World No. 2 Iga Swiatek has finally debuted her On shoes, more than six months after she got into a partnership with the Roger Federer-backed sportswear brand based out of Switzerland.
Appearing in front of fans at the Japan Open for the first time ever, Swiatek downed Mai Hontama 6-4, 7-5 in straight sets to reach the quarterfinals. The four-time Grand Slam champion did not look her best in the clash but still proved too good for the Japanese. Up next, she will take on Veronika Kudermetova in the last eight-clash.
What was most notable about Swiatek’s display on Wednesday were her new shoes. Even though she had been signed on as a head-to-toe On athlete, along with Ben Shelton, the four-time Grand Slam champion had continued playing in her old Asics shoes.
The former World No. 1 had assured fans, however, that she and the experts at On were working on the perfect design for her and that they were very close to perfecting it.
“WE’RE WORKING TOGETHER TO MAKE THE PERFECT SHOE, AND THAT’S WHY I SWITCHED THE SHOE THAT I WAS PLAYING WITH BEFORE,” IGA SWIATEK SAID.
“SO WITH ON, WE’RE BASICALLY DOING THE SHOE THAT IS GOING TO BE KIND OF PERFECT FOR MY MOVEMENTS AND MY STYLE OF RUNNING. WE ARE REALLY, REALLY CLOSE, BUT THERE ARE STILL SOME THINGS THAT I WOULD LIKE TO CHANGE,” SHE ADDED.
FANS IN TOKYO WERE THE LUCKY ONES TO GET THE FIRST LOOK AT THE NEW DESIGN, WHICH CAME IN THE CLASSIC WHITE COLOR THAT HAS BECOME THE SWISS BRAND’S GO-TO SHADE. IGA SWIATEK PAIRED THE SHOES WITH A WHITE CAP AND A BLUE KIT, BOTH FROM ON.
IGA SWIATEK MIGHT HAVE LOST HER HOLD ON THE WORLD NO. 1 SPOT THANKS TO HER RATHER EARLY EXIT AT THE 2023 US OPEN, WHERE SHE WAS DEFEATED BY JELENA OSTAPENKO IN THE FOURTH ROUND. IN HER ABSENCE, ARYNA SABALENKA WENT AS FAR AS THE FINAL, WHICH HELPED HER TAKE OVER THE TOP SPOT AS WELL AS BUILD QUITE A GAP BETWEEN HERSELF AND THE POLE.
IN THE LIVE WTA RANKINGS, SABALENKA HAS ALMOST 1,000 RANKING POINTS MORE THAN THE 22-YEAR-OLD. REGARDLESS, BOTH HAVE ALREADY QUALIFIED FOR THE SEASON-ENDING WTA FINALS, ALONGSIDE COCO GAUFF AND ELENA RYBAKINA.
LAST YEAR, SWIATEK REACHED THE SEMIFINALS OF THE TOURNAMENT BEFORE LOSING TO EVENTUAL RUNNER-UP SABALENKA IN THREE SETS. IN THE GROUP STAGE, SHE BEAT ALL THREE OF GAUFF, DARIA KASATKINA AND CAROLINE GARCIA (EVENTUAL CHAMPION).
WHILE 2023 HAS NOT BEEN AS SUCCESSFUL FOR THE WORLD NO. 2 AS LAST YEAR, WHERE SHE MADE HISTORY BY GOING ON THE LONGEST UNBEATEN RUN ON THE WTA TOUR IN THE 21ST CENTURY, SWIATEK IS NOT TOO CONCERNED. THE 22-YEAR-OLD FIRMLY BELIEVES THAT IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR A PLAYER TO STAY AT THE SAME LEVEL ALL THE TIME.
Instead, she hopes to improve herself mentally in order to deal with the “most stressful moments,” which she reckons is the difference between champions and everyone else at the end of the day.
“After winning so many tournaments as I did last year, everybody kind of expected me to stay on the same level all the time, which is not possible,” Iga Swiatek said.
“I feel like everybody on the top level plays great tennis, but it’s those who can mentally cope with the most stressful moments who are the champions. Even though so much has changed in my life, I feel like I’ve stayed the same person,” she added.