Top-ranked women’s tennis pro Iga Swiatek left social media users baffled last week when images of her practicing with her mouth taped began to circulate online.
On Monday, Swiatek explained to the media that strange sight is actually just one of her many unique training methods.
“Honestly, I don’t get it either,” the 23-year-old world No. 1 said with a laugh during a press conference ahead of the National Bank Open (Omnium Banque Nationale) in Montreal this week.
“It’s harder to breathe when you’re only breathing with your nose, and it’s easier for my heart rate to go up. I think it has something to do with endurance, but I’m not going to explain it to you appropriately because I’m not an expert.”
The method, implemented by fitness coach Maciej Ryszczuk, helps to restrict Swiatek’s oxygen intake which helps to improve her endurance on the court, according to the WTA Tour’s website, and it is one of many unique training methods that are a part of Swiatek’s preparation.
She is the only player to travel with a full-time sports psychologist, according to the tour’s website, and her team uses special equipment to measure her brain and heart activity for stress indicators.
“Sometimes I don’t get the things they tell me to do either, but I’m doing that for a long time now so it got pretty easy,” Swiatek added.
Fresh off winning her fourth title of the year at the Poland Open last month, Swiatek said she feels more “confident” heading into this hard court season.
“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,” Swiatek said. “This year I don’t have that. I feel more confident.”
A four-time Grand Slam champion, Swiatek is looking for back-to-back titles at the U.S. Open later this month. She will open this week with a second round match against Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday.