Iga Swiatek reveals she "carried a burden" of keeping the world No 1 ranking throughout the year and admitted to feeling kind of "free" after Aryna Sabalenka finally managed to overtake her at the top spot. Earlier in the year, Sabalenka missed out on a couple of really good chances to replace Swiatek at the top spot.
But after Swiatek lost in the US Open round-of-16 and failed to defend her points, Sabalenka learned she was guaranteed to replace the Pole at the top spot after the US Open. On September 11th, Swiatek lost the world No 1 ranking after spending 75 consecutive weeks there.
"Halfway through the year, I was carrying the burden of - I don't like this term and I try to avoid it - maintaining the ranking. Aryna Sabalenka had many chances to jump over me, but she finally did. Then I felt free. It was a bit easier for me to concentrate solely on my game again," Swiatek told SportoweFakty.
Swiatek on resetting after everything that happened
Following a very disappointing US Open, Swiatek's confidence was left shaken. When Swiatek returned to action in Tokyo, she still wasn't looking her best and surprisingly lost to Veronika Kudermetova in the quarterfinal.
But then, Swiatek won back-to-back titles in Beijing and the WTA Finals and also returned to the world No 1 ranking. "In Warsaw, I had a great training block. I went back to the basics and started playing the way I like best.
After two weeks of break, I thought: 'OK, I trained, I did a great job, so now I have to show everyone that I have reset. That it should be easier.' I went out on the court in Tokyo in challenging conditions and - well - fear appeared.
I felt like everyone was watching me. It overwhelmed me. I gathered the whole team. I said I needed 100% support, including emotional support. I asked them not to judge me because I probably wouldn't play very well and maybe I would have to bite the court in every match instead of playing freely. I got this support, thanks to which I felt more confident from match to match," Swiatek said.