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Poland's Iga Swiatek celebrates after winning the Women's Tennis Grand Prix WTA tournament final against Aryna Sabalenka in Stuttgart on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Stuttgart: Three-time Grand Slam champion Iga Swiatek said she had to learn how to manage the pressure of being world No 1 and not let expectations weigh her down as the Pole prepares to defend her French Open title next month.

The 21-year-old beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-4 in Sunday’s Stuttgart Open final for her second successful title defence this year, adding to her victory in Doha.

Focusing on the game

Asked how she settled into her status as world No 1, Swiatek she had tuned out the noise and was focused on her game.

“Last year was really, really tough, and I felt like this season may be tough, because of what people are saying and expectations from the outside,” Swiatek said.

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Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek with their trophies after the final. Image Credit: AFP

Affected by pressure

“I’m happy that I managed to work through it. That was probably the biggest thing that I had to go through at the beginning of the year.”

Following her fourth-round exit at the Australian Open in January, Swiatek said she had been affected by the pressure and that she had been going into matches hoping not to lose rather than wanting to win.

“Now I feel like I just can use my experience a little bit more, more than worry about stuff,” she said. “I’m just happy that I’m world number one for more than a year, and it’s an exciting time.”

The French Open runs from May 28-June 11.