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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday October 8, 2023

Iga Swiatek has had her share of ups and downs in 2023, but the Polish star has never wavered in her desire to continue to evolve as a player. Whether she is on top of the world or reeling from a tough loss, Swiatek keeps a level head and stays humble. She’s always working to improve and to get the best of herself.

Tennis Express

We saw her best once again this week in Beijing, as she claimed her 16th career title and became just the sixth player to win five titles in back-to-back titles since 2000.

Since 2000 Players to win five or more titles in successive season on WTA Tour:

The players on that lofty list – Venus Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin, Caroline Wozniacki and Serena Williams – with Swiatek give us an idea of the greatness of the 22-year-old. This is a very special player, doing very special things, even if she doesn’t always match our loftiest of expectations.

For Swiatek, who was disappointed with the way her summer went as she failed to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon (quarterfinal loss to Svitolina) and the US Open (round of 16 loss to Ostapenko) and lost the No.1 ranking to Aryna Sabalenka, the hard work is paying off down the stretch in 2023.

She told reporters, after her 6-2, 6-2 takedown of Liudmila Samsonova in Sunday’s final in Beijing, that the experience of the last two months will give her confidence for the rest of her career.

“I feel like this tournament will give me confidence for the rest of my career that there's always ability, I mean, a chance to overcome and work on what you do or what you feel,” she said. “You can always get better. Sometimes it's kind of pretty easy, but we tend to make it more complicated in our heads.”

Swiatek says that after the US Open she put in a tremendous amount of effort to get her game humming – that hard work has now paid off.

“I'm really happy that I just focused on hard work. It kind of paid off – maybe not instantly, but I'm happy that after the US Open I just got back to basics and just worked really hard tennis-wise. I'll just continue to do that,” she said, adding:

“For sure winning this trophy is something that will, yeah, teach me kind of a lesson for the rest of my life.”

Cancun the next big challenge

With that satisfying experience under her belt, Swiatek will head to the WTA Finals in Cancun with wind in her sails. With the year-end No.1 ranking on the line, she hopes she can keep the energy high.

“Cancun is really important tournament,” she said. “I want to get ready and also kind of continue the work I've been doing after US Open in terms of technique and what I want to improve on court.

“I'm going to spend two weeks home and I'm going to probably practice, like, eight days, and the rest are going to be days off. I don't think there's going to be a lot of time for me to do anything more. I'll just focus on work and on the last tournament of the season.”

Next time at No.1, Swiatek will handle it better

Speaking of handling the pressure of being No.1, Swiatek admitted that there were times during her run of 75 weeks at the top of the WTA Tour that the stress weighed her down.

She believes she’ll be better at handling it if she gets back to the top.

“For sure, there was a lot of pressure during past seasons,” she said. “I would say the progress that I've made was pretty fast and I kind of wasn't expecting to become world No. 1 last year. I had to deal with a lot of things and kind of grow up tennis-wise really quickly – for sure, the pressure and everything that's happening outside of the courts, it's kind of, hard to deal with sometimes.”

Swiatek says it is all part of the fun.

“On the other hand this is part of the sport and we have to learn how to adjust and how to, like, really keep focusing on tennis and not all of the stuff around,” she said. “I would say if I would become world No. 1 again, for sure I think I would be kind of more prepared for everything. It's not like I would change some things exactly, but I would know how to deal with them at this point.

“I think if I learn and take lessons from it, it's going to be easier. But for sure the first thing is getting there. I'll just try to do that. For now, step by step. I'll just celebrate this trophy.”