Liudmila Samsonova has said that she feels Iga Swiatek is "the real No. 1" in regards to her sportsmanship and personality despite the latter being overtaken by Aryna Sabalenka in the WTA Ranking last month.
World No. 15 Samsonova is currently competing at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, where she will play her group-stage matches against Zhu Lin and Veronika Kudermetova.
This comes after a strong season for the Russian. She has built up a 33-23 win-loss record on the WTA Tour, most notably reaching the final of the Canadian Open in August where she finished as runner-up to Jessica Pegula.
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Following this, Samsonova made it to another WTA 1000 final at the China Open earlier this month, where she was yet again denied the title by World No. 2 Swiatek. The Polish player has four Grand Slams to her name and was No. 1 for 75 weeks before Sabalenka overtook her at the 2023 US Open.
Samsonova praises Swiatek's kindness
Ahead of the tournament in Zhuhai, Samsonova revealed who she thought was the best female player of the year. The 24-year-old praised Swiatek, detailing how the 22-year-old had comforted her after their match at the China Open.
"Iga, 100%. I'm feeling she's the real No. 1. We were speaking in the final of Beijing. She came to me and she was really nice during the ceremony. It was like, 'I know sometimes it's tough.' When I started to know her better and be closer to her, I felt something special," she said.
She was then asked whether or not she still respected Swiatek despite losing to her.
"So even if she beat you, you still hold the respect to her?" the interviewer asked.
"Yes, a lot," Samsonova replied.