School's out for Swiatek, maybe for ever

Paris (AFP) –

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Iga Swiatek arrived at the French Open puzzling over whether her future was on a tennis court or inside a university lecture hall.

Now, having stormed into the final at Roland Garros, school may be out permanently for the 19-year-old, the first Polish woman to make the championship match in Paris since 1939.

"Right now it's going to be hard to make a decision to go back to studying because I feel like really I can achieve big things. I just want to focus on that," said Swiatek, who reached her maiden final at the Slams by easing past Argentine qualifier Nadia Podoroska 6-2, 6-1 on Thursday.

"But I'm only 19, so a lot can change during a few years. We are going to see. Maybe I'm going to be, like, hungry for knowledge. Really I'm not going to make decision right now."

In 2019, Swiatek made the last 16 in Paris where she lost in just 45 minutes to 2018 Simona Halep, claiming just one game.

After that bruising experience, she headed back to high school to complete "six or seven tests" before hopping back on a plane to play at Wimbledon.

This year in Paris, she said she was treating the next two seasons as "gap years" having used the coronavirus lockdown to complete her graduation exam.

"Finally, I was kind of free," she told rolandgarros.com. "I want to have two gap years to see how my tennis is going to develop when I don't have other things in my life.

"So I just want to fully focus on that. It depends, if I am going to be top 10 and I am going to be fighting for Grand Slams, then for sure I am not going to have time for university. I am going to work more on my image and my career. But if I am still top 100 for a few more years, then probably, I am going to go to university."

After her win on Friday, Swiatek will jump from 54 in the world to 24.

Should she defeat world number six Sofia Kenin in Saturday's final in Paris, she will break the top 20 at 17.

"Right now it would be hard for me to study in this tournament and after. So I'm just going to focus on doing tennis, tennis-related stuff, as good as I can," she added on Thursday.

"I'm just going to deal with it later. But really I think if I'm going to be in a few finals of Grand Slams, it would be impossible to study and play that kind of tennis consistently."