“I think I changed a little bit how I was playing because I didn’t want to give any cheap errors and then she just started going for it which really changed the tone of the match,” Sharma said. “I mean once I got that [second set] I was really confident. I felt really good in the third because I wasn’t tired or anything.”
If not for a fear of water, there is every chance Iga Swiatek would be chasing black lines down swimming pools, aiming to follow in her father’s footsteps as a Polish Olympian.
Instead, the 17-year-old will make her Grand Slam debut at AO2019 after winning her third match in qualifying earlier on Friday.
The daughter of 1988 Olympic rower Tomasz Swiatek, the teenager first dipped her toes in the water before picking up a tennis racquet – and it wasn’t with an oar in hand.
After beating American Danielle Lao 6-1 6-3 to book a main draw berth on Friday, the Pole spoke of how it could all have panned out so differently.
“Actually my father didn’t want me and my sisters to be rowers because tennis you can get more from that sport,” Swiatek said. “He wanted us also to play an individual sport so tennis was the best sport for me because I was afraid of water.
“We also tried swimming but that wasn’t a good idea. Tennis was perfect.”
Swiatek signed off on her junior career with a statement breakthrough in 2018. She became the fourth Polish woman to win junior Wimbledon in July, 13 years after her idol, the recently retired Agnieszka Radwanska.
The teenager, eyes peering beneath a Rafael Nadal cap, explains earnestly the importance of not comparing her progress to her famous compatriot.
“She’s a big inspiration,” Swiatek said. “She’s a perfect example showing the young players from Poland that we can do it so that’s motivating me.
“But everyone asks if I’m the next Aga. She made such great results in her whole career that I still have to wait like 10 years to be the same.”