World No. 1 Iga Swiatek becomes the first Polish woman to win the US Open

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Even before the start of the US Open women’s final, Ons Jabeur felt she was in trouble against world No. 1 Iga Swiatek.

“Iga never loses finals, so it’s going to be very difficult,” Jabeur said ahead of the final.

Swiatek, the 21-year-old from Poland, was seeking her first major title on hard court after winning two of the last three French Open titles and posting a 37-game winning streak earlier this year.

She did it in impressive fashion, earning eight of the first nine points against Jabeur en route to a 6-2, 7-6(5) win that made her the first Polish woman to win the US Open. Swiatek, the first No. 1 seed to reach the women’s final since Serena Williams in 2014, is now an astonishing 10-1 in the final, having won all 10 without dropping a set.

Swiatek will end 2022 having won two of the year’s four majors – becoming the first woman since Angie Kerber in 2016 to win multiple majors in a calendar year – and clearly establishing herself as the best woman in the world. His 57 match wins this year are by far the most on the WTA Tour.

“For sure this tournament was tough,” Swiatek said on the court. so proud I could mentally handle it.”

Swiatek will take home $2.6 million with the trophy (“I’m pretty glad it’s not cash”) while Jabeur won $1.3 million. For Jabeur, from Tunisia, it was her second consecutive defeat in a major final after losing the Wimbledon final to Elena Rybakina in straight sets. She will move up to world No. 2 on Monday, but Swiatek still has more than double Jabeur’s points.

By winning her third major title at the age of 21, Swiatek proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is not just a clay-court specialist.

“She’s proven that she’s not only a champion on clay, but also a champion on hard courts,” 18-time major champion Chrissie Evert told ESPN.

“She No. 1 in the world and she played like a No. 1.”

In the first set, Swiatek quickly took a 3-0 lead, winning eight of the first nine points. Jabeur got the break back but quickly returned it when Swiatek aggressively attacked with a forehand winner down the line for 4-2. She then took a 5-2 lead when Jabeur hit a forehand volley long on play ball. Swiatek took the first set when Jabeur hit a backhand into the net to end a rally.

Swiatek consistently hit his groundstrokes deep in the court, which made it difficult for Jabeur to play his trademark game of change of pace, hitting and shuffling.

“Ons hasn’t been able to play her creative game that she likes to play,” Evert said.

After the first set, she asked her trainer Issam Jellali what to do, and he advised her to try and move on.

But things haven’t changed much. Swiatek earned another quick break for 2-0 on a two-handed backhand winner on the line.

Things started to get a little crazy inside Ashe in the second set with the fans screaming during the points and it confused both players. Jabeur had a chance to break for 5-4 when the fans screamed on several points.

But Swiatek held 15-40 to take the 5-4 lead with a service winner at 101 mph.

With Jabeur serving at 5-6, 30 all, she sailed a long forehand, bringing Swiatek to match point. But she fought him and brought him to a tie-break.

In the tiebreaker, Jabeur lost 5 out of 6 points on his serve, and Swiatek won it when Jabeur landed a deep forehand on the second match point.

“I really tried but Iga didn’t make it easy for me today,” Jabeur said. “I don’t like him much at the moment but it’s okay… I know I’ll keep working hard and we’ll get that title very soon.”

With all the attention on Serena during the first week of the Open, Swiatek was able to fly a bit under the radar as world No. 1.

“I actually thought about that every time I watched Serena,” she said. “I’ve never been in a situation like being No. 1 and being in this tournament, so it’s hard for me to say.

“It’s hard for me to compare, but yeah, maybe a little bit it took a bit of the pressure off me. But for sure not playing well before that took the pressure off as well.

Swiatek also credited her sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz for helping her with her mental game.

“The work we put in with Daria definitely helped,” she said. “Right now it’s just easier for me to think logically about what I can change. And I feel like I have more skills to do that than just one type of play.

“So I’m quite happy that has changed because I think that’s basically the most important thing at the highest level.”

For Jabeur, she established herself as the first Arab woman and the first African woman to reach a major final – even though she failed twice.

There was a large contingent of fans wearing Tunisia shirts and hats, and Jabeur was greeted with a loud ovation as he presented.

Just as African-American players like Venus and Serena Williams, and more recently Frances Tiafoe, have inspired young players of color to buy a tennis racquet in the United States, Jabeur hopes to have the same impact in Tunisia and beyond.

“I really hope I can inspire more and more and this is just the start of so many things,” Jabeur said.


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