Polish star Iga Swiatek has surprised herself with the strong physical and mental position she finds herself in ahead of her debut at the Adelaide International on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old, who burst to prominence last October with her jaw-dropping run to the Roland Garros title, is the fifth seed at Memorial Drive this week and plays American Madison Brengle in the first round on day two.
Britain’s Johanna Konta, the No.3 seed, also gets under way on Tuesday when she she faces American Shelby Rogers, while there are all-Aussie clashes between Sam Stosur and Madison Inglis, and Storm Sanders and Ajla Tomljanovic.
World No.1 Ash Barty will play her opening match on Wednesday against American Danielle Collins.
Swiatek, who is on course for a quarterfinal clash with Barty, advanced to the fourth round at last week’s Australian Open, where she fell in a three-set battle against second seed Simona Halep.
But instead of suffering a post-Slam let-down, Swiatek insists she is feeling sound in both body and mind as she looks to continue her strong start to the tennis season.
“I’m really excited. And actually, that’s the first time after a Grand Slam that I’m not like exhausted, so I’m looking forward to my first match,” said the world No.18, who opens against a qualifier.
“I love the site. I love that we can be outside a lot, and even though we’re in a bubble, we can like spend time in the sun and just have fresh air. So that’s great.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 12, 2021
“Usually after Grand Slams I came back home to rest because I felt that like the Grand Slam is really intense time. So that’s the first time I’m playing a tournament right after and I feel like really well.
“Hopefully maybe I’m kind of growing up and right now I’m going to be ready to play week by week.”
Swiatek ended her 2020 season with that title run at Roland Garros, not dropping a set in seven matches to become the game’s newest major champion despite being ranked outside the top 50 at the time.
Her fourth-round victim in Paris was Halep, whom she crushed 6-1 6-2 in a statement victory.
Swiatek’s loss in their Australian Open rematch initially rocked her, given she won the first set before her game became mired in errors.
But with some time and space between her and that last outing, she can now see the positives stemming from the 3-6 6-1 6-4 defeat.
“I was like really mad at myself because I felt like I made like a lot of mistakes and unforced errors in the second and third set. But after analysing, and actually when I went to the press conference (after) the match, it was like enough time for me to realise that she just played her best tennis,” Swiatek said.
“I like confirmed to myself that it was like a really good match and that day I did the most of what I could do and we have been working since then on some details, like receive and placement of serve.
“But there is not like magic I can change because I feel like I played pretty good tennis in Melbourne and also right now.”
It continues what Swiatek believes has been a strong start to the season.
And that is an impressive outcome, given a “hectic” off-season – due to the explosion in her profile following her Roland Garros breakthrough – meant she was denied something of a calm environment to prepare for 2021.
“Knowing that I feel pretty happy with my performance,” she said.
“We analyse what I did wrong during my last match against Simona and we have been working on that. But there’s no like pressure because I feel like I’m playing good tennis.
“I am probably going to play a lot of tournaments this year, so I don’t need to hurry and win right now.
“I just want to enjoy being on court and we’re basically working on some details.”