Iga Swiatek may be the ‘Queen of Clay’ but she’s been unable to take her form on the dirt and replicate it on grass and at Wimbledon. What does she have to do?

Swiatek strengthened her reputation on clay by capturing a third straight French Open crown with a crushing 6-2 6-1 victory over Jasmine Paolini to claim her fifth Grand Slam title on Saturday.

‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal may have played his last French Open this year but Swiatek comprehensively proved once again she is also Roland Garros royalty.

She became the first woman to win three consecutive Roland Garros titles since Justine Henin in 2007 and only the third to achieve the feat in Open history, along with Monica Seles.

But despite winning the 2018 Wimbledon girls’ singles title the Pole has yet to make it past the quarter-finals at the All England Club, so why the struggles?

Looking ahead to the grass-court season and next month’s Wimbledon, Swiatek said she hoped to adapt quickly to the change of surface a year on from her first quarter-final appearance in west London.

She said: “I felt last year that I could adapt quicker. I’ll see what the plan is for this year, because last year it was the first time I was able to play this tournament before.

“I think to play some matches before Wimbledon is good, but on the other hand, I played basically almost every match in Stuttgart, Madrid, Rome and here, and so we need to take care of my physicality, as well.

“So we’ll see what the plans are. But I think the biggest progress I can make on grass right now is using my serves that was better, but also I don’t expect a lot.

“The balls are different. Overall tennis is different on grass. I’ll just see and I’ll work hard to play better there.

“Last year’s result was pretty nice. I feel like every year it’s easier for me to adapt to grass.

“It’s a huge challenge. If I lost here earlier, maybe I would be able to play two more weeks on grass and then be a better grass player, but if I would choose, I love playing on clay, so I’m not going to give up that ever.”

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Colin Fleming and Anne Keothavong give a masterclass on how Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka execute their forehands

Former British No 1 Laura Robson feels Swiatek’s natural spin on the forehand doesn’t seem to have the same ‘pop’ on grass.

Speaking to Sky Sports, she said: “The lower bounce doesn’t shoot up on the grass court like it does on clay and a hard court.

“In a way because she might need to play a bit flatter, especially on her forehand because her backhand has really, really improved, and she can flatten that shot out and can slice off that side.

“I think her second serve as well… because it’s generally a kick serve but it sits up a little bit more than other players. I think it’s something that she’s probably aware of.

“And she’s coming off a Grand Slam win on clay so I think it would be really tough to reset mentally going into the grass-court season, which you know is not your best and you’ve just won a Slam and everything else.

“There’s just a few areas of her game that might need adjustments to do a lot better on grass but small things make a massive difference on grass.

“The feeling I get from her is that she wants to do these one per cent improvements in every match, let alone for a whole season on grass.”

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Feliciano Lopez, Colin Fleming and Anne Keothavong discuss the Madrid Open final between Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka

Analyst Annabel Croft acknowledged the trouble grass gives Swiatek, even if she sees echoes in the Pole’s demeanour of 22-time major winner Steffi Graf.

“Her ball doesn’t do as much damage on the grass,” said Croft. “She finds it’s very tricky and I think with the grip she has on the forehand side, she’s quite round on the forehand and when players keep the ball low and slice it down on the grass court it’s very difficult for her to get that rolling forehand.

“She likes the ball up high in between hip and shoulder height.

“When she walks on court, the pace that she sets not only when she’s hitting the ball, but the marching in between points and the kind of body language she’s putting out, she’s coming at you with everything.

“Everything is targeted and she’s giving off these signals that ‘I’m in control, I’m setting the tone, I’m setting the pace for this match’. It’s very difficult for any player to keep up with her.

“She does remind me a little bit of Steffi Graf when she was at her height people used to say she was like carrying a briefcase around the court with her the way that she was marching in between points, and the way setting the tone, big forehand winners and hitting winners left, right and centre and there’s a lot about the way that she had that intensity on the court.

“It’s what Swiatek brings to the match court.”

Swiatek will begin her preparations at the Berlin Open on June 17 – live on Sky Sports Tennis.

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Highlights of Swiatek’s victory against Sabalenka from the Rome final

What’s coming up on Sky Sports Tennis?

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In the run-up to the third Grand Slam of 2024 – Wimbledon – you can watch all of the biggest tennis stars in action live on Sky Sports as they compete across the grass-court season.

  • Stuttgart Open (ATP 250 with Andy Murray in action) – June 10-16
  • Rosmalen Open (ATP/WTA 250) – June 10-16
  • Berlin Open (WTA 500) – June 17-23

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