Ex-Slam semifinalist issues take on 'risky' thing Iga Swiatek did in her game

When the 2024 season started, Swiatek returned with a different serve.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Ex-Slam semifinalist issues take on 'risky' thing Iga Swiatek did in her game
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Andrea Petkovic suggests Iga Swiatek is evidently feeling challenged by Aryna Sabalenka and some other top players and that is the reason why the Pole is trying something different with her serve and trying to find ways to further improve her game. 

Swiatek, who will be turning 23 in May, enjoyed a very dominant season in 2022 as she finished that season as a three-time Grand Slam champion and also had a run of 37 consecutive wins that year. 

But when the 2023 season started, Swiatek lost in the Australian Open round-of-16 while Sabalenka became a Grand Slam champion. While Swiatek was able to win one Grand Slam last year and regain the world No. 1 spot after losing it to Sabalenka at the US Open, she wasn't as nearly dominant as she was in 2022. 

Going into the 2024 season, Swiatek decided to make some changes and that led to the Pole trying something different with her service. At the Australian Open, the change didn't really pay off as Swiatek shockingly lost to Linda Noskova in the third round. When Swiatek returned to action during the Middle East swing, she won a WTA 1000 title in Doha before making the Dubai semifinal the following week - where she surprisingly lost to Anna Kalinskaya. 

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Cameron Spencer
 

Reflecting on that, 2014 French Open semifinalist Petkovic sees a bit of the Jannik Sinner situation there. When Sinner started to struggle to make a big Grand Slam breakthrough, he started experimenting with his serve. After some time, Sinner's serve fully clicked and for the past couple of months the 22-year-old Italian has been a different player and he also recently became a Grand Slam champion at the Australian Open. 

Petkovic hopes Swiatek's serve clicks to the fullest like Sinner's

Addressing a serve or any other shot change, Petkovic highlighted that going from your natural motion is never an easy thing. But Petkovic also underlined that it is a risk that can bring a lot of good if done successfully. 

“When I see somebody tinkering with whichever shot it is in their arsenal, it makes me really nervous because I know the feeling you have when you all of a sudden don’t feel a shot and you don’t know where it’s going to go at times,” she said on Tennis Channel's "inside-In" podcast. 

“For, Iga being No. 1 in the world for a while now but exchanging that place with Aryna Sabalenka, it’s really great to see and fascinating to watch because she knows she feels the other players breathing down her neck, especially Aryna Sabalenka, so she knows she has to keep evolving and developing her game.

“The one thing that she doesn’t have compared to Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina is that big serve that can get her a lot of free points.

“An example on the ATP Tour, Jannik Sinner did the same thing. It cost him the French Open – he lost in the first or second round in five sets – and everyone was like ‘oh what is happening to Jannik’ but they were tinkering with his serve.

“They [Sinner’s team] were trying the thing where he doesn’t move his right leg up. Then they went back to that and all of a sudden it clicked together and now he seems to be unbeatable.

“For the past few months, he has been the player on the ATP Tour to beat. Hopefully, the same thing will happen for Iga too.

“But it is risky and it is always the question ‘do you go ahead, do you try and do it?’ or do you stick with what you have, especially when you have already won major tournaments.”

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Kelly Defina
 

Swiatek on changing her serve

When the 2024 season started and Swiatek kicked off her year at the United Cup, one of the first things that stood out in the Pole's game was her changed service motion. When asked about it, Swiatek confirmed she indeed made certain changes to her serve and revealed that she was actually planning n doing so since the 2022 US Open. 

"We've been planning to do that for a long time now. It's hard to find the proper time, especially when we kind of wanted to do it last year, but I won suddenly the US Open," Swiatek said at the start of the 2024 season. 

"We were like, Why would we do it after winning a Grand Slam? The timing was pretty tricky. We also tried a little bit to change something after Wimbledon last year."

Also earlier this year, Swiatek insisted that she wasn't actually making a huge change to her serve but was just changing her movement.

"This time I knew I was kind of ready to just stick with it and not come back to my older movement, my previous movement. I mean, it's not a big change. Like, I'm only changing my swing here. Up there everything is the same," Swiatek said.

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Kelly Defina
 

So far this season, Swiatek is 14-2. Next week, Swiatek will return to action at a WTA 1000 tournament in Indian Wells, where she will be hoping to win her second title in 2024 but also her second title in the desert.

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