On April 4, Polish tennis player Iga Schwentek will become the world’s first new racket. The previous leader of the tour – Australian Ashley Barty – suddenly announced the end of her career at the age of 25 and will now be excluded from the ranking of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). The 20-year-old Schwentek has been in the elite of tennis for more than two years – so far her main tournament is “Roland Garros” -2020, where she powerfully passed the net, not giving rivals a set and winning the title.
After that, there was a fear that Iga would add to the list of one-day champions (Bianca Andréescu, Elena Ostapenko, Sofia Kenin, Emma Raducanu), who won the Grand Slam tournament, but did not show high results. However, Schwentek was much more stable than others. In 2021, the polka won the WTA 1000 and 500 tournaments in Rome and Adelaide, respectively, and in 2022 has already won two prestigious “thousands” in Indian Wells and Doha. It is noteworthy that Schwentek is the only tennis player in the current women’s tour, who reached the second week of the last six “Grand Slam” in a row.
“Sheets. Sports “tells the main facts from the biography of the world’s first new racket.
A lover of classical rock
Iga was born into the family of a professional rower – Tomasz Schwentek competed at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. He wanted his daughters – Iggy’s older sister Agatha – to follow his example and become athletes. And the rower insisted that the girls were not engaged in team sports, but individual, where it is easier to control the chances of success. At first, Agatha was sent to swim, but there were no results, so the girl began to play tennis. Soon the younger Schwentek was sent to the court.
Agatha competed in several junior tournaments under the auspices of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), but she began to suffer from injuries and had to give up her career in sports – the girl went to school and now works as a dentist. But Iga’s results went well – she started training at the Legia Multisport Center in Warsaw, won four titles at ITF tournaments for children under 13, became the fifth racket in the world among juniors and regularly reached the quarterfinals and semifinals of the Junior Grand Slam. .
In 2017, Iga had to show character for the first time – she injured her ankle and missed seven months. Schwentek later admitted that at the time she was considering finishing her performance and focusing, like her sister, on her studies, but her father and coach dissuaded her from leaving the sport. After recovering, Schwentek returned to the junior “Roland Garros” -2018 and immediately reached the semifinals, and in the doubles and even took the title with the American Katie McNally. That same year, she won the junior Wimbledon – now singles – and advanced to the adult round.
According to Schwentek, the most important element for her mood before matches is music. In an interview in 2019, she was asked to name her favorite musician, she found it difficult to answer, explaining that she loves rock and choosing one of the many bands is difficult for her. Iga noted that she has a traditional playlist, which includes Pearl Jam, Guns N ‘Roses, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Pink Floyd, Santana, Coldplay, AC / DC and other legendary bands.
“My musical preferences are really strange, because neither my parents nor my sister listen to such music,” said the athlete. – I heard her when I went to tournaments with different coaches from the Polish Tennis Union. Each of them included something new for me, so I have such a taste. ” It is known that the tennis player’s favorite song is “Welcome To The Jungle” by Guns N ‘Roses.
One day, while performing at the youth Wimbledon, Schwentek had to break the ritual – she forgot the player at the hotel: “It was my hardest match. I no longer remember who he was against. But things went wrong from the beginning. Fortunately, I won that meeting. “
The youngest winner of “RG” for almost 30 years
One of the first tournaments in the adult round for Iga was the Australian Open 2019, where she managed to beat the 82nd racket of the world from Romania Anna Bogdan in three sets and reach the second round. The breakthrough came at the Lugano Open in April of the same year: she reached the final of the competition with a prize fund of $ 250,000, defeating the famous Czech Kristina Plishkova in the semifinals, and debuted in the top 100 after the competition. By the fall, Schwentek was in the top 50, but due to a leg injury was forced to miss the US Open and the rest of the season.
The first half of 2020 was a crisis for the entire tennis industry – due to the pandemic, tournaments were canceled and postponed, players stopped earning, the organizers of the remaining competitions had to reduce the number of spectators in the stands. Among other things, Roland Garros was moved from May to September. Sventek came to the tournament as the 54th racket in the world, in the course of the competition she defeated several famous athletes – in particular, Simona Halep, who by that time had a series of 17 victories in a row. In the final, Schwentek left no chance to the American with Russian roots Sofia Kenin (6: 4, 6: 1) and won her first adult “Helmet”.
At the age of 19, Iga is the youngest singles champion since Rafael Nadal in 2005 and the youngest women’s singles winner since Monica Seles in 1992.
Schwentek after winning Roland Garros in 2020
In the champion’s speech, the outwardly calm and confident Iga could not contain her emotions, first of all remembering Rafael Nadal – it turned out to be her favorite tennis player: “It’s kind of crazy, because every year I watched Rafa Nadal raise a cup over his head. Now I stand in this place myself. I am very proud of myself. I did a great job these two weeks and didn’t expect to win the title. This is amazing. Probably, this is a fateful experience for me. “
Many journalists and experts pointed out that in her speech on the court and at the press conference, Schwentek talked a lot about psychology, here are just a few quotes: “Of course, the finale is a huge stress. I was worried that because of the pressure we would not be able to show our best tennis “; “I was psychologically stable and wanted to play as aggressively as in previous rounds. There was a lot of stress today, so it wasn’t easy. ” According to the tennis player, one of the main reasons for her success is the presence in the team of sports psychologist Daria Abramovich, who travels with her to all tournaments.
Coach Petr Serzhputovsky, who worked with Iga until 2021, noted that the psychologist helped Schwentek get rid of the main problem – fear of matches with top rivals. “When Daria started working with Iga, her attitude to games changed dramatically. Earlier, when she went to matches with serious rivals, she was very nervous. Now she constantly answers: “I will manage, everything will be fine. The results of Igi and Daria’s work are also visible during the games. She became calmer and more reasonable. Now she makes fewer stupid mistakes, “said the expert.
According to Schwentek, working with a psychologist changed her approach to life. She stopped thinking only about tennis and began to allow herself to relax – to spend more time in nature, eat well, spend time reading and other hobbies.
The best tennis player of the 2022 season
At the Australian Open-2021 Schwentek was seeded 15th, in Australia she reached the fourth round, where she lost to Simone Halep in three sets. The polka soon won the prestigious tournament in Adelaide, defeating future Tokyo Olympic champion Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in the final. In her favorite, ground, part of the season, she won the competition in Rome, in the decisive match Iga in 46 minutes dealt with the former world number one Karolina Plishkova. At the same time, it was not possible to defend the title at Roland Garros – in the quarterfinals, Schwentek lost to Greek Maria Saccari.
In the grass and hard part of the 2021 season, Schwentek played many tournaments, but could not achieve high results, however, for the first time in her career she qualified for the WTA Finals. “I learned so much this season. I want my stay on the tour to be less energy-intensive, – said Iga after leaving the final. – Then I will be more productive and I will have the strength to play at the highest level for several years. I will try to change my attitude a little. As a player, I would like to get used to, not jump from super-confidence to “I’m new, I don’t know what to do.” Just trust yourself more. I would like to be more productive and relaxed, just remember that tennis is not everything. “
Before the start of this season, Schwentek parted ways with coach Serzhputovsky, with whom she has worked for the past five years. Now she is collaborating with Tomasz Wiktorowski – this specialist in the past trained another Polish tennis player, Agnieszka Radwanska. The first results of the change of coach are already visible – Schwentek began to play more aggressively, began to move faster on the court.
Iga Schwentek at the tournament in Indian Wells
Progress after the change of coach is confirmed by statistics: Igi is the best in the men’s and women’s rounds this season – 26 matches and only three defeats. It is noteworthy that the polka won all the victories on the hard – by the end of March she had already repeated her personal record for the number of matches won this season on this surface. In addition, after the end of Barty’s career, she became not only the world’s first racket, but also the leader of the season in points. And perhaps most importantly – by winning in Indian Wells on March 20, Schwentek confirmed her impressive ability to perform in the grand finals. By the age of 20, she had won five WTA titles, losing only a total of 16 games. Iga will play his next match on March 31, when he will reach the quarterfinals of the tournament in Miami against the Czech Petra Kvitova.
“I’m playing at a good level and I’m concentrating on that,” Schwentek shared her feelings after becoming the leader of the tour. – I know that the rating can be pressing, but on the other hand, when I rose in the rankings and entered the top 10 and top 5, I felt the same and now I do not want to repeat. So I’m just concentrating on my game. I don’t know what will happen after the tournament. The adrenaline will drop and I will have more time to think about it a little more, but so far I feel great. Not that it worries me – rather motivates. And that’s great. “