NEW YORK — Again in March, when Ashleigh Barty abruptly retired, Iga Swiatek was thrust into the position of No.1 — on the age of 20.
She proceeded to win 37 straight matches, together with the French Open. And now, after Saturday’s 6-2, 7-6 (5) victory towards Ons Jabeur, Swiatek is the US Open champion.
Reasonably than being intimidated by that No.1 rating, Swiatek, it seems, was somewhat impressed.
“I wanted to remain composed and give attention to the targets,” Swiatek stated in the course of the trophy ceremony. “It’s New York — it’s so loud, it’s so loopy.
“It’s actually mind-blowing for me. I’m actually proud I may deal with it mentally.”
Now 21, the age of a typical school junior, Swiatek has grow to be the consummate nearer.
After dropping the opening set of a fourth-round match to Jule Niemeier, she rallied to win, ending with a 6-0 flourish. She averted a 3rd set within the quarterfinals towards Jessica Pegula profitable a tiebreak in stone-cold trend. Swiatek was down 4-2 within the third set to Aryna Sabalenka — and received the final 4 video games of their semifinal.
Towards Jabeur, it got here all the way down to a decent second-set tiebreak — Swiatek’s first in a last. Down 5-4, Swiatek fired a forehand winner that hit the road. When Jabeur’s forehand sailed lengthy two factors later, she had closed one other deal.
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Earlier than this yr, Swiatek was thought of a stronger participant on clay, however by profitable three consecutive WTA 1000s on hardcourts in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami, she modified that narrative. This title in New York underlines her versatility. She’s solely the third lady participant within the final 15 years to win a number of majors in a season on completely different surfaces, becoming a member of Serena Williams and Justine Henin.
“Originally of the season I spotted that possibly I can have some good outcomes on WTA occasions,” Swiatek informed reporters. “I additionally made it to the semifinal of Australian Open. However I wasn’t positive if I used to be on the extent but to win really a Grand Slam, particularly on US Open the place the floor is so quick.
“It’s one thing that I wasn’t anticipating for positive. It’s additionally like a affirmation for me that sky is the restrict. I’m proud, additionally stunned slightly bit, simply glad that I used to be in a position to try this.”
Swiatek has received her previous 10 finals in straight units. This, after dropping her first, on the age of 17 and ranked No.115, to Polona Hercog in Lugano, Switzerland. Going again to ITF occasions, Swiatek has received 17 of 18 profession finals — that’s as clutch because it will get.
Her last general file on this yr’s 4 majors: 21-2.
That is Swiatek’s seventh title of the yr. She’s the primary lady to try this since Serena Williams in 2014 and the primary No.1 seed to take the title since Williams eight years in the past.
To place this win in context, think about that Swiatek is the youngest lady to win her third main title since Maria Sharapova (20) in 2008. Swiatek is barely the ninth participant of the Open Period to win her third main earlier than turning 22. The earlier eight, her new friends on the prime of tennis: Sharapova, Justine Henin, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Martina Hingis, Monica Seles, Stefanie Graf and Chris Evert.
Furthermore, the Roland Garros champion is the primary participant to win two majors in a single season since Angelique Kerber in 2016.
“I feel normally [Swiatek just plays] higher on the proper second, at the details,” Jabeur stated in press. “She is aware of precisely what to do. I really feel like she improved quite a bit from final yr till the start of this yr once more.”
Throughout the first week, Swiatek typically appeared out of rhythm, out of kinds. What modified?
“For positive, the climate modified as a result of it wasn’t that sizzling within the second a part of the event. It was useful. Generally we’ve got many issues really to consider on courtroom. Generally I wasn’t in a position to do it each time, so I used to be making lots of errors. Then I lastly accepted that I’m going to make these errors. It’s not going to be like on gradual floor the place I can construct a rally, then be actually calm and simply end.
“It’s going to be extra threat and fewer management, for positive. So I accepted that. That was the factor that truly let me be extra free.”
This was the championship last the final Grand Slam occasion of 2022 deserved, Ons versus Iga — a worthy battle between the game’s three-letter, first-name stars.
Swiatek, the sport’s greatest returner, is the one participant this yr to interrupt opponents’ serves greater than half the time. Within the first set towards Jabeur, she scored three breaks in 4 video games — she landed all 19 of her returns in play, an absurd one hundred pc. On the identical time, Swiatek put 90 % of her first serves in (19-for-20), profitable three of her 4 service video games.
Serving the primary sport of the second set, Swiatek encountered her first deuce sport. Her response? She painted the strains from each side, which introduced a livid fist pump. Within the second sport of the set, Swiatek broke Jabeur for the third straight time.
After which Swiatek’s degree dropped and Jabeur broke her within the fifth sport to get again on serve. Swiatek, naturally, got here again to interrupt Jabeur for the fifth time in seven video games.
Again on serve at 4-all, Swiatek confronted three break factors and in some way held for 5-4 on the best way to the tiebreak.
The US Open, close to the tip of a protracted yr, with all its atmospheric situations, is perhaps the hardest of the Grand Slam occasions to win. And in reality, given the spectacular listing of opponents, this was Swiatek’s statistically hardest street to a significant title; the rank of her common opponent was 47, in comparison with 55 at this yr’s Roland Garros and 78 for 2020 Roland Garros.
On Monday, Swiatek and Jabeur can be ranked, respectively, Nos.1 and No.2. They’ve scored essentially the most victories on the Hologic WTA Tour over the previous two years and are additionally one-two within the Race to the WTA Finals leaderboard. Each gamers have been showing of their second main last of the season.
However it was Swiatek who walked away with the larger trophy and extra prolific purse.
Upon receiving the $2.6 million winner’s examine, Swiatek bought fun from the group in Arthur Ashe Stadium when she stated, “I am actually glad that’s not in money.”