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Swiatek ready for dominant 2024 with eye on Paris Olympics

Iga Swiatek said Thursday she learned a lot about herself this year and hopes to continue the form which returned her to the world number one ranking in a dramatic end to the season, with the Paris Olympics a key goal for 2024. 

The Pole outlined her plans prior to the Friday start of the 18-nation mixed teams United Cup in Perth and Sydney, ahead of the Australian Open in January.

The 22-year-old and ATP Shanghai Masters champion Hubert Hurkacz headline the Polish team and are top seeds, starting their campaign on Saturday against Brazil.

Swiatek came through heroically under massive pressure last month to dominate Jessica Pegula 6-1, 6-0 and win the WTA Finals in Cancun to regain the top spot she held for much of the past two seasons. 

“Even though my ranking at the end of the year was similar to 2022, this season was totally different,” she said. “Lots of ups and downs and some struggles that we had to deal with. 

“Playing these matches in Cancun with such a baggage on my shoulders in terms of rankings, it gave me a lot of confidence. I learned a lot about myself. I’m going to take that into 2024.” 

Swiatek, who had a surfing lesson on Thursday, called the United Cup “a good chance to start the season in a slightly different way.”

Ties comprise men’s and women’s singles and a mixed doubles, with countries split into six groups of three competing in a round-robin format.

“This is a special event,” the winner of four Grand Slam titles said. “It’s exciting and different from any other. Last year the atmosphere was pretty great. I’m pretty sure this year is going to be the same. 

“It’s a different emotional baggage when you play for your country. I was really happy with how I performed (at United Cup) last year. 

“Unfortunately we lost in the semi-finals. We gained a lot of experience. Hopefully, we’re going to be able to use it this year.”

While she juggles the restart of the WTA Tour after less than a two-month pause, Swiatek is also trying to plan for the Paris Olympics in July-August.

“I only played (Olympics) once and the pressure was huge. After I lost against Paula (Badosa), I cried, it was a big fuss,” she said of her Tokyo Olympics experience.

“For sure this time is going to be a little bit different. I’m going to know the venue (Roland Garros). It’s on my favourite surface. 

“But these (Olympics) also bring up more expectations from the outside. I guess I’ll have to do the same kind of work as I do at every other tournament. 

“I’m not going to lie to myself that it’s going to be easy. If I’m going to be in the right mindset and focused on the right stuff tennis-wise, I think I can perform as well as at other tournaments.”

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