Swiatek feels free of world number one ‘baggage’ ahead of China Open

World number two Iga Swiatek said on Saturday she felt relieved of the “baggage” of defending the top of the rankings and was trying to change her game ahead of the China Open in Beijing.

The Polish star spent 75 weeks at the top of women’s tennis until she was stunned by her early elimination at the US Open this month by Aryna Sabalenka.

Swiatek told a press conference in Beijing that he had accepted the relegation, adding that he had “stopped thinking about the standings”.

felt like I had taken some baggage off my shoulders and that I could focus more on… Back to the more peaceful and normal rhythm of training,” he said.

It’s a little bit easier to get back into the mentality of chasing someone because that’s what we’ve been doing our whole lives,” the 22-year-old said.

“My main goal (in China) is to try to do some things differently on the field, in terms of technique and tactics, to evolve as a player and not chase the qualifications,” she added.

The women’s singles tournament kicks off this Saturday, with the final on Oct. 8.

At a press conference on Friday, Sabalenka said she was “super motivated” to finish the year at the top of the leaderboard.

It’s also a matter of finishing the year as world number one and staying there as long as possible,” the Belarusian said.

Sabalenka faces a tricky match in the first round against former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin of the United States.

Swiatek faces Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo, while world number three Coco Gauff faces Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova.

The China Open is being held for the first time since the pandemic and since the world governing body for women’s tennis ended a boycott of the country.

The Women’s Tennis Association had withdrawn from China following complaints of sexual assault filed by player Peng Shuai against a senior government official.