NEW YORK — Good as she’s been this yr, Iga Swiatek got here to the U.S. Open uncertain of what to anticipate.
She complained that ladies use totally different, barely lighter, tennis balls than the boys 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 he or she arrived with a report of simply 4-4 since her 37-match successful streak resulted in 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 total.
“Simply not anticipating loads, particularly earlier than this match. It was such a difficult time, you recognize?” 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 alter rackets — an uncommon alternative at that second.
When motion resumed, Swiatek missed a backhand. That might have been robust to get better 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 examine, joking: “I’m actually glad that isn’t in money.”
The 21-year-old from Poland received 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 right now,” mentioned Jabeur, a 28-year-old from Tunisia who will rise to No. 2 within the rankings on Monday.
Smiling whereas Swiatek, Jabeur advised a crowd that supplied her loads of help: “I don’t like her very a lot proper now, however it’s OK.”
Jabeur is the primary African girl and first Arab girl to succeed in a Grand Slam remaining and was taking part in her second in a row. However she is 0-2 at that stage, together with a runner-up exhibiting at Wimbledon in July.
“I do know I’m going to maintain working onerous, and I do know we’ll get that title sometime quickly,” Jabeur mentioned to her followers and her help staff, 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 take care of Swiatek, who has received 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 change.
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 fashion and that, by no means letting Jabeur use the kinds of spins and selection that she’s accustomed to.
When Jabeur did exhibit a few of what she will do, Swiatek would handle, as a rule, to elongate factors. She used her sturdy court docket protection, backed by a soundtrack of squeaky sneakers as she darted in every single place, generally even sliding as she arrived at a ball, the best way one does on purple clay, her favourite floor.
When Jabeur missed a slice forehand early within the second set, she dropped her racket to mirror her despair. A couple of factors later, she flung her racket whereas off stability and falling face down. A operating, down-the-line backhand passing shot from Swiatek on the following level made it 2-0 in that set. Swiatek raised a clenched fist and yelled, “Come on!”
Then Jabeur did make issues attention-grabbing, briefly.
However solely briefly.
She received to 4-all and, after ending up on her again when an off-balance backhand received some extent within the subsequent sport, she stayed there, having fun with the second, pumping her fists whereas laying on the bottom.
Jabeur earned three break possibilities in that sport, 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 snug on the U.S. Open any more.