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Iga Swiatek has become the first Polish woman to be named an ITF World Champion after a stunning year that saw her claim two Grand Slam titles, collect eight titles and embark on a 37-match winning streak through the first half of 2022.

The 21-year-old is the second Pole to win an ITF World Champion award in any category after Lukasz Kubot, who won the men’s doubles award in 2017, and is a richly deserving recipient following an outstanding 2022 campaign.

“This was a big year for me, and such significant awards show me how far I’ve come,” said Swiatek. “I appreciate it and I want to thank the ITF. It wouldn’t have happened without my team, my family, and my fans from Poland and all over the world. Consider it our joint award for amazing adventures on court in 2022.”

A season that began with Ashleigh Barty winning an emotional third Grand Slam title at the Australian Open (before announcing her shock retirement from the sport weeks later) might have struggled for an appropriate heir to the throne were it not for Swiatek, who filled the void seamlessly as the new supreme leader of the women’s game.

Though she lost to Barty in the Adelaide semi-finals at the turn of the year and missed the chance to avenge that defeat when she fell to Danielle Collins in the semi-finals in Melbourne, Swiatek quickly discovered imperious form.

She launched a 37-match winning streak in February that took in six tournaments in a row at Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, Rome and Roland Garros – as well as a brief stop for national duty on home soil in Radom, where she dropped just a solitary game in two matches to fire Poland into the Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals for the first time.

“This was a big year for me, and such significant awards show me how far I’ve come”
Her second Grand Slam title at Roland Garros – two years after she burst on to the scene with her first at the same venue – was similarly emphatic, as she dispatched ever-evolving 18-year-old Coco Gauff 6-1 6-3 in the final.

Alize Cornet, so often a willing giant-killer, finally ended her remarkable winning run in the third round at Wimbledon, but Swiatek’s efforts will go down in history as the longest WTA win-streak in 25 years – equalling Martina Hingis’s 37-match unbeaten run in 1997.

Swiatek’s dominance diminished slightly in the second half of the season but she was at her best in New York, defeating three Top 10 players – including Wimbledon runner-up Ons Jabeur in the final – to secure her first US Open, and third Grand Slam, title.

Two more finals followed, with a runner-up finish to home favourite Barbora Krejcikova in Ostrava preceding victory over Donna Vekic for her eighth title of the year in San Diego. At the WTA Finals, she proved clinical in wins over Daria Kasatkina, Caroline Garcia and Gauff in the group stage, but defeating a fourth top 10 player in a week in Fort Worth proved a step too far as Aryna Sabalenka ultimately edged her in a three-set contest in the last four.

Swiatek’s scintillating year closed with a 67-9 win-loss record, the year-end world No. 1 ranking, and the promise of plenty more to come in 2023.

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