‘Losing No 1 ranking the best thing that can happen for Iga Swiatek’, claims legend

Iga Swiatek at the 2023 US Open

Tennis great Mats Wilander has argued that losing the world No 1 ranking is “most probably the best thing that can happen” for Iga Swiatek’s tennis.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion feels being overtaken by Aryna Sabalenka will give the 22-year-old “a reason to start working on her game again.”

Defending US Open champion Swiatek was upset in three sets by Jelena Ostapenko in the fourth round of the 2023 event on Monday.

The defeat confirmed the Pole’s 75-week reign as world No 1 will end following the tournament, with Sabalenka set to reach top spot for the first time. Her streak was the third-longest in WTA history for a first-time No 1, behind Steffi Graf and Martina Hingis.

Swiatek fell in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and the fourth round of the Australian Open this year, while she claimed her third French Open crown in June.

In an interview with Eurosport, Wilander explained why he thinks losing the No 1 position may be a positive for the four-time major winner.

“I think this is most probably the best thing that can happen for her tennis. There’s a reason for her to start working on her game again and figuring out what happens to her when she plays against big hitters now she doesn’t have to [worry about being world No 1],” said the Swede.

“But she’s right in the statement about defending. We turn into a bit of a negative, we talk about defending, defending points, so I think it’s time for her to step aside and work on her game a bit.”

Swiatek reflected on defending her No 1 ranking and US Open title following her exit from the hard-court Grand Slam.

John McEnroe, another former world No 1 and seven-time major singles champion, also gave his thoughts on Swiatek’s reign at the top of women’s tennis.

“She has done a fantastic job for the most part. Of course there is more pressure and expectations. The No 1 player is looked at more carefully, you have to accept and expect that,” explained the American.

“She won the US Open last year, she’s won three French Opens, she’s carried herself proudly, she has done a fantastic job all in all. But you are the hunted, people are coming after you.”

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