The parallel here is that tennis was only a minor hobby for Sinner until he turned 12. Then, having established himself as a genuine prospect on the slopes, he suddenly shelved his skis and picked up a racket in earnest. Contrast that trajectory with the British system. By the time our children turn 12, the Lawn Tennis Association has been separating “priority” juniors from the rest for fully four years.
To return to Swiatek, the alarming thing for her rivals is what happens now. How much better can she can become, now that she is no longer carting around her textbooks on “advanced math and English”? As her coach Piotr Sierzputowski has explained, “I had to schedule practice at 7am because she had to go to school and I’m asking, ‘Why are you tired? Did you sleep well?’ She said, ‘No, I was studying during the night.’”
The theory of marginal gains, so beloved of the LTA’s last performance director Simon Timson, has yet to impact on Swiatek’s nascent career. Take her racket, for instance. This hasn’t changed since 2015, when she started using a Prince model – the TXT 100 – that is rarely seen on the tour.
“I think we’re going to test some more [rackets] during this pre-season,” Swiatek acknowledged after her semi-final win over Nadia Podoroska. “I’m going to need to deal with some stuff that I haven’t dealt with before.”
She will also need to deal with newfound fame in her native Poland, which has never previously produced a major champion of either gender. But one suspects that Swiatek will cope. As Brown says, “She is an old head on young shoulders – a little like Martina Hingis at the same age.”
Swiatek’s most important victory of the fortnight was arguably her fourth-round demolition of top seed and tournament favourite Simona Halep. At the post-match video-conference, one question focused on her love of music – not only the raucous Guns N’ Roses track (Welcome to the Jungle) which she used to get her in the mood for each contest but also her wider interest in 1970s rock and even jazz.
“I just wanted to have bigger knowledge about something that is not tennis,” replied Swiatek. It could be the motto for her entire career.