French Open: Swiatek plans to spend 21st birthday watching Nadal-Djokovic tussle

By Sports Desk May 31, 2022

Iga Swiatek has revealed her low-key 21st birthday plans, saying she simply wants to watch two tennis greats in action at the French Open.

Swiatek progressed to the quarter-finals at Roland Garros by defeating Zheng Qinwen on Monday.

The Pole, who won her maiden grand slam title in Paris two years ago, dropped a set for the first time in more than a month as Zheng took the opener, but she came back to win 6-7 (5-7) 6-0 6-2.

Swiatek has now won 32 matches in a row, with only Venus Williams (35) and Serena Williams (34) now having enjoyed longer streaks this century.

The world number one is also the fifth female player to win 15+ consecutive matches as the number one in the 2000s after Martina Hingis, Serena Williams, Justine Henin and Dinara Safina.

Monday's win provided an early birthday gift for Swiatek, who turned 21 on Tuesday.

And while her main focus will be on a last-eight showdown with Jessica Pegula, she wants to celebrate by watching Novak Djokovic take on 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal.

"It is always pretty hard to celebrate when you are in the middle of the tournament, but I hope I'm going to have time on my day off to do something," Swiatek wrote in her column on BBC Sport.

"I never plan things for my own birthday – it's not like I'm going to throw a party in the locker room! I just hope I will get a proper rest. But I heard my team have prepared something fun for me – so we will see.

"As everyone knows I am a Rafael Nadal fan and I would love to watch his match against Novak Djokovic.

"I will be too curious about what will happen not to see it, but I will watch on TV rather than at the stadium. I watched Rafa's last match against Felix Auger-Aliassime, although not the full game because it was so long.

"During the tournament I need to be focused on my own preparations, my rest and my routine. That's why I won't be going to watch the quarter-final in the stadium.

"But, like always, I'll be rooting for Rafa."

Swiatek added that the inspiration she takes from 21-time grand slam champion Nadal only grew after she visited the 35-year-old's academy in his native Mallorca.

"Recently I went to Rafa's academy in Mallorca and saw all his trophies in the museum he has there," she added. "I got more excited about those trophies than the ones I saw when I went to Real Madrid's stadium, although they were impressive too.

"I was really in awe at seeing the grand slam trophies Rafa has won. But I was also amazed at all the others, like the trophies he has won at Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Rome. There are so many!

"It was amazing to see the consistency he has had during his career and seeing all his trophies was really inspiring."

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