October 4, 2020
Iga Swiatek is a name to remember for Wimbledon 2021 – and one that poor Simona Halep will never forget.
The top seed had won seventeen matches in succession and was everyone’s hot favourite to take the Roland Garros title once more.
Incredibly, Halep was never seriously in the match against Swiatek.
Simona recently said that last year’s Wimbledon final victory against Serena Williams was her perfect match.
Today in Paris she came up against a young star who just played her own perfect match.
The Wimbledon champion, defeated by a young woman dressed in Wimbledon white.
Halep was caught cold in the chilly Parisian air. She was swept aside 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and eight minutes.
Every time Simona tried to gain a foothold, Swiatek held her nerve and struck the ball so sweetly that the best player in the world was blown off the mountain.
Iga’s performance was staggering in its all-round quality. A perfect marriage of impeccable timing and supreme mental strength.
How can we put this into context and describe what it was like to witness such jaw-dropping brilliance?
We expected the natural order to be restored half-way through the match. It never happened. Maybe this is the start of a new natural order.
This is one of the biggest shocks in recent Grand Slam history. No wonder Swiatek hid her head in her towel for a few seconds as she took it all in.
Later she said: ‘I’m kind of speechless and super-tired because I was so focused for the whole match.
‘I lost to her before but I’m more experienced now and I can handle the pressure and I’ve made a lot of progress. I hope I’m going to develop.’
If she develops much more than this it will be frightening. And to think, she recently wondered whether it was wrong to focus exclusively on tennis.
‘I thought I should get another hobby, like music or something,’ she explained.
Nothing to stop her doing that in her down-time on tour. But more than ever this modest, Warsaw-born tennis genius must realise that she has found her calling.
Swiatek isn’t entirely unknown. The 19-year old Pole has been hovering around the top fifty but all that’s going to change now.
It isn’t hard to imagine London’s vast Polish population flocking to Wimbledon to see their new superstar.
At Roland Garros it was the Romanians who could be heard trying to raise their favourite’s spirits.
Try as they might with their cheering and clapping, those supporters simply couldn’t turn the tide. No one could have done.
Halep wasn’t even playing badly. She only made two unforced errors in the first set and got blasted off court by 17 winners.
By the end of the match, Swiatek had topped thirty winners. She could have played as many sets as Halep wanted. It wouldn’t have ended any differently. The underdog was just infinitely superior on the day.
Swiatek was a Wimbledon junior semi-finalist four years ago. She could be the next big thing on grass, too. We can’t wait to find out.
No one will fancy playing her on clay in the coming week either.
Now that the world is talking about her, the true test will be whether Swiatek can handle the weight of expectation.
Right now, it doesn’t look as though anything or anyone can stop her.
And isn’t it thrilling to be able to look forward to seeing yet another rising star at Wimbledon 2021?
We’ll see Iga there. And you too, we hope!