Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 27, 2022 Poland's Iga Swiatek reacts during her semi final match against Danielle Collins of the U.S. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
March 26, 2022
(Reuters) – Poland’s Iga Swiatek said capturing the women’s world number one ranking was a “surreal” achievement, with the 20-year-old set to replace retired Ash Barty at the top of the rankings.
Swiatek clinched the ranking after defeating Viktorija Golubic 6-2 6-0 in the second round of the Miami Open on Friday, becoming the first Polish player to ascend to the No.1 position in singles.
She will become the new world No. 1 when the WTA rankings are released on April 4. At 20 years, 308 days old, Swiatek will be the youngest player to make her No.1 debut since Caroline Wozniacki in 2010.
“It’s a dream come true, for sure,” Swiatek told reporters. “It’s that kind of thing that I wanted to happen someday, but I didn’t really know that it’s going to be possible for me.
“I never really imagined that moment, because truth to be told, I was working day by day and I was playing tennis well, but I never had that like that strong belief that it can actually happen. So it’s even more surreal for me.”
Swiatek, who won her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open in 2020, said she is ready to deal with the pressure of being the top-ranked player.
“I think it’s going to be a bit different and maybe the hype is going to be a bit bigger, but I’m ready for that,” she said.
“Honestly, it’s like part of the job, so I always knew if I’m gonna succeed, it’s going to be there. I really appreciate people being really enthusiastic and really pumped up because I think sometimes I’m even playing for them.
“But from my perspective, I don’t think anything will change. Maybe I got to watch if I’m wearing clean clothes and really if I’m representing tennis well,” she said with a smile.
Swiatek, who has already won titles in Doha and Indian Wells this year, takes over following Barty’s surprising announcement to walk away from the game after winning three Grand Slam titles including January’s Australian Open.
Barty wasted no time in congratulating Swiatek, who will become the 28th woman to capture the women’s No.1 ranking.
“There is no better person,” Barty said in a message after the match. “The way that she’s brought this fresh, fearless energy onto the court has been incredible.
“I hope she can take it and still be her, do it her own way, and really chase what she’s after in her career and her dreams.”
Swiatek said she was grateful for Barty’s words.
“She’s such a great athlete,” Swiatek said. “I always respect Ashleigh and she gave me huge motivation to work on my tennis.”
(This story corrects date in paragraph 3 to April 4)
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles and Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lincoln Feast.)