“He Was Different”: Iga Swiatek Opens Up on Admiration for Rafael Nadal and Similarities in Their Game

Published 05/27/2021, 6:00 AM EDT
Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 16, 2021 Poland’s Iga Swiatek reacts during her final match against Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane


19-year-old Iga Swiatek has a daunting task at hand to defend her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open 2021. Comparatively, Spanish great Rafael Nadal is also looking forward to retaining his Paris crown, except he will be defending it for the fifth consecutive year.

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Interestingly, the Polish teenager has considered the Spaniard as her idol since her childhood. She even possesses a similar playing style to him. Also, they both won at Roland-Garros last year without dropping a set. But what prompted Iga to admire the 20-time Grand Slam champion? 

PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 11: Iga Swiatek of Poland poses on the rooftop of les Galeries Lafayettes Rue de la Chaussee d’Antin with the Suzanne Lenglen Cup following her victory in the Women’s Singles Final against Sofia Kenin of The United States of America on day fifteen of the 2020 French Open on October 11, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Read More: Iga Swiatek Says Being ‘Ambitious’ and a ‘Perfectionist’ Are Her Weapons of Success

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Iga Swiatek reveals why she admires Rafael Nadal

In a recent interview, Swiatek answered why she idolizes Nadal from the pool of many great tennis players. Her answer was concise and to the point.

“I loved how he played because he was different,” the Pole said. However, she later revealed that she has no idea why they have a similar playing style. But she does indeed love to add topspin to her shots naturally.

“I don’t actually know where that came from,” Swiatek continued. “Because I always played like huge topspin, and I love to spin the ball.”

Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 16, 2021 Poland’s Iga Swiatek in action during her final match against Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Recently, Swiatek won her first WTA 1000 event at the Italian Open 2021 in a remarkable manner. She defeated former World No. 1 Karolina Pliskova with a double-bagel in the final.

What’s fascinating is that Swiatek met Nadal before the final in Rome. Later on, even the 34-year-old Spaniard won his record 10th Italian Open title.

Furthermore, the teenage sensation entered the Top 10 WTA Rankings for the first time and took the No. 9 spot. She will turn 20 during the main event at Roland-Garros 2021.

Read More: French Open 2021 to Unveil Rafael Nadal’s Stamp of Immortality at Roland-Garros

Players who can threaten Iga’s title defense in Paris

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Last year, both World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and World No. 2 Naomi Osaka did not play at the premier clay-court tournament. But now, they both will lead the players’ field in the 2021 edition.

Also, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams is looking forward to doing well in Paris. The Madrid Open 2021 winner Aryna Sabalenka is also one of the biggest contenders this year. Unfortunately, the two-time champion Simona Halep will not play this year due to a calf injury.

Iga is still a top-rated favorite based on merit. But it is not easy to enter a tennis court being a defending champion; however, the Pole is confident. It remains to be seen if she can break the norm and defend the women’s singles French Open title.

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Also Read: Why Has Serena Williams Not Won a French Open Since 2015?

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Purav Joshi

823 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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