February 27, 2021
Iga Swiatek won the Adelaide International in such emphatic style that you can feel Wimbledon 2021 already beckoning.
The large contingent of Polish spectators went wild in a packed stadium. The good times are back in the tennis world.
And Coco Gauff can leave Australia satisfied with reaching her first WTA 500 semi-final.
Both players were inspired by the passionate support they received as their popularity grows.
No longer do they have to rely solely on listening to their favourite piece of music before a match.
Remember how Swiatek won Roland Garros by listening to “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses each time she strode out to do battle?
She is still only nineteen. And Gauff is just sixteen. The young guns rock and now their fans follow suit!
Swiatek, the French Open champion, is back to her very best form and that bodes well for the summer.
She beat Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-2 with such free-flowing, explosive tennis that there was only ever going to be one winner.
You may recall that Swiatek won the Wimbledon Girls title in 2018 and so she knows how well she can play on grass.
If she reaches the All England Club in this kind of form, she will be a massive contender.
Polish fans filled Adelaide in huge numbers. They will do the same at Wimbledon 2021. The atmosphere will be extraordinary.
Swiatek even switched to her native tongue during her charming victory speech to give thanks to all her supporters. ‘I want to do it in Polish because there are so many Polish people,’ she beamed.
Back in English she concluded: ‘Last but not least, I want to thank my dad, who is kind of like a celebrity right now watching in a TV studio…’
Since Tomasz was once an Olympic rower, he will be amused to hear his daughter’s definition of celebrity, but we take the point. Fame has come quickly for Swiatek after her Junior Wimbledon success.
Thanking her sponsors, she admitted: ‘Sponsors are new to me, because I’m pretty young, so…’ Everything is a fresh thrill for this delightful young lady.
But when she needed to forget the trappings of fame, she did so with ruthless ease. This can best be summed up by Iga’s actions when she led 2-1 in the second set.
The towel went over her head. She breathed deeply then focused. She came out and demolished the Bencic serve with some stunning returns. She followed up by holding powerfully with complete self-assurance.
Back under the towel. More focus. Almost there.
No wonder Swiatek reserved the biggest post-match hug for her sports psychologist, Daria Abramowicz. Tennis is such a psychological game and it’s amazing that other players don’t enlist such prominent help in this area.
Swiatek seized four of her six break points – an excellent return. She hit 22 winners but only made six unforced errors.
Who can live with that sort of accuracy? Bencic was on the verge of tears but spoke both bravely and honestly as she acknowledged a worthy winner.
‘She’s an amazing player, very young and so promising. Tennis can be brutal, you can have a great week and still end up losing and feeling bitter. But I enjoyed playing in front of people so much.’
And what a crowd! An even higher density of spectators than we saw in Melbourne. As the master of ceremonies observed after the final: ‘How great it was to have so many fans in the stadium, filling it up!’
We can’t wait for Wimbledon 2021 to produce another joyous atmosphere. Coco Gauff will be a big part of that.
She produced so many comebacks in Adelaide. She even saved a match point to take the second set against Bencic in the semi-final.
Well done Coco! You always have us on the edge of our seats!
Swiatek is a few years older than Gauff and she managed to avoid such knife-edge suspense. But she was no less of a pleasure to behold as she too chose a gloriously uninhibited style of tennis.
We salute the teenagers of women’s tennis! We can’t wait to cheer on Swiatek and Gauff at Wimbledon 2021.
This Wimbledon will have everything and everyone. The all-time-greats and the new kids on the block. Who would want to miss it?