Will Swiatek finally conquer the grass this year?

by Simon Zeitler
swiatek on grass court

With the bigger part of the clay season in the rear mirror, we are in the short but buzzing grass season, where the change of surface is one of the biggest challenges in this sport. And the WTA World No. 1 Iga Swiatek is amongst those players, who struggle with this change. Why is this and how might she be able to adapt this year?

Iga’s past results on Grass

The Polish standout player has an ever-growing resume of victories, currently standing at 29 career titles and 5 Grand Slams. But if you go through this list, one thing stands out: there is not a single title on grass amongst these. She still has a 70,9% win rate on grass, which a lot of players would love to have, but compared to her 81,8% total win rate, this still looks to be her worst surface.

Her track record at Wimbledon fits into this narrative, with her quarterfinal in 2023 being the best result to date. But she clearly does not have her best results on the faster grass court surface, and we want to dive into the reasons for this and if this could be the year for her.

How does her game change on grass?

Of course, similar to many countries in Europe, you usually grow up in Poland playing tennis on mainly clay-, and maybe some hard courts. And while there are more and more hard courts in Europe, there hardly are any grass courts outside of the U.K. today. This shows every time we hit the surface, as the British players adapt a lot easier to a playing style, that requires fast reactions and touch. So, for Iga Swiatek this likely also means that her experience on grass is limited and that her playing style developed on mainly clay and hard courts.

This shows especially once she sets foot on a clay court, where her loopy swings and high-spin shots stand out from the field on the WTA tour. Iga can generate topspin second to no other, her kick serve is close to a men’s spin and she moves incredibly well. But unfortunately for her, these qualities all get taken a bit away from her by the grass courts. Her serve is not the flattest one out there and in comparison to Rybakina, Sabalenka and Gauff, she hits less aces straight through the court. Additionally, her loopy strokes require a longer setup time, and her topspin doesn’t fare as well on the grass.

Other players on tour therefor can block her shots easier and take her pace with them, taking time from Iga in turn, that she would need for the next shot respectively. This favors the other top players in direct matchups, but also opens a margin for the challengers below, especially if they master the grass courts better.

It doesn’t help to win RG, unfortunately.

One factor, that stands out to me as contributing in Swiatek’s problems in the grass season, is that she mostly has the longest possible of clay seasons. She won the tournament in 2020, 2022, 2023 and 2024 of course. With that, and a couple of days off the recover, there almost is no preparation time possible before entering the first grass tournament. The Roland Garros – Wimbledon double is considered as the hardest feat in major tennis for most, as it also seems to be the tripwire on the way to a Calendar Year Grand Slam for most.

The last woman to pull off this miracle was no other than Serena Williams, and we all know how dominant she was on tour. Of course, the men’s side has seen the Big Three completing this challenge recently, but it takes not only dominance to win these two titles. You need to be absolutely confident in your abilities and be able to adapt quickly to the changed surface. 

Is 2024 the year for Iga?

So, how does this apply to the outlook of 2024 for Iga Swiatek? To be honest, I do not think it changed much from last year, unfortunately. Her clay season was crowned once again and she absolutely dominated the second week of Roland Garros, but she also showed some weaker performances and struggled against Osaka in the early rounds.

And this kind of tennis, lots of hard serves and short rallies, will be the grass game in general. Let’s see how Iga will start her grass season and where this will be.

She cancelled her start at the Berlin 500 event, due to still feeling an ongoing tiredness after her victory in Paris. She hasn’t been seen on any other entry list, so she might only play Wimbledon and focus more on the Olympics, which on her favorite surface should be hers to lose.

What do you expect from Swiatek and others on grass? And who is your favorite to win the 2024 Wimbledon women’s title so far? Let us know in the comments! 

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1 comment

Jack June 20, 2024 - 23:28

Not this year. This time around, Olympics in Paris is her short-term goal, so Wimbledon will have to wait.


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