Iga Swiatek opens up about pressure of being No 1 in WTA Rankings – ‘You feel like everybody is chasing you’

Shahida Jacobs
Iga Swiatek speaks to the media
Iga Swiatek during a press conference

Iga Swiatek started her 90th week at No 1 in the WTA Rankings on Monday and she admits that it is always difficult to “take it easy” at tournaments due to being at the top.

The four-time Grand Slam winner is now just eight weeks behind Lindsay Davenport in ninth place on the list of most weeks at No 1 in the all-time list.

Her position at the top is secured for at least another couple of weeks after world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka opted to skip this week’s Qatar Open.

Swiatek enjoys an 865-point lead over Sabalenka in the current standings, but that will be reduced to 405 points as the Pole is the defending champion in Doha, although if she wins the title for a third consecutive year then the gap will widen to 1,405 points as it is a WTA 1000 event this year.

But the battle for the No 1 spot between Swiatek and Sabalenka has been one of the standout stories over the past year and will continue to grab the headlines in the coming months.

Although being No 1 hasn’t changed her personally, the 22-year-old admits there is added pressure at just about every event.

“I feel like because I’m at the top of the WTA I should have some standards,” she said. “Sometimes it’s a little bit harder to kind of take it easy, because you feel like everybody is chasing you.

“There is some stuff that’s changed because of the position that you’re at, but on the other hand, I always try to remind myself that I’m still the same person no matter what my ranking is and no matter what the number next to my name is.”

READ MORE: How Aryna Sabalenka’s Qatar Open withdrawal affects the world No 1 battle with Iga Swiatek

Swiatek is looking for a three-peat in Qatar this week, but she knows last year’s results count for nothing this time around.

“I learned from last year that there is no point on focusing on defending anything, so it’s a totally different chapter and totally different story,” the world No 1, who will open her title defence against Sorana Cirstea in the second round after the Romanian defeated former US Open champion Sloane Stephens, said.

“I’m going to take it step by step and not really think about what happened last year or two years ago, because we are all at different points in our lives.

“It would be nice if I could play well here, but I already learned that you can’t expect a lot in tennis because it’s going to surprise you.”