Iga Swiatek addresses Rafael Nadal comparisons and ‘Queen of Clay’ label after dominant French Open win

Ewan West
Iga Swiatek in action at the 2024 French Open
Iga Swiatek in action at the 2024 French Open

Iga Swiatek declared it is too early to crown her as the “Queen of Clay” or compare her to Rafael Nadal after making a dominant start to her French Open title defence. 

The world No 1 proclaimed that she is proud of what she has already achieved on her “favourite surface”, but insisted she still has “many things to prove” to be likened to her idol, Nadal.

Swiatek dismantled Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2 in the first round of the 2024 French Open today to extend her winning streak to 13 matches after she won the WTA 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Rome. She has won nine WTA tournaments on clay.

The 22-year-old is looking to win her third consecutive Roland Garros title and fourth crown overall at the clay-court Grand Slam. The Pole will next face fellow four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka in the second round in Paris.

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Nadal, who Swiatek has frequently lauded as her biggest inspiration, has earned the ‘King of Clay’ label as a result of his unparalleled dominance on the surface. The legendary Spaniard has won a record 14 French Open titles.

During her on-court interview after beating Jeanjean, Swiatek was asked by Marion Bartoli if it was time for fans to start calling her the ‘Queen of Clay.’

“I think it is too early for me,” Swiatek said. “For sure, I am proud of this achievement and this has always been my favourite surface, it’s where tennis for me gives the most pleasure.

“For sure, I will be watching Rafa’s match [against Alexander Zverev] but comparing me to him, I don’t think I am at that level yet. I still have many things to prove.

“He’s great person and a great athlete and he has shown that for many, many years. I am just at the beginning, so I will do my best to take my lessons from him and be a good person and a good player.

“But, no, like Rafa, what he did and what he’s still doing, it’s pretty amazing. I never kind of knew that it’s gonna be possible for me. So, it was totally out of my reach, if I can say that.”

Swiatek, who is the heavy favourite to triumph at Roland Garros, could face world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka in the final for the third consecutive tournament at the French Open.

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