Iga Swiatek hoping to defend her French Open title despite thigh issue

Iga Swiatek is optimistic of being fit to defend her title at the French Open.

On the day her fellow champion Rafael Nadal announced he would not be in Paris this year, Swiatek gave a more upbeat assessment of her own prospects after withdrawing during her Italian Open quarter-final.

The Pole sustained a right thigh problem during her clash with Elena Rybakina and called it a day at 2-2 in the deciding set in Rome.

Writing on Twitter on Thursday, Swiatek said: “Quick update. A couple of days off for sure. And booking my flight to Paris, so… fingers crossed, please! Hopefully, see you soon.”

The world number one was on a 14-match winning streak in Rome having won the title the previous two years.

In a statement released by the tournament, Swiatek added: “We did an examination with the physio afterwards. It shouldn’t be anything serious, so I’m pretty positive that I’ll be back soon.

“For sure I feel tired. Yesterday I think it was the right decision to stop playing because I felt pain when I was stretching, when I did harder movements.

Iga Swiatek hits a forehand against Elena Rybakina
Iga Swiatek hits a forehand against Elena Rybakina (Fabrizio Corradetti/LaPresse via AP)

“For me, the most important thing is to play it safe and not exploit my body so much in such difficult conditions, after having to play a few matches in night sessions and after midnight.

“To be ready for Roland Garros, I need to recover right now. I’m going to take a couple of days off. With my quarter-final loss, I have also time to then practise right before the tournament.”

Fitness permitting, Swiatek will still go into the French Open as the title favourite but her lead over the rest of the women’s field has narrowed, with Aryna Sabalenka and Rybakina both ahead of her in the 2023 standings.

Sabalenka, who beat Swiatek to win the Madrid Open earlier this month, has never been beyond the third round in Paris but winning the title could see her overtake her rival to become world number one.

The tournament begins on May 28.