“Talking About Higher Expectations”: Iga Swiatek’s Mental Coach Reveals Preparations Ahead of Title-Defense at French Open 2021

Published 04/22/2021, 8:30 AM EDT
Tennis – French Open – Galeries Lafayette Rooftop, Paris, France – Poland’s Iga Swiatek poses with the trophy after winning the French Open yesterday REUTERS/Charles Platiau TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY


One of the best contemporary sports psychologists in women’s tennis, Daria Abramowicz was the force or engine behind the incredible rise of Iga Swiatek from a virtual unknown to a Grand Slam champion at the age of 19 at Roland-Garros last year.

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Speaking to UBITENNIS, the Pole, who is in her early thirties and used to be a competitive sailor for her country, shared her thoughts on how she’s going to prepare the current World No. 16 for a successful title defense at the French Open.

Swiatek’s mental conditioning coach says, unlike last year, she’ll carry her nation’s hopes to the French Open this time

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On whether she would resort to some other mental drills for her teen compatriot from what she did 12 months back, Abramowicz said that, unlike last year when Swiatek went in with zero expectations, this time she will be carrying her nation’s hopes into Roland-Garros.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 14, 2021 Poland’s Iga Swiatek celebrates during her fourth round match against Romania’s Simona Halep REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

“We are definitely talking about higher expectations. External but also internal expectations as Iga obviously has some,” Abramowicz said. She added that one of the focus areas of Swiatek’s mental training for the marquee events this year is to manage expectations.

The ace sports psychologist said while some part of the drill is the same as last year, there are certain new elements such as learning to handle expectations and not be weighed down by them.

“There’s a lot of things that we do completely the same as we would have done if she didn’t win (the French Open). We are working on focusing on performance and single tasks. We have discussed a lot about recovery and are implementing some tools,” Abramowicz said.

If Iga Swiatek keeps focus on performance, it will reduce the burden of expectations

Abramowicz added that if an athlete can focus only on her performance and cut out all external noise around expectations, it would take away a lot of pressure that comes with being a defending champion.

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“If an athlete is able to be solely focused on performance, the quality, and the single task, it just fades away that he or she is a defending champion and the expectations are lower, I think,” the mental conditioning coach said.

The 19-year-old Swiatek picked up her maiden Tour title in Adelaide this year to follow up on her glorious Roland-Garros campaign but suffered some early tournament exits thereafter.

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Edited.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

828 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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