Victory at the US Open has convinced Iga Swiatek that the sky is the limit for her tennis career.
The 21-year-old Pole has a huge lead in the world rankings, but this was definitive proof that she’s the best in the biz on both hard and clay.
After a 6-2, 7-6 (5) win over Ons Jabeur at Flushing Meadows to add a maiden US Open crown to her two French Open successes, Swiatek said: “At the beginning of the season I realized that I maybe which can have good results in WTA events. I also made it to the semifinals of the Australian Open.
“But I wasn’t sure if I was at the level yet to actually win a Grand Slam, especially at the US Open where the surface is so fast.
“It’s something I certainly didn’t expect. It’s also a confirmation for me that the sky is the limit. I’m proud, also a little surprised, just happy that I managed to do it.”
Her second win at Roland Garros in June was part of a 37-game unbeaten run and it is fitting that Swiatek is the first woman since the American in 2014 to win seven titles in the tournament that Serena Williams is eliminated from one season brought .
A very different character to Williams, the Pole has a reserved presence on the pitch but possesses an inner conviction that has now led her to outright victories in her last 10 finals.
Swiatek was very vocal about her dislike of the US Open balls ahead of the tournament and she had been struggling for form since winning the trophy in Paris.
She had to get out of a set twice on her way to the final, and after being in full control for a set and a half against Jabeur, she really had to rip to make it over the line.
“Of course (at) Roland Garros I always feel like I have more control and I feel like Philippe Chatrier is kind of my place,” she said. “I’ve yet to figure out the atmosphere here on (Arthur) Ashe. I wasn’t sure before the game if that was really my place.”
Aspiring to become the first African and Arab woman to win a Grand Slam title, Jabeur played in her second consecutive Grand Slam final after losing to Elena Rybakina at Wimbledon.
She was more impressive than Swiatek over the fortnight but got off to a nervous start while the top seed was razor sharp from the first point.
Jabeur was staring at a very heavy loss as Swiatek saved break points to make it 4-0 in the second but she couldn’t take it and from then on, through repeated shouts from the crowd, her level dropped while her opponent struggled to get back in the game.
Had Jabeur broken and led 5-4 the fight might have gone to a decider, but Swiatek persevered and, after missing a match point at 6-5, grabbed her second in the tiebreak.
Swiatek collapsed on the pitch as Jabeur’s final shot went wide and cried as she celebrated with her team, before telling the crowd: “It’s New York, it’s so loud, so crazy. I’m so proud that I was able to handle it mentally.”
A rueful-looking Jabeur praised her opponent, saying: “She deserved to win today. I don’t like her very much right now, but it’s ok.”
Later in the press room, the 28-year-old added: “She came out really strong and put a lot of pressure on me. That didn’t help. I tried to get into the match. It was very tough. She often hit lines, which kind of annoyed her.
“In the second set I had my chances again, she had hers. I just came back, came back I know sometimes she didn’t play as well as in the first set, maybe I should have tried.
“I have no regrets because I’ve done everything possible. I wish I had served a little better today. It would have helped me a lot. You know Iga playing in the final. I will stay positive and work on the things that were missing today.”
Inspiring girls and boys from her home country and region is a major motivating factor for Jabeur and she has no doubts that she will have more chances to win her first Slam title.
“Wimbledon was definitely tough,” she said. “This is going to be tough. That’s part of tennis. And I am. I was fighting to win my first WTA title. I needed time So I think it will take time for that.
“The most important thing is to accept it and learn from the finals that I lost. But I’m definitely not one to give up. I am sure that I will be in the final again. I’ll do my best to win it.”
One thing Jabeur, who will return to world number two on Monday, has certainly not lost is her sense of humor and she ended her press conference with a grin: “I was kidding when I said I loved her do not like. I’ll forgive her if she gives me a Rolex or something.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/iga-swiatek-ons-jabeur-new-york-australian-wta-b2164637.html Victory at the US Open convinces Iga Swiatek that “the sky is the limit” for her tennis career.