World number one Iga Swiatek has paid tribute to reigning Australian Open champion Ash Barty, crediting her with motivating the women’s Tour to improve.
Swiatek prevailed in two tight sets against big-hitting German Jule Niemeier on Monday night, with the 21-year-old aiming for her second consecutive grand slam and fourth overall.
The Pole took her place atop the rankings after Barty’s shock retirement last year, but credited the Australian for her role in making Swiatek a better player.
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“Last year when I lost to her in Adelaide, I was like ‘I have to do everything to learn how to get back this slice and cope with the change of rhythm’,” she said post-match.
“For the next few months, I was really, really motivated….