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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday June 22, 2021

 
ga Swiatk

Iga Swiatek and Bianca Andreescu each notched their first career wins on grass on Tuesday at the Viking International in Eastbourne.

Photo Source: Getty

Grass court-tennis has always favored those with more experience. In 2021, experience figures to play an outsized role due to two key factors. 

First, the 2020 grass-court season was completely wiped out due to the coronavirus, and many young players missed a chance to pick up valuable matches on the surface; second, the typical three-week lead-up to Wimbledon has been shortened by a week for most players, due to the fact that Roland Garros was pushed back by a week in 2021.

Tennis Express

That leaves top players, such as Poland’s Iga Swiatek and Canada’s Bianca Andreescu, feeling a little out of sorts on tennis' trickiest surface.

Nevertheless, each earned her first career grass-court win on Tuesday at the Viking International in Eastbourne, a clear sign that things are headed in the right direction.

Andreescu: Back to Basics

Andreescu defeated American Christina McHale, in what was just her third (1-2) career main draw match on grass (second of 2021). Afterwards, told reporters that her serve is one of her biggest weapons on grass.

"I think for me it was super important that I held serve and I used my serve to my advantage, taking control of the point from the start," she said. "You could tell from the second set when she started controlling the point more and my serve wasn't as good... I lost the second set and it showed, and I told myself if the third set to just to continue to move forward as much as I can. I finish a lot of times at the net, too, which helped a lot, continuing to put pressure."

Andreescu told reporters that she has a clear mental picture of how she wants to play on grass, but added that it’s not so easy to make that vision become reality on grass. She also says that playing doubles with Yulia Putintseva this week should help her.

"I do have a good mental image of how I want to be playing on grass, and I know it is not going to come right away - it would be nice - but I know if I keep getting good practice time and more matches, that's why I'm playing doubles as well this week, and I think that's going to help my grass-court game a lot because I'm going to be working on my volley and I want to be coming a lot to the net."

Andreescu says that she wants to simplify her game on grass, because there are some thing that simply don’t work—like high, heavy topspin.

“My high heavy ball isn't always as effective, just because the ball doesn't really bounce, it literally is perfect for the player to attack,” she said. "Today, it kind of worked sometimes, just to change it up, but a lot of other times the ball is coming super fast and you don't always have a lot of options to do—sometimes I'll slice but the ball literally skids super randomly, so I want to keep it simple and I want to continue to work on moving forward, using my serve to my advantage and moving my feet a lot, since the balls are coming fast."

Swiatek: Love-Hate at the Moment

Swiatek, the 2018 Wimbledon Girls’ Singles champion, also won her first tour-level match on grass on Tuesday (1-2) when she defeated Heather Watson in a topsy-turvy affair, rallying from 1-4 down in the final set to win 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-5.

After the match Swiatek talked about the frustration she feels playing on the grass, as she seeks to find her comfort zone on a surface that she has not played on in two years.

“The whole match was pretty crazy and you could see that I have a love-hate relationship with grass, so I'm pretty happy that I came back in the third set,” she said after her match.

Swiatek, like Andreescu, says keeping it simple is the best plan.

"I just keep going back to basics and just not being angry on the surface,” she said. "It was frustrating but you know I just knew that my game developed since two years ago and I can do more and I don't know I just really wanted to win and have another opportunity to learn."

Swiatek says she still finds herself searching for clarity on grass, which is something she doesn’t typically experience on the clay.

“Sometimes I feel like on the clay if I use my plan A and B I can always come back to just playing topspin and just getting the ball back, but here it's different so sometimes I feel like I don't have ideas but actually the thing is that you don't need to have ideas on the grass, sometimes it's just serve, return, serve, return and some drop shots, slices, mix it up a little bit and yeah, it’s good."

Swiatek also says she needs to shore up her court positioning while defending, but adds that overall she feels her shots are good enough to be effective on the surface, especially when she flattens out her forehand.

"I think I need more changes in terms of maybe when I am playing defense I am sometimes backing up like when I am playing on clay,” she said. “It's not really working because then my opponent is going to play a slice or a shorter ball and then you're not there because it's not bouncing on the grass and you don't have time to go forward, so I think I need just to get some experience in things like that, but I think my shots are good when I'm not late or there are not any tricky bounces, they are okay, but you know for sure it can get better, but I wouldn't expect from myself anything special after just a few days on grass.

See Wednesday's Schedule at the Viking International Here

Both Swiatek and Andreescu will be back in action on Wednesday in Eastbourne. Swiatek faces Russia’s Daria Kasatkina while Andreescu takes on Annett Kontaveit. The Canadian (along with Yulia Putintseva) will face top-seeded Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs in doubles action.

 

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