Dominik Senkowski: The very promotion to the final or the style of successive victories in Paris – what is more surprising for you in the case of Iga Świątek?
Karol Stopa: I think promotion to the final. We talked about Iga many times among the commentators. She does the makings of such a thing gameswhich has now revealed itself with enormous force, reminiscent of a volcanic eruption, has already shown before. However, it is something else to play in this way at training or tournaments of the ITF rank, and something else on the main Roland Garros court, when the stake is a sum exceeding one million zlotys.
The biggest surprise for me is how witek jumped over that mental barrier. I still have in my eyes the duel of the 2nd round of this year’s US Open with Sachia Vickery. Won, but in a very weak style. In such a short time, to go from a game like Vickery to what he shows in Paris is an extraordinary thing.
How do you rate her playing style at Roland Garros?
– Is fantastic. This is what bought a lot of fans and experts. It’s a yes, positive tennis. Tennis where the point is to score a point, to attack, to emphasize an advantage. For years, we have admired Agnieszka Radwańska’s patience on the court. I don’t want to say that it was a bad tactic because it gave her a lot of success, but it was completely different tennis than Świątek. Basing on the opponent’s weakness, good defense, wisdom on the court, but also a different way of thinking about the game. Less offensive. This was due to the specific physical conditions of Radwańska. There is a fountain of vitality, dynamics, and the power of strokes in the game. The game is to finish an action, not to survive a trade. Her final rival is the opposite, she prefers to hold down and wait for her opponent’s mistake.
What are the chances of Iga Świątek in the Saturday Roland Garros final with Sofia Kenin?
– I’m afraid of this final. The American can play smart, she is dangerous. Before the tournament, no one included her among the favorites. He plays better and better every match. A year ago in Paris, she defeated Serena Williams, then she fought against the later winner Ash Barty. On the other hand, if there is no blockage in Iga’s head, it will be phenomenal. It will be the same match as the previous Roland Garros game.
You have been commenting on tennis matches for years. Which young competitor in recent years has reached the Grand Slam final in the same style as Iga Świątek?
– This is how Mary Pierce played in 1994 in Paris. She was also 19 years old, she also reached the final. I was at that tournament and I remember she just smashed her opponents. Then the young Williams sisters began to play in a similar style. Paradoxically, Pierce did not win then Roland Garros. She had a similar rival as Iga now, more anticipating what her opponent would propose – the Spanish Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. There were additional circumstances that did not help the French. It was raining on Saturday, the final was moved to Sunday. Pierce was bombarded by the press, eventually playing at home. Iga’s carers are trying to protect her from this.
What is the greatest strength of Iga Świątek’s game?
– She has some techniques from Rafael Nadal. It is a combination of dynamism and strength. The Spaniard is left-handed, the Pole is right-handed, but she pulls the head of the racket in a similar way. The technique of her strokes is not that beautiful. These are not straight out of the learning book, but they are extremely effective.
What else needs to be liked in the game Christmasis the fact that she is a very brave tennis player. He is not afraid to go to the net, he plays very difficult hits, such as volley against the running one, stop volleys. WITH Halep Several balls came out that fans and experts were clutching their heads. Today, women don’t play tennis like that. Iga plays a bit like a man. Hence the mad delight of all commentators over it. Not only is she young, fast and strong, but she also sends balls that you don’t see in women’s tennis.
I remember when Naomi Osaka tried to play a more difficult ball – e.g. volley stop or between the legs. It was very inept. Today the training of tennis players goes terribly in one direction. They are not prepared to play more complicated balls. They just hit hard, that’s it. And Świątek is different. I asked her about this game between the legs at the Australian Open in the 4th round game against Anett Kontaveit. She said that she practices such punches. I am shocked because the new generation of tennis players don’t really do it.
Iga’s tennis is developing a lot. In Paris, it impresses with its service, including the latter. It was different in the third round of the US Open, when Wiktoria Azarenka took advantage of her weaker pass.
– Iga in Paris does not play much worse than then with Azarenka. I will say more, this match against the Belarusian woman was the first sign that it was going for the best. Before that, she had played a nightmare meeting with Vickery. With Azarenka you could see that she unlocked. I just commented on that duel with Tomek Wiktorowski. The Polish woman played very well. Azarenka was in a phenomenal form, probably not many players could stop her then.
Do you see any reserves in the game Świątek?
– I can see that, for example, Radwańska had a huge technical advantage over her. She could skillfully arrange a strike, even a breakneck one. It did not generate any extra strength in the moves, but it also did not let you surprise you. Hardly anyone could do that in women’s tennis. Many of her rivals thought that if they hit them with all their strength, Radwańska would get scared and would not make it in time. It was not so. She was climbing on her feet, she had an incredible feeling in her hand. 85 percent of her strokes were from her rival force. On the other hand, Światek plays differently. Above all, he generates his own strength, and when he has to play with the strength of his opponent, it is a bit worse. You can probably work on that.
After Roland Garros, only two more women’s tournaments will be held this season in Ostrava and Linz. Is it good for a Polish woman, because she will be able to rest physically and mentally, or bad, because the great shape came at the end of the year?
– Experts on the human body say that after the Grand Slam tournament you should rest for at least a month. On the example of Dominic Thiem, it can be seen that the title in the US Open got him in his legs. In Paris, he argued in one of the interviews that he had hit the wall, and this is a guy who can train 12 hours a day. It says a lot how you have to be careful with effort. I think it is better for Iga after Paris to rest a bit. When she was still a junior, she was a bit economical. And that’s good, because you can’t overdo the intensity of the performances.