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Swiatek feeling the squeeze from crowded Masters calendar

After winning a gruelling final in Madrid three days ago world number one Iga Swiatek now has to quickly readjust to the clay in Rome for the Italian Open which began on Tuesday.

Swiatek said she had spent the first two days in Rome “eating” after coming through “the most intense and crazy final” to avenge her loss to Aryna Sabalenka in last year’s Madrid final with a three-hour 11-minute victory in the Spanish capital on Saturday.

The three-time French Open champion said that players were feeling rushed by the expanded format of Masters events which have ballooned to nearly two weeks long and which leave little or no time for physical and mental recovery.

“Overall, the Tour is getting more and more demanding because of the length of the tournaments and all these mandatory rules, both on ATP and WTA,” Swiatek said.

“Scheduling-wise, the planning is going to be more important, sometimes even (missing) some tournaments that are important for you, for you to be ready for the next one.”

The top seed will make her Rome start in the second round after a bye, playing American Caroline Dolehide.

Swiatek, who won the 2021 and 2022 editions at the Foro Italico before exiting a year ago in the quarter-finals to eventual champion Elena Rybakina, said the calendar squeeze on players can be huge.

“Even if I win (a tournament), it doesn’t stick in my head. I celebrate for one day, then I’m off to another tournament … in my head.

“We don’t have time to rest properly. You have to use these days (between long-running events) and treat them a little bit like days off.

“These tournaments are longer and it’s not possible to have days off (like) before, so sometimes you have to have them during.” 

The former champion said she’s nevertheless glad to be in Rome, where opening day play was halted for around an hour due to light rain. 

“I’m happy to be here because I love this place. I spent my first two days eating,” the 22-year-old joked.

“I’ve already practiced today in the morning. For sure it’s a challenge to adapt. But it’s nice to have problems like that.”  

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