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US Open 2021 tennis – Iga Swiatek ‘inspired’ by practice session with world No 1 Asheligh Barty

US Open 2021 tennis - Iga Swiatek 'inspired' by practice session with world No 1 Asheligh Barty

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Iga Swiatek says she has been “inspired” by practising with world No 1 Ashleigh Barty ahead of the US Open.

Swiatek, who won the French Open in 2020, has not had the best hard-court summer so far, losing in the second round of the Olympics and first round of the Western & Southern Open.

She faces Fiona Ferro on Thursday as she bids to reach the third round and equal her best showing in New York.

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In preparation for the tournament she hit with Barty and world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka, and was particularly impressed by the Australian.

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“It’s really inspiring,” she told the WTA. “Practising with Ash is different because you can see her mentality and the way she treats things. When she makes a mistake, she’s not frustrated. She doesn’t seem to. Even when she is frustrated she uses it to play better and better.

“So I’m trying to learn from her. I think I need a few more years to understand completely how to get there. But she’s a great player to watch and take some lessons from her.”

Now ranked No 8 in the world, Swiatek has made the last 16 or better at her past four majors.

She says she is still adjusting to her position at the top of the women’s game, having enjoyed a rapid rise over the last two years.

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“Right now I can feel that with my ranking it’s sometimes easier to practice with players who have a better ranking than me,” she said. “I know in practice you shouldn’t look at rankings and I know that’s stupid, but everyone is doing it anyway. It’s hard sometimes to separate it.

“But I can see that with top players, it’s back to normal, back to one year ago when I was still an underdog, back when it was easier. It was nice to have that feeling again. But it would be nicer to learn how to play as not an underdog. I’m giving myself time.

“I came to win, I came prepared, but in a match it’s a different story. I know I can play good tennis but in a match I have to use different skills.”

Swiatek started her US Open campaign with a straight-sets win over American Jamie Loeb, hitting 23 winners and winning 17 of 21 first-service points (81 percent).

Reflecting on her performance, she said: “It’s the first round so my level isn’t going to be as high as usual, but that’s normal.

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“I think I’m going to get into the rhythm in the next round. But I’m really happy with how I played this. My opponent played really well. When my shots didn’t have perfect precision, she used that and she played really fast.

“So it was kind of weird because I wasn’t in the rhythm, but I thought that I could let her sometimes make mistakes because I felt that she was risking a lot with her shots. At the end it worked out pretty well.”

Swiatek is in the same quarter of the draw as Barty, with the pair potentially meeting in the semi-finals. Before then Swiatek could be set to meet 11th seed Belinda Bencic.

Barty, Emma Raducanu, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Karolina Pliskova are also all in action on day four at Flushing Meadows. Barty faced Clara Tauson, 18, in the first match on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

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