How does Iga Swiatek stay ahead? Perhaps with the help of innovative training techniques, such as practicing with tape over her mouth to try and improve her endurance levels. Swiatek was seen trying the exercise in preparation for the Canadian Open in Montreal, and explained the thinking behind it and why she is feeling "more confident" this summer than she did in 2022.
Iga Swiatek has revealed the reason why she was seen preparing for the Canadian Open by practicing with a piece of tape over her mouth.
Swiatek is the top seed at this week’s WTA 1000 event in Montreal and will be looking for back-to-back titles after winning on home soil in Warsaw.
During her preparations for the tournament, she surprised on-lookers by playing with a piece of tape across her mouth in a practice session. "It's harder to breathe when you're only breathing with your nose, and it's easier for my heart rate to go up," Swiatek said ahead of her opening match against Karolina Pliskova.
"I'm not going to explain it to you perfectly because I'm not an expert. Sometimes I don't get the things they tell me to do, but I'm doing that for a long time now so it got pretty easy.
"But for sure you can see the difference in how everything you do on the court is getting more and more hard with that tape on your mouth. So I guess it's the way to kind of work on my endurance by not having me run so fast and do extreme things."
The Canadian Open marks the start of Swiatek’s North American hard-court lead-up to her US Open title defense later this month.
She says she feels “more confident” heading into this stage of the season than she did last year, when she saw her 37-match streak ended at Wimbledon and then lost in the quarter-finals in Warsaw, which was played on clay rather than hard courts as it was this summer.
"I remember for sure I had some technical struggles that I focused more in terms of where I wanted to improve, but I was kind of stuck with a few shots that I didn't like. This year I don't have that. I feel more confident."
"I think playing Warsaw on hard court changed a lot the perspective because last year, switching from grass to clay and then to hard court was really tricky.
"This year, I feel like it's a really nice process without any extra obstacles. So it was pretty easy for me to just focus on work.
"I think it's great before the whole swing and before the US Open."
Swiatek holds a 744-point lead over world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka.
Both were beaten in the third round of the Canadian Open last year so have the opportunity to gain ranking points this time around.