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Sport

Swiatek bored by practise but 'a beast' on court, says coach

PARIS (Reuters) - Iga Swiatek finds practise boring but the Pole’s best quality is that she is always ready when she steps onto the court for a contest, her coach Piotr Sierzputowski said on Sunday after the 19-year-old reached the French Open quarter-finals.

Oct 4, 2020; Paris, France; Iga Swiatek (POL) in action during her match against Simona Halep (ROU) on day eight at Stade Roland Garros. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Swiatek stunned top seed Simona Halep 6-1 6-2 in a one-sided contest under the closed roof of the Court Philippe Chatrier to make the last eight of a major for the first time.

Sierzputowski has been working with his young compatriot since 2016, when she was a junior player, and feels Swiatek likes to focus more on the basics than making technical adjustments in her game.

“I think she’s ready for everything on the court,” he told reporters.

“I have a lot of things to work with her on the technical side and tactical side. We have a lot of space to improve. But overall it doesn’t even matter. When she comes to the court she puts the ball right where she wants.

“So this is the best quality of Iga for me. She’s a beast of the competition I would call her. She loves to compete, she never likes to practise, so it’s boring for her. But when it comes to the matches, she’s there.”

Swiatek made her WTA qualifying debut at the start of 2019, even though tennis was not her first priority.

“At the beginning it was really hard for her ... I was calling her semi-pro/semi-amateur in the past, because she was at school, she was studying like a regular person,” said Sierzputowski.

“I always was in the second part of her lifetime. Like I wasn’t, the tennis wasn’t the biggest part of her life. I had to schedule practice in the morning at seven because she had to go to school.

“She’s coming to the practice tired and I’m asking, ‘Why are you tired? Did you sleep well? No, I was studying in the night’.”

Swiatek only managed to win a single game in her 45-minute defeat to Halep at the same stage at Roland Garros last year, but she completed a remarkable turnaround this time.

The 19-year-old credited her sports psychologist, Daria Abramowicz, for making her a more confident player.

“I think there aren’t many people that are talking about like psychology in tennis, so it’s a new thing,” said Swiatek, who has been working with Abramowicz for two years.

“I just believe that mental toughness is like probably most important thing in tennis right now because everybody can play on the highest level. But the ones that are tough and that can handle the pressure are the biggest ones.”

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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