French Open 2021: Can Iga Swiatek defend her title?

Iga Swiatek stunned the world last year when she won the French Open as an underdog. This year, she comes as one of the favorites to win it! Can she live upto the expectations?

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Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek

Last year at Court Philippe-Chatrier, a teenager stepped up to the occasion delivering one of the most dominant maiden grand slam performances and everybody knew at once, a Pole Star was born! Iga Swiatek won her first grand slam in Paris, defeating American fourth seed Sofia Kenin in the Final 6-4,6-1.

She had never won a WTA singles title before and her only Tour-level final was in Lugano in 2019. It is to be noted that only two years back she won the 2018 French Open doubles and Wimbledon titles on the junior tour.

Swiatek single handedly dominated the fortnight in Paris. Not only she didn’t drop a set, neither of her opponents could win more than 5 games in their match. The maximum number of games either of her opponent took from her was four, in the final Kenin won 4 games in the first set while Su-Wei Hsieh took 4 games in the second set of second round.

Such was her dominance, that she dropped just 28 games in the entire tournament and defeated the likes of top seed Simona Halep, 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, Nadia Podoroska and Sofia Kenin en route her title run. And hence, it is needless to say that she is one of the major contenders at the 2021 French Open.

Iga Swiatek’s form in the 2021 season

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek

After winning the French Open, Swiatek has gone up the ladder in terms of her performances. She won her first WTA title at Adelaide earlier this year without dropping a set. And this Clay season too, has lost only one match to World No.1 Ash Barty in Madrid.

In Rome a week back, she won her first WTA 1000 ‘double bageling’ Karolina Pliskova in the final. Her win in Rome also pushed her inside the Top 10 in the WTA Rankings for the first time. Going into her title defense in Paris, she is ranked 9th in the world and is on a 6 match winning streak. Since Roland Garros last year, she was lost just one match on Clay and has a 15-1 win loss record.

Having said that, the Pole sensation will be of the top contenders in Paris. Many consider her an outright favorite to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen for the second time in a row. But a lot will depend on the draw too. Swiatek won’t be seeded in the top 8 and hence will face a top 8 opponent in the Round of 16.

The only player to have defeated Swiatek this season on Clay is Ash Barty who will be the top seed. And hence the Pole would want to avoid her in the Round of 16 or the quarter-finals. If Swiatek has been drawn in the bottom half, she could have a realistic chance of completing the ‘Double Delight’ in Paris. Justine Henin was the last women to defend her French Open title in 2007 and only time will tell if Iga Swiatek could do the same 14 years later.

Also read: French Open 2008: The day Rafael Nadal became the ‘King of Clay’