Tennis-Sun-shining on Swiatek as world number one chases the ‘Double’

By Thomson Reuters Mar 20, 2024 | 1:55 PM

By Steve Keating

MIAMI (Reuters) – Only 11 players have completed the “Sunshine Double”, winning Indian Wells and the Miami Open back-to-back, but world number one Iga Swiatek comes to Florida looking to join an even more exclusive club of those that have managed a double-double.

Only two men, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, have won the double more than once while Steffi Graf (1994 and 1996) remains the only woman.

The top seeded Pole, who snatched her first double in 2022, could find herself in elite company if she can hoist the Miami trophy again and few are betting against her.

Swiatek completed the first leg of the double in imperious style on Sunday, steam-rolling to the Indian Wells title without dropping a set, capping off her tournament with a 6-4 6-0 drubbing of Maria Sakkari.

But having just arrived in Miami and not yet set foot on a court, Swiatek was taking a cautious approach.

“I don’t feel we should talk about this,” offered a wary Swiatek during a press conference on Wednesday. “I will do everything step-by-step as usual, no need for me to go and already think about winning the trophy because I haven’t even practised here.

“Obviously it would be a dream come true, it’s not an easy task I felt like I overachieved two years ago so this time I am going to do everything as usual.

“I still have many matches to play,” she added.

Following a first-round bye, Swiatek will open her account on Thursday or Friday against Italian veteran Camila Giorgi, who she has played twice and beaten once.

Twice Grand Slam champion Carlos Alcaraz is looking to become the first man since Federer in 2017 to complete the double and will face Aleksandar Vukic or Roberto Carballes Baena first.

Swiatek returns to Miami in a different place than she was two years ago when she was establishing herself as one of the game’s best, with the Sunshine Double acting as a launch pad helping to rocket her to the top of the world rankings.

This time Swiatek says she returns with nothing to prove and at peace.

“I’ve learned a lot and proved a lot, that was the main theme at the time two years ago to prove to everybody I am in the right place,” said Swiatek. “Now I don’t feel like I need to do that, I feel like I kind of did my job.

“I feel more peaceful, I am in the right place and I am doing a great job.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Miami. Editing by Toby Davis)