NEW YORK — Good as she’s been this yr, Iga Swiatek got here to the U.S. Open not sure of what to anticipate.
She complained that ladies use totally different, barely lighter, tennis balls than the lads do at Flushing Meadows, the place she’d by no means been previous the fourth spherical. She was making an attempt to develop accustomed to the noise and distractions, the hustle and bustle, of the Large Apple. And she or he arrived with a file of simply 4-4 since her 37-match successful streak led to July.
None of that issues now. Cementing her standing as her sport’s new dominant determine by successful what is predicted to be the final match of Serena Williams’ profession, the No. 1-ranked Swiatek outplayed No. 5 Ons Jabeur 6-2, 7-6 (5) in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday to assert her first championship on the U.S. Open and third Grand Slam title general.
“Simply not anticipating rather a lot, particularly earlier than this match. It was such a difficult time, you already know?” mentioned Swiatek, who’s 55-7 in tour-level matches with seven trophies in 2022, each greatest within the WTA.
“For positive, this match was actually difficult, additionally, as a result of it’s New York. It’s so loud. It’s so loopy,” she mentioned. “I’m actually proud that I might deal with it mentally.”
Swiatek, like Jabeur, travels with a sports activities psychologist, and it took some fortitude to complete this one off. At 6-5 within the second set, Swiatek held her first championship level. Proper earlier than Jabeur served, Swiatek jogged over to the sideline to vary rackets — an uncommon alternative at that second.
When motion resumed, Swiatek missed a backhand. That would have been robust to get well from. Certainly, Jabeur pushed issues to the tiebreaker, which she then led 5-4. However Swiatek steeled herself, took the final three factors and shortly was accepting the silver trophy and a $2.6 million winner’s verify, joking: “I’m actually glad that isn’t in money.”
The 21-year-old from Poland gained the French Open in June for the second time and is the primary girl since Angelique Kerber in 2016 to gather two main titles in a single season.
“I actually tried, however Iga didn’t make it straightforward for me. She deserved to win at the moment,” mentioned Jabeur, a 28-year-old from Tunisia who will rise to No. 2 within the rankings on Monday.
Smiling whereas taking a look at Swiatek, Jabeur informed a crowd that supplied her loads of help: “I don’t like her very a lot proper now, nevertheless it’s OK.”
Jabeur is the primary African girl and first Arab girl to achieve a Grand Slam ultimate and was taking part in her second in a row. However she is 0-2 at that stage, together with a runner-up displaying at Wimbledon in July.
“I do know I’m going to maintain working laborious, and I do know we’ll get that title sometime quickly,” Jabeur mentioned to her followers and her help group, who wore black shirts with white writing that learn “Yalla Habibi,” Arabic for “Let’s go, my love!”
Didn’t assistance on this sunny, 85-degree Fahrenheit afternoon that Jabeur wanted to cope with Swiatek, who has gained her previous 10 finals — all in straight units — and was nice from the get-go.
Jabeur didn’t face a single break level in her semifinal victory, however she received damaged immediately when Swiatek laced a cross-court backhand winner off a brief ball to cap a 15-stroke alternate.
Eight minutes in, Swiatek had grabbed 12 of the primary 14 factors for a 3-0 edge.
Utilizing her heavy topspin forehand to take cost from the baseline, Swiatek dictated the tempo and trajectory of factors. She ran her opponent this manner and that, by no means letting Jabeur use the types of spins and selection that she’s accustomed to.
When Jabeur did showcase a few of what she will do, Swiatek would handle, most of the time, to elongate factors. She used her sturdy courtroom protection, backed by a soundtrack of squeaky sneakers as she darted in all places, generally even sliding as she arrived at a ball, the way in which one does on pink clay, her favourite floor.
When Jabeur missed a slice forehand early within the second set, she dropped her racket to mirror her despair. A number of factors later, she flung her racket whereas off stability and falling face down. A working, down-the-line backhand passing shot from Swiatek on the subsequent level made it 2-0 in that set. Swiatek raised a clenched fist and yelled, “Come on!”
Then Jabeur did make issues fascinating, briefly.
However solely briefly.
She received to 4-all and, after ending up on her again when an off-balance backhand gained some extent within the subsequent recreation, she stayed there, having fun with the second, pumping her fists whereas laying on the bottom.
Jabeur earned three break possibilities in that recreation, any certainly one of which might have allowed her to serve for the set. She couldn’t money in there, although, lacking a groundstroke on every.
Swiatek wanted to attend 10 minutes from her first match level to the one which closed the competition, however shut it she did. Perhaps she’ll really feel extra comfy on the U.S. Open to any extent further.