Iga Swiatek opens up on why she was 'hit hard' by Ashleigh Barty's shock retirement

Swiatek replaced Barty at the top spot after the Australian retired in 2022 March.

by Dzevad Mesic
Iga Swiatek opens up on why she was 'hit hard' by Ashleigh Barty's shock retirement
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Iga Swiatek admits Ashleigh Barty's retirement "hit me hard" because she didn't expect something like that to happen and she definitely didn't expect to reach the world No 1 ranking in such a way. In 2022 March, Swiatek won her first Indian Wells title and achieved a career-high ranking of No 2 in the world - but the Pole was still well behind top-ranked Barty on the list.

Then, Barty shockingly announced that she was retiring from tennis at the age of 25. In her announcement, Barty confirmed she would request the WTA to remove her name from the rankings in the following rankings update. In Miami, Swiatek went on to win it all and ensure she would be the one replacing Barty at the top spot.

For Swiatek, everything happened pretty quickly and unexpectedly.

Swiatek on Barty's retirement hitting her hard

"I didn't fully understand what had happened. Ash was the undisputed leader, she played the best tennis - even though I knew where she would hit, it was still difficult to cope with her shot.

At first, her departure was an abstraction to me. I felt it as a great loss for the sport. I have great respect for her. Besides, I had an idea what the end of her career would mean for me. I was number two for just a few days, and suddenly there was an opportunity to move to the top of the rankings.

It hit me hard because I never thought such a scenario would be possible. Today we live from day to day, we do not think about the future every moment. The thought comes to mind: 'God, I could soon be the best in the world in my discipline,'" Swiatek told SportoweFakty.

Since Barty's retirement, Swiatek has achieved the most and she is now the face of women's tennis. Currently, 22-year-old Swiatek is a four-time Grand Slam champion and the top-ranked player in the game.

Iga Swiatek Ashleigh Barty