Swiatek Sweeps the Sunshine Double — Quotes from Miami Open Finalists — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, April 5, 2022

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Speaking of four: for only the fourth time in history, the Sunshine Double was achieved. It’s incredibly hard to win the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open back-to-back. Two two-week tournaments featuring the world’s best, then factor in two vastly different climates on the two opposite ends of the United States? I could never.

Fortunately, Iga Swiatek is a badass and already showing the world why she deserves #1 next to her name. The Pole, who was projected to rise to World No. 1 following Ashleigh Barty’s retirement last week, continued her dominance on the WTA Tour. In just her second-ever Miami Open, Swiatek captured the Miami Open with a dominating 6-4, 6-0 win over Naomi Osaka.

Swiatek joins Stefanie Graf, Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka as the only players to complete the Sunshine Double and at 20, she’s the youngest to do it. Graf and Martina Hingis hold the record for the fewest amount of games lost en route to a Miami Open crown at 21, but Swiatek joined the record books with only 26 games lost in her six matches. WTA Insider grabbed some stunning Swiatek stats, which makes my 30-year-old self look forever unaccomplished.

Like everyone in the media has mentioned in the past, we were expecting a Barty-Swiatek rivalry that was hopefully going to last many years. However, it was near-fitting that the first final after Barty’s retirement was Swiatek vs. Osaka. The two friends are the tour’s biggest introverts, but when together — or at least talking about the other, that all goes away. Miami was a fantastic tournament for Osaka, who was making her first final since the 2021 Australian Open final. Though their first two matches have been pretty one-sided — with each earning a win — you can feel that this might be the rivalry women’s tennis is missing. I always talk about how amazing how open the WTA field is, but a matchup where each player motivates the other? Grab the popcorn, I’ll bring the butter.

It’s quite the meteoric rise for Swiatek, who turned pro in 2016 and stopped playing ITF junior tournaments in 2018.

Swiatek has now won 17 consecutive matches on the WTA Tour, which is impressive in itself, but it’s the quality of opponents she’s faced that really stands out:

Entering the Miami final, the average rank of the players she was beating was 26. After the final, it was 29. TWENTY-NINE! Like, how is she real?!

We’re officially in the Swiatek era of the WTA and the claycourt season will be interesting to see if she can continue this dominance. She broke out in 2020 by dismantling player after player to win Roland Garros and she continued fine play in 2021 by double bageling Karolina Pliskova to win Rome before reaching the quarterfinals in Paris. Swiatek grew up on clay, so it’s almost scary that she’s winning this routinely on an “unfavored” surface.

In a post-Barty WTA world, Swiatek is swimmingly taking things over with ease. Will she lose a match on clay? Probably, but she’s more than the favorite to continue her path of destruction and is beyond my favorite to capture a second Roland Garros crown.

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This week in women’s tennis

The WTA announced Modern Health as the official mental health partner of the tour.

The first WTA 125 title of the year went to Mayar Sherif, who captured the AnyTech365 Andalucía Open in Marbella, Spain, with a tough win over alternate Tamara Korpatsch. The doubles title went to Irina Bara and Ekaterine Gorgodze, who captured their fourth WTA 125 title and fifth overall at the WTA level with the win.

Your required WTA Insider reading:

Elina Svitolina announced she will be taking an extended break from the tour in the midst of Ukraine’s ongoing battle with Russia. The 2020 Olympic bronze medalist was due to face the United States next week in Billie Jean King Cup action:

Sandra Harwitt profiled Madison Keys and her Kindness Wins foundation, where the American opened up about the lessons her non-profit has taught her.

With major renovations finished in time for the 50th anniversary, the Credit One Charleston Open has quite the draw, even though Iga Swiatek withdrew following her Miami win.

In college tennis news, the University of North Carolina lead the Division I team rankings, while in DII, Barry University, Deniz Khazan and Christine Canete/Mae Canete headline the latest team, singles and doubles rankings, respectively. Also, massive congratulations to Vanderbilt alum Astra Sharma, who received her master’s degree through the WTA’s partnership with the University of Florida:

Naomi Osaka soared in this week’s rankings update, that of course saw Iga Swiatek reach No. 1 and Danielle Collins re-enter the Top 10.

Last week’s Universal Tennis Pro Tennis Tour results:

  • $25,000+H Dubai
    • 1st place playoff: Marie Benoit def. Dalila Jakupovic, 6-0,5-7,6-2
    • 2nd place playoff: Sarah-Rebecca Sekulic def. Anastasia Detiuc, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4
    • 3rd place playoff: Sabina Sharipova def. Milana Zhabrailova, 1-6, 7-5, 6-4
    • 4th place playoff: Laura Svatikova def. Mariia Bergen, 6-4, 6-0
    • 5th place playoff: Mia Chudejova def. Lisa Mays, 7-5, 6-0
  • $25,000 Dobrich, Bulgaria:
    • 1st place playoff: Julia Terziyska def. Darja Semenistaja, 7-5, 6-2
    • 2nd place playoff: Oana Simion def. Zinovia Vaneva, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2
    • 3rd place playoff: Gabriela Duca def. Cemre Anil, 7-5, 6-1
    • 4th place playoff: Borislava Botusharova def. Stefana Lazar, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0
    • 5th place playoff: Darya Velikova def. Stela Peeva, 6-2, 6-0
  • $25,000 Atlanta, Georgia:
    • 1st place playoff: Victoria Rodriguez def. Ana Sofia Sanchez, 6-2, 6-2
    • 2nd place playoff: María José Portillo def. Luciana Perry, 6-0, 7-6(5)
    • 3rd place playoff: Tiphanie Fiquet def. Iryna Lysykh, 6-4,6-3
    • 4th place playoff: Alejandra Ferrer Rodriguez def. Alice Otis, 6-4, 6-2
    • 5th place playoff: Jo-Yee Chan def. Bayley Sheinin, 6-3, 6-3

I told you in January to watch out for Daria Saville, so I’m glad at least one prediction is going right in 2022:

With the first quarter of the ITF World Tour complete, the next part of the calendar was released. The champions from last week were:

  • $60,000 Croissy-Beaubourg, France:
    • Linda Noskova def. (Q) Leolia Jeanjean, 6-3, 6-4
    • Isabelle Haverlag/Justina Mikulskyte def. Sofya Lansere/Oksana Selekhmeteva, 6-4, 6-2
  • $60,000 Canberra, Australia:
    • (2) Sujeong Jang def. (8) Yuki Naito, 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-4
    • (1) Ankita Raina/Arina Rodionova def. Fernanda Contreras Gomez/Alana Parnaby, 4-6, 6-2, [11-9]
  • $60,000 Pretoria, South Africa:
    • Lina Glushko leads Anastasia Tikjonova, 7-5, 4-3 with weather suspending play to today
    • (3) Eudice Chong/Hong Yi Cody Wong def. (1) Timea Babos/Valeria Savinykh, 7-5, 5-7, [13-11]
  • $15,000 Monastir, Tunisia:
    • (4) Sakura Hosogi def. (2) Joanna Garland, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3
    • (3) Yasmine Mansouri/Nina Radovanovic def. Meiling Wang/Xinxin Yao, 7-5, 6-3
  • $15,000 Sharm El Shiekh, Egypt:
    • (8) Pei-Chi Lee def. (1) Ya-Hsuan Lee, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3
    • (4) Linda Klimovicova/DOminika Salkova def. Mei Hasegawa/Saki Imamura, 6-1, 6-4
  • $15,000 Antalya, Turkey:
    • (8) Sapfo Sakellaridi def. Deborah Chiesa, 6-4, 6-3
    • (2) Vlada Koval/Daria Lodikova def. (4) Julia Avdeeva/Sapfo Sakellaridi, 6-4, 3-6, [10-4]

Stephanie Livaudais discussed fashion for tennis.com, covering Fenix Sportier’s entry into the tennis bag fashion space, as well as Leylah Fernandez’s deal with Lululemon along with a her recent footwear with Roger Federer’s creation with On.

Tweet of the Week

A gram this time, but congratulations to IX alum Nicole Gibbs, who welcomed her first child with husband Jack Brody. Look at those cheeks!

Five at The IX: Iga Swiatek & Naomi Osaka From Miami

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on achieving the Sunshine Double. Just the fourth woman to do this. What are your thoughts on that?

IGA SWIATEK: Well, I don’t know honestly. I feel pretty privileged that I can be amongst those players, because, you know, I wouldn’t even dream of it few years ago. I knew it’s going to be tough playing these two tournaments in a row.

Yeah, I mean, I realize at the end it’s just another match and I took it step by step. That’s how it ended.

Q. Congratulations for the whole week. Can you just kind of put the whole tournament in perspective? What did you learn about yourself? What do you take from this going forward?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I guess what I learned about myself is like I guess I’m a good learner. Like I feel like I learned a lot every match and I tried to apply it.

But I also think Iga was quite different from all the players that I’ve played previously, so it was a bit hard to adjust to what she was doing. But I think hopefully, if I play her next time, it will be a much better match.

Yeah, I have learned that like, I don’t know, I’m not as disappointed as I normally would be, like I think normally I would be crying in the locker room or something, but now I’m kind of like chill. I feel like I know what I want to do better, and I just want to go back and start training again to like hopefully win a tournament next time.

Q. Congratulations. Two questions really. First one is, I mean, Naomi was really far into the court on your second serve. Do you see that when you are tossing the ball? What goes through your mind? That’s my first question. The second question is when you look in the mirror in the morning, do you see the No. 1 player in the world? If not, how long do you think it will be before you get comfortable with that?

IGA SWIATEK: Well, when I wake up and look in the mirror, I see a mess basically (smiling).

No, I mean, I’m still the same person, the same Iga. I want to stay that way. I mean, I had my biggest idols basically stayed the same way and they are the same people. I don’t want the success to change me like in a negative way.

Obviously it’s going to give me a lot of confidence and like satisfaction. But in terms of me as a person, I’m still going to be the same, you know.

But the first question, yeah, for sure, I saw her stepping in. But, you know, I had many situations in my life where I kept, you know, when I backed up in those moments and I didn’t want to do that this time, because I knew that I have to, you know, go forward even though, and I know that my second serve is good and it can really kick well, especially on a slow surface like that.

So I just used the skills that I have. Well, yeah, I didn’t want to think about even making a double fault or something, because I wanted also to give my opponent opportunity to play, to win, it’s okay, you know, to finish from second serve, or to miss. Yeah, I mean, I just went with it.

Q. You were completely open and honest in terms of you not being in a final for a while. My question to you is that feeling of being back and obviously, as you mentioned, facing Iga and the level of her, what do both of them feel like in terms of being back and facing an opponent like her?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I would say it felt really good to be back. For me, I would say like Miami is a tournament that I have always wanted to win, so of course it’s a bit sad for me right now.

But I think I can take a lot of positives in this week, and I also know that like the amount of rounds that you have to play as not a seed in this tournament is the same as a Grand Slam, and that’s kind of the thinking that took me from Indian Wells to US Open like in 2018.

So I think it’s all about keeping a certain perspective. Playing Iga today, just knowing the kind of roll that she’s on, I guess I have to think about it more, like what specifically did I learn today, but I don’t know.

It’s kind of cool to be blown away by a person, like an opponent, but at the same time, I feel like I’m strong enough that that shouldn’t happen. So I’m a bit like irritated a little bit, but I feel like, you know, this is like the learning process, and something good will happen eventually if I keep sticking with what I’m doing.

Q. Talking about Poland and your country, Poland has opened its hearts, its borders to Ukrainian refugees. Are you proud of that? Are you staying in touch with friends and family? Not to go too geopolitical here at all, but it must be something that must be resonating with you. Wondering your thoughts on how proud you are for your country right now.

IGA SWIATEK: Yeah, I am really proud. For sure, the thing is I have been in Poland for like five days. It really hit me all the things that were happening.

You know, it’s hard to like, I don’t know, feel the same things that they are when I am in States basically right now. I’m gonna come back, and for sure I’m gonna catch up with my friends and family.

But I’m pretty happy that, you know, they are supporting Ukrainians. Hopefully my tennis can give them like a little bit of joy. Also, hopefully in future months, I’m gonna also use my position to help a little bit.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon