Iga Swiatek, the world number one, has said that she feels more experienced in handling the pressure of being at the top of the rankings. She is starting a new season with a match against Aryna Sabalenka. Reflecting on her ranking at the end of the previous season, Swiatek acknowledged that this year has been different, with many ups and downs and challenges to overcome. The intense matches in Cancún towards the end of the season gave her a lot of confidence and taught her a lot about herself. She feels better prepared to handle the pressure of being number one compared to the previous year.
Swiatek finds motivation and inspiration in being the top-ranked player and sees it as an opportunity to mentally impact her opponents. However, she also acknowledges that there are moments of pressure and ups and downs in tennis, similar to life. She takes confidence from her achievements in the past year, especially reclaiming the number one spot.
Regarding the United Cup, where Poland will face Brazil and Spain, Swiatek views it as a special and exciting event. She enjoys the opportunity to play with her team and feels the support of her teammates, which is different from individual tournaments. Although Poland lost in the semifinals last year, Swiatek believes they gained valuable experience from the competition and hopes to utilize that experience this year.
Looking ahead, Swiatek will attempt to win her first Australian Open title. She has reached the semifinals and the fourth round in previous years but does not feel the need to defend those results. She approaches the tournament with a calm mindset and aims to achieve her personal goals. She acknowledges that winning the Australian Open would bring a different atmosphere and is focused on translating what she has learned during the preseason into her performance.
When asked about potential contenders in the upcoming season, Swiatek finds it difficult to predict who will emerge as top players. In recent years, there have always been players who surprise and achieve breakthroughs. She highlighted Sabalenka, Rybakina, and herself as more consistent players, but she admits that it is hard to identify who may stand out. She also mentions Ons as a consistent player when uninjured.