World No1 Iga Swiatek has revealed Aussie golden girl Ash Barty has ‘inspired her’ and hopes to catch up with the reigning Australian Open champ while Down Under
World No1 Iga Swiatek has credited Ashleigh Barty with being the inspiration behind her stunning run of form and admitted she had mixed feelings when the Australian retired in March.
The Polish effectively replaced Barty at the top of the WTA rankings when the Aussie star stepped away from the sport and justified her status by winning the French Open and US Open.
Swiatek won 37 consecutive matches between February and July and made nine finals, winning eight titles in the process.
Iga Swiatek will lead Poland in the inaugural United Cup in Brisbane on Saturday
Barty shocked the tennis world nine months ago, leaving the sport just two months after he followed up his Wimbledon triumph in the summer of 2021 by winning the Australian Open.
In April, Swiatek admitted she cried for more than 40 minutes after Barty announced her retirement, but has now explained how the Aussie’s decision to retire from tennis pushed her to prove herself.
‘At first I wasn’t sure if this was my place, you know,’ Swiatek said in Brisbane on Thursday ahead of Poland’s United Cup campaign.
‘Ash, he seems to be a huge role model for everyone in terms of his behavior on the court but also off the court.
Ashleigh Barty was world No1 when she announced her shock retirement in March
‘She really set the bar pretty high, so I need to show it to people but also show it to myself that I’m in the right place.
‘I feel like it’s a great pleasure, because I’ve been working all my life to get to this point. I never really thought it was possible for me.’
Swiatek heads into next month’s Australian Open as the runaway favourite, but insists there are areas of his game he still needs to work on.
And he revealed he hopes to meet Barty during his stay in Australia to thank his former rival for being the catalyst for his recent success.
Swiatek captured his first Grand Slam crown in June when he won the French Open
The Pole has made nine finals and won eight tournaments this year, including the US Open (above)
‘Maybe this week we will meet and I will tell him directly [Barty]but she really inspired me to work harder,’ she added.
‘His different style of play made me realize that there is always room for improvement.
‘Even now I feel that I can change and improve a lot and I’m quite excited that even though I had a good season this year I can do different things.’
Swiatek and his Poland teammates will make their United Cup debut on Saturday against Kazakhstan.