TENNIS – Swiatek starts Roland-Garros with 28 consecutive victories

This is just one measure of Iga Swiatek’s dominance.

The new WTA number one has 28 consecutive victories, a record surpassed by only three women since 2000: Venus Williams (35 in 2000), Serena Williams (34 in 2013) and Justine Henin (32 in 2008), all number one and multiple. Grand Slam winners.

“I know there will definitely be pressure and I know on clay the media might say I’m the favourite,” said Swiatek, the 2020 Roland-Garros winner who makes his debut on Monday against Lesia Tsurenko, 21st in the standings.

“But honestly I don’t know what to expect because it’s the first time I’ve been in a position like this and I’m number one in the world,” Swiatek said. “I know I’m going to have fun on clay… I always have more motivation before Roland Garros and I’m going to use it.”

The 20-year-old Polish has won her last five tournaments and 42 of her last 43 sets.

It seems everyone in tennis has taken notice.

“It’s fresh. It’s natural. He’s young,” said 13-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal. “As long as she’s playing it seems unstoppable.”

Other aspects of the second big tournament of the year.

DEFENDING CHAMPION

Last year’s champion Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic was unsure whether she could defend her title due to a right elbow injury that has sidelined her since February.

“I don’t have high expectations,” said the number two in the rankings. “Right now I feel healthy. Knock on wood, I feel good. And I think mentally I’m recharged.”

UNBALANCED GROUP

The male group couldn’t be more unbalanced. In the top half of the table are defending champion and number one Novak Djokovic; 13-time champion Rafael Nadal: the 19-year-old Spaniard who has had a sensational season so far, Carlos Alcaraz; and number three Alexander Zerev.

“I think it’s very likely that the Roland Garros champion will be in the top half,” Zverev said.

Alcaraz is the only one of the quartet who will play on Sunday: the others will do so on Monday.

One of the beneficiaries of the draw is number four Stefanos Tsitsipas, a runner-up last year and ranked in the bottom half this year.

THE PANDEMIC

After three quarantines, restrictions in France have been eased, so audiences will return to Roland Garros, and apparently the rest of Paris, mask-free.

Not being vaccinated is not an obstacle as long as you pass a test, so Djokovic will be able to compete, unlike the Australian Open in January when he was kicked out of the country for not being vaccinated.

WHO IS MISSING?

Serena Williams, who hasn’t played since her injury at Wimbledon last year, and her sister Venus, who last competed in Chicago in August, will not be attending. Neither will 2021 finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, whose season ended with a knee injury. On the men’s side, Roger Federer, who hasn’t played since last July; Wimbledon 2021 runner-up Matteo Berrettini, who has had wrist surgery, and two players who pride themselves on being entertained – Nick Kyrgios and Gael Monfils – will also not be present.

GOODBYE

Two 37-year-old Frenchmen who were in the top 10 have bid farewell: 2008 Australian finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon. This is Tsonga’s last tournament; Simon retires at the end of the season.

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