Iga Swiatek now reaping benefits of putting studies ahead of pursuing tennis career after French Open glory
Iga Swiatek celebrates with the French Open trophy the day after beating Sofia Kenin - Getty Images
If there is one lesson from Iga Swiatek's phenomenal French Open, which culminated in a 6: 4: 6: 1 win over Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin on Saturday, it is that a rounder person often turns out to be a better tennis player turns out good.
All over the world - and especially in the UK - ambitious parents assume that their talented little Sagittarius would benefit from a full absorption in the game. However, Swiatek chose to prioritize her schooling and didn't focus fully on tennis until she graduated from high school this summer.
"When she started building her ranking at the age of 16, I asked her if she would like to tour full-time," said Nick Brown, the British mentor who led Swiatek to the Junior Wimbledon title two years ago. "She said," No, I'm staying at school. "It was non-negotiable. And I thought," Good for her. "
"She said," If the breakthrough takes a little longer, I think I can do it, "Brown added." She was in no hurry. It's a good lesson for younger players. "
The Swiatek theory - if we may call it that - also applies to another 19-year-old who got noticed in the past fourteen days. In the quarter-finals on Wednesday, Jannik Sinner was Rafael Nadals 98th victim at Roland Garros, but not before his massive basic blows on the other side of the net had caused real concern.
Swiatek graduated from high school earlier this year - Shutterstock
The parallel here is that until he was 12, tennis was just a small hobby for Sinner. After establishing himself as a real view of the slopes, he suddenly put down his skis and seriously picked up a club. Compare this trajectory with the British system. By the time our children turn 12, the Lawn Tennis Association has been separating "priority" juniors from others for the past four years.
To get back to Swiatek, what is alarming to their rivals is what is happening now. How much better can she get now that she's no longer carting around in her textbooks on "advanced math and English"? Her trainer Piotr Sierzputowski explained: "I had to train at 7am because she had to go to school and I asked: 'Why are you tired? Did you sleep well?' She said, "No, I studied at night."
The marginal gains theory that the LTA's last performance director, Simon Timson, loved so much has not yet swayed Swiatek's burgeoning career. Take your bat, for example. This hasn't changed since 2015 when she used a Prince model - the TXT 100 - that is rarely seen on the tour.
"I think we'll be testing some more [rackets] this preseason," admitted Swiatek after beating Nadia Podoroska in the semi-final. "I'm going to have to deal with some things that I haven't dealt with before."
She also faces renewed fame in her native Poland, which has never produced a great champion of either sex before. But it is believed that Swiatek can handle it. As Brown says, "She's an old head on young shoulders - a bit like Martina Hingis of the same age."
Swiatek's most important victory of the fourteen days was probably her demolition of the top seed and tournament favorite Simona Halep in the fourth round. At the post-game videoconference, one question centered on her love of music - not just the rough track Guns N 'Roses (Welcome to the Jungle), which set her in the mood for any competition, but also her wider interest in the 1970s Years of rock and even jazz.
"I just wanted to know more about something that wasn't tennis," replied Swiatek. It could be the motto for her entire career.
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