Poland Garros! Iga Swiatek sweeps Sofia Kenin for bonkers French Open title
Polish Iga Swiatek won a Grand Slam tennis tournament with the best combination of unannounced dominance in more than 40 years and won the French Open without dropping a set. In the final on Saturday, she beat the American Sofia Kenin 6: 4, 6: 1.
Swiatek, a 19-year-old ranked 54th in the world, won her first WTA Tour title of any kind. She had only played one previous final, the fewest of all women who had won a major trophy since at least 1979.
"I don't know what's going on," Swiatek said in court. "It's just overwhelming for me. It's crazy. Two years ago I won the Junior Grand Slam [at Wimbledon]. Now I'm here."
Swiatek surpassed fourth seed Kenin, the Australian Open champion with the strongest grand slam record this year. She hit 25 winners with 17 unforced mistakes, breaking Kenin's opening game in every set.
"I was mentally consistent," said Swiatek, whose routine was to listen to Guns N'Rose's "Welcome to the Jungle" before the Games and to rely on the same sports psychologist as Olympic Ski Champion Mikaela Shiffrin. "I don't know. I just wanted to play aggressively like in the previous rounds. I had the feeling that today was very stressful for me."
Swiatek is the first woman in more than 40 years to win a major without breaking the top 47 in the world. Women won lower-ranking Grand Slams at the time, but they were former top 20 players who returned from injury, pregnancy, or retirement.
FRENCH OPEN DRAWINGS: Men | Women | Television program
Swiatek prevailed with the most dominant run by Roland Garros in more than a decade. The last woman to win all seven games without dropping a set or facing a draw was Belgian Justine Henin in 2006 and 2007.
The last woman to win in Paris while losing fewer games than Swiatek? Steffi Graf in 1988.
Swiatek was so suffocating in the opening rounds - and the draw resulted in so many surprises - that she became the tournament favorite six days ago after beating top seed Simona Halep in her fourth round in her first big quarter-finals.
"Winning against Simona ... I've already seen the tournament as my life's achievement," said Swiatek, whose father rowed for Poland at the 1988 Olympic Games. "Really, I had no expectations."
Swiatek was the first Polish player to win a major individual title. This was an unpredictable year in women's tennis.
The 21-year-old Kenin prevailed in February and won the Australian Open. For the first time she overtook the fourth round of a slam. She played the final on Saturday with tape on her left thigh and then wrapped it up during a second medical break.
"I'm not going to use this as an excuse, but my leg obviously wasn't the best," said Kenin, noting that it affected her in the third or fourth round. "After the first sentence, I just felt so tight that I couldn't move."
After the halt triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, Naomi Osaka re-emerged as the dominant force, winning the US Open after failing to leave the fourth round of her previous three majors.
With Osaka and 2019 Australian champions Ash Barty not playing against Roland Garros, there were openings at the draw.
Serena Williams retired with an Achilles injury prior to her second-round match and, at the age of 39, tarnished her offer to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
There is currently one more event on the WTA calendar for 2020 that will focus on the next big event, the Australian Open in January.
The French Open ends with the men's final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, live on Sunday at 9 a.m.CET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.
Swiatek, who said she grew up on clay, openly rooted Nadal during her teenage years.
"He was the only player I saw when I was younger," she said.
Swiatek was amazed that she had lifted the trophy on Court Philippe Chatrier, where Nadal had done this 12 times, the first time when Swiatek had just turned 4.
The scene got all the more incredible when Swiatek finished high school three months ago. Instead of practicing, she spent lockdown in Warsaw to prepare for and take advanced math and English exams.
According to RolandGarros.com, she has committed to playing tennis for two years. If she was just a top 100 player and not fighting for Grand Slam titles, she would go to university.
Now Swiatek looks and sounds like she has found her calling.
"I know my game is not developed perfectly," she said. “I also think the biggest change for me will be consistency. I think that's what women's tennis struggles with. That's why we have so many new Grand Slam winners, because we're not as consistent as Rafa, Roger [Federer] and Novak. "
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Poland Garros! Iga Swiatek sweeps Sofia Kenin for Bonkers French Open title, which originally appeared on NBCSports.com
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