STUTTGART — Iga Swiatek assured reporters she is fully fit ahead of her title defense at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
In March, the World No.1 Swiatek was forced to withdraw ahead of the Miami Open and Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers with a rib injury sustained during her run to the Indian Wells semifinals.
“I’m not injured anymore, so that’s the most important thing for me,” Swiatek said at Media Day in Stuttgart. “I feel like I used that time in Warsaw well to rest a little bit and to not think about tennis.
“I have still been working out physically a little bit and obviously coming back to practicing step by step. Here I am, and I think I’m ready.”
Last year, in the midst of her 37-match win streak, Swiatek made her tournament debut in Stuttgart and proceeded to roll to her fourth consecutive title. Facing No.3 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the final, Swiatek cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 win.
While a number of top players like Caroline Garcia, Coco Gauff and Elena Rybakina were tied up with Billie Jean King Cup duties last week, Swiatek arrived to the Porsche Arena early and has kept her days busy with intense practice sessions. Hitting sessions with Barbora Krejcikova, Donna Vekic and Caroline Garcia have knocked off any residual rust she might have felt after her break.
“It’s pretty easy to kind of just imagine that you are doing the same stuff on a match,” Swiatek said of her practices. “So I really use that to kind of get my focus 100 percent and imagine what decisions I would make during the match.
So I would say, I’m ready. We’ll see on court, but honestly, these practices tell me that I play like I wouldn’t even had a break. So it’s pretty nice.
“I feel like after my experiences with injuries, like when I was younger, 2019, I always came back fast. So I hope it’s not gonna change when I’m gonna get older, but I feel like I’m still capable to do that.”
Swiatek will face a challenge in her opening match Thursday against China’s Zheng Qinwen. The World No.25 has taken a set off Swiatek in both their previous meetings. Zheng has every reason to be confident going into their next match. As opposed to their first two matches, which came last year at the French Open and San Diego, Zheng says she’s fully fit for this encounter.
“First time when I meet her, she was No.1 in the world, [and] I was coming from nowhere,” Zheng said after her straight-sets win against Alycia Parks in the first round. “First time for me to play in that atmosphere.
“I think now I get a little bit more experience. I wish in the next match I can have a good performance. I want to show my best tennis.”