by Randy Walker
Iga Swiatek entered the 2022 Miami Open as a satisfied but distant world No. 2, but leaves as the dominant world No. 1.
Suddenly thrust into the No. 1 ranking with the surprise retirement announcement of top-ranked Ash Barty at the start of the tournament, Swiatek embraced the pressure and ruthlessly plowed through the draw to the title, defeating four-time major champion Naomi Osaka 6-4, 6-0 in the final.
Swiatek did not lose a set en route to the victory in Miami, which coupled with her win in Indian Wells, California two weeks earlier, gave her the sweep of what is now being branded “The Sunshine Double.”
She clinched the top ranking with her 6-2, 6-0 victory over Victoria Golubic in her opening match in Miami. Some speculated that the new pressure of being No. 1, as well as the fatigue of advancing so deep in both Miami and Indian Wells would catch up to Swiatek, but she proved to up to the task.
“She went from being elated to be No. 2 to ‘Oh my goodness,’” said Lindsay Davenport on Tennis Channel in the middle of the Miami Open of the sudden change from being “the hunter” to be “the hunted” in women’s pro tennis.
“I am still hungry. I want to win very much,” said Swiatek to Tennis Channel of her mind-set and her avoiding complacency after clinching the No. 1 ranking. “I knew I couldn’t have focused on rankings, but to focus on tennis.”
Swiatek becomes the first player from Poland to rank No. 1 in men’s and women’s tennis. She burst on the scene as the surprise champion at the French Open in 2020. She joins Steff Graf, Kim Clijsters and Vika Azarenka as the only women to win the “Sunshine Double” of Indian Wells followed by Miami Open in the same year.
“I wouldn’t even have dreamed to be compared to them,” she said of Graf, Clijsters and Azarenka to Tennis Channel.