Iga Swiatek makes deeply honest confession after Doha final win over Elena Rybakina


Iga Swiatek makes deeply honest confession after Doha final win over Elena Rybakina
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Iga Swiatek admitted that she entered the Doha final versus Elena Rybakina feeling "pretty stressed" because she knew what was at the stake and she badly wanted to claim another win in Qatar and achieve a very impressive feat.

Playing for her third Doha title, world No. 1 Swiatek got off to a pretty rough start against Rybakina as the Kazakh claimed two early breaks for a 4-1 lead. When Rybakina went up by a double break on Swiatek, the Kazakh was all over the Pole and the one controlling the rhythm and the match. 

But Swiatek managed to find a way to get back into the first set and eventually win it with a 10-8 scoreline in the first-set tie-break. It took an hour and 27 minutes for the first set to be concluded. 

After stealing the first set from Rybakina, Swiatek went on to complete a 7-6 (8) 6-2 win over the Kazakh and win her third consecutive Doha title. By completing a Doha three-peat, Swiatek became the first player to win Doha three times and also the first player since Serena Williams to win a single tournament in three consecutive years - the American won Miami for three years in a row between 2013 and 2015.

“You don’t even know how hard it was not to think about it. I came here and I was just pretty stressed because of that because I felt the expectations," Swiatek admitted after the final. 

“But I wanted to just do everything step by step as I always do and again it worked. So thank you to my team also for keeping me on the ground and focusing on the right stuff, because achieving that is great. I’m really happy and really proud of myself.

"Congrats to Elena for a great tournament and to her team. We have already played so many tough matches that I think it's going to be great if we continue, have fun and give a nice experience to the fans."

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Swiatek on making a big comeback in the first set against Rybakina

After going up by a double break, Rybakina had a chance to serve out the sixth game for a 5-1 lead. In that game, Rybakina had 30/15 on her service but then unintentionally hit herself in the leg as she was completing her serve. The hit left Rybakina with a cut and some blood, which briefly suspended the match so the Kazakh could get medical assistance. 

During Rybakina's medical timeout, Swiatek went to her team to try to discuss certain things and seek advice. When the first set continued, Swiatek got one break back in that game and then also went on to win the next three games to open a 5-4 lead. 

Rybakina responded by winning the next two games but then failed to serve out for the first set in the 12th game as Swiatek managed to get the break back and force a tie-break. In the first-set tie-break, Swiatek saved a set point before realizing her fourth set point to win a marathon first set. 

After a tight first set, the second set was a completely different story as Swiatek broke Rybakina in the third and seventh games to routinely win the set and get the job done in straight sets.

“I was just making too many mistakes and I was kind of panicking at the beginning not knowing what I should change," Swiatek said.

“But the coach really had a nice idea and I just kind of trusted him and stuck to his idea and his words. I wasn’t really thinking much myself because it was hard for me to analyse perfectly. So I just trusted him and it worked.”

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Rybakina's words after losing to Swiatek

After winning the Brisbane International in the opening week of the season, Rybakina fell just a win short of winning her second WTA title of the year in Doha. But despite falling just short of winning her second WTA title of the year in Doha, Rybakina kept a positive spirit. 

"It's been a great last two weeks. I didn't expect to see so much support. It really helps, especially when it's such tough matches," Rybakina said.

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Meanwhile. both Swiatek and Rybakina are now set to compete in at a WTA 1000 tournament in Dubai. Swiatek, the top-seeded player in Dubai, had a first-round bye in Dubai, as well as fourth-seeded Rybakina.

Since Dubai kicked off on Sunday, Swiatek learned her second-round opponent after Sloane Stephens defeated Clara Burel. On the other side, Rybakina awaits the winner of the match between Victoria Azarenka and Arantxa Rus.

Swiatek, 22, and 24-year-old Rybakina are both bidding to win their first Dubai titles this year. In the past, Rybakina ended as runner-up in Dubai in 2020 while Swiatek ended as runner-up at the tournament last year.

Iga Swiatek Elena Rybakina