Iga Swiatek on time she went on 'wrong path', playing Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina

Swiatek addresses her current position and managing high expectations and potential distractions.

by Dzevad Mesic
Iga Swiatek on time she went on 'wrong path', playing Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina
© Getty Images Sport - Cameron Spencer

Iga Swiatek suggests she uses different tactics game-wise when playing Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina but highlights that the mindset and focus is absolutely the same when she is facing those two superstars. 

Last year, Swiatek, Sabalenka and Rybakina delivered some of the best matches of the season in matches between them.

Against 25-year-old Sabalenka, 22-year-old Swiatek has a 6-3 head-to-head. Last year, Swiatek defeated Sabalenka in the finals at the WTA Finals and Stuttgart but lost to the Belarusian in the Madrid final. After the 2023 season ended, the Swiatek and Sabalenka Madrid final was voted the WTA Final of the Year. 

On the other side, Swiatek has two wins and three losses against Rybakina. After losing to Rybakina three times last year, Swiatek got her revenge on Saturday when she beat the Kazakh in the Doha final. 

This week at a WTA 1000 event in Dubai, Swiatek, Sabalenka and Rybakina are competing in the same tournament for the first time since the Australian Open. In her pre-tournament press conference, Swiatek was asked what’s the difference in playing Sabalenka and Rybakina. 

“Well, their game. They're playing differently. That's the main difference you focus on when you go on a match because you have your tactics and everything and you have to be ready,” Swiatek said. 

“That's all I would say because they are both really intense. You really have to be on or toes and ready, let them play their game because they're going to use it.

“They're really good, both of them. As you can see, we all have pretty tight matches against each other. I feel like the level is pretty high and it's good.

“I wouldn't say there's much difference in terms of the mindset and the focus when I play against each of them.”

Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka
Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka© Getty Images Sport - Elsa

Swiatek on being constantly on the move 

After winning the opening WTA 1000 tournament of the year in Doha last week, Swiatek didn’t really have much time to celebrate or relax after her win. Instead, Swiatek went directly to Dubai, where she is the top-seeded player and set to resume action. 

While Swiatek may be a bit tired following her Doha run, she now has a new challenge ahead of her as the Pole enters Dubai as the top favorite for the title. In Dubai, Swiatek was asked how she managed all the expectations and pressure while trying to maintain a good balance between private life and career.

“Well, in my whole life? There's not much peaceful time, I would say, because there's always something going on. The tour is really intense,” Swiatek said.

“I just try to catch every moment where I have some peace, staying in one place for a longer time, yeah, to find a balance. But overall I think pretty well.”

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Brett Hemmings

Swiatek on handling potential distractions 

Swiatek, a four-time Grand Slam champion, won her first Slam at the 2020 French Open. Since then, Swiatek has been one of the best in the game and she has had most success on the Tour over the last two years. This week, Swiatek entered her 91st week at the world No. 1 spot. 

Expectedly, Swiatek’s major success drew major attention and focus on her as people are constantly speaking about her, especially on social media. When if the world No. 1 spot and people constantly speaking about her on social media could be distracting in some ways, Swiatek revealed that she went “on a wrong path” for two months following her 2020 French Open win. 

But now, the 22-year-old Pole handles social media and everything much better.  

“I would say I'm doing good job, like, separating that. I don't use really social media during the tournaments. I just post my stuff and that's all,” Swiatek explained.

“For sure, when I go on social media when I'm not playing tournaments, yeah, it can distract a person. I would say also when you start making successes, having successes, it's easy to focus on the business part of the sport and forget what you are actually here to do, the work that you should put.

“I remember after I won my first Roland Garros, like two months I really was going the wrong path. The practices weren't a priority in my schedule, in my head, you know? I remember my team had to kind of push me right back on the right path.

“I think, yeah, social media and Internet can distract you, and this business side of sport, if you don't balance it well.”

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Meanwhile, Swiatek could potentially meet Sabalenka or Rybakina only in the Dubai final since the Belarusian and the Kazakh are placed in the bottom half of the draw. After a first-round bye, Swiatek starts against Sloane Stephens on Tuesday. 

If Swiatek wins Dubai this week, it will be her first title at the tournament. 

Iga Swiatek Aryna Sabalenka Elena Rybakina