Iga Swiatek’s tactics in shock Australian Open loss questioned by pundits

Ewan West
Iga Swiatek 2024 Australian Open upset
Iga Swiatek suffers shock defeat at the 2024 Australian Open

Laura Robson and Mats Wilander have questioned the aggressive tactics of Iga Swiatek after the world No 1 was stunned by Linda Noskova at the 2024 Australian Open. 

Robson feels the upset was “a really disappointing loss” for Swiatek as she “didn’t tactically play a great match”, while Wilander suggested the Pole should “make the game more physical.”

Four-time major champion Swiatek fell to a shock 6-3, 3-6, 4-6 defeat to world No 50 Noskova in the third round of the Melbourne Grand Slam on Saturday.

The pair split the first two sets after earning a single break in each, before the 19-year-old Czech broke Swiatek to take a 2-1 lead in the third set.

Swiatek hit straight back to level at 2-2, but lost her serve again to fall 3-4 behind and Noskova recovered from 0-30 down to serve the match out for the biggest win of her career.

Following the seismic upset, former world No 27 Robson praised Noskova for her composure, but identified Swiatek’s strategy as a key factor.

“I think we’re all a little shocked in Rod Laver [Arena], I just kept thinking she (Noskova) was gonna get a little nervous, but then she didn’t. She wasn’t overwhelmed by the occasion, she came up with some incredible shot-making,” the Brit said on Eurosport.

“In particular, serving it out like that, it’s so difficult to get the first serves in play. And she was really playing it one point at a time. It’s such a stereotype but we just saw how well it works tonight.

“I think for Iga that’s a really disappointing loss because it felt like she didn’t tactically play a great match. She was kinda trying to outhit Noskova from the baseline rather than working her way into the points a bit more, getting some height, taking some pace off at times – so that Noskova was hitting it out of the strike zone.

“Because when Linda is in full flight and she’s ripping the balls left and right, there’s not much you can do when your opponent is playing like that. So I feel like, yes it’s an amazing win for Linda, she played outstanding, but certainly some things that Iga will be thinking as she walks off here.”

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander highlighted a pattern of players attacking Swiatek’s forehand with pace and agreed with Robson’s take on the Pole’s level of aggression.

“She (Noskova) is going to Iga Swiatek’s forehand very often and that’s becoming a very common pattern and it’s something that Iga has to try and work out,” the former world No 1 assessed.

“But not everybody can ball strike like Noskova did tonight, not everybody can be as relaxed as she was. All credit to her, 100%. And then I agree with Laura as well. Iga Swiatek at the moment, of course she’s world No 1, she’s won four Grand Slam tournaments, so it’s hard to complain about it.

“But when she goes back and thinks about it, maybe she should make the game more physical because she’s got that big topspin on the forehand and maybe being too aggressive actually takes time away from herself, rather than slow things down and play with some height.

“But it’s easy to say from where we stand, of course she’s so successful at such a young age and she’s still world No 1.”

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