Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur entered Arthur Ashe Stadium as the two best players in the world, those who have outplayed the rest of the field this year. Yet, by the end of the game, the women’s landscape was even clearer. Jabeur gave everything she could, she came back into the game strong on the brink of a crushing defeat, but Swiatek is the sport’s singular dominating force.
After navigating her various struggles throughout the summer and tournament, the 21-year-old played free with the title on the line, then held off a late push from Jabeur, hanging on to win the title. US Open for the first time in his career with a tense 6-2, 7-6(5) win.
With her win, Swiatek became the first woman to win two Grand Slam titles in a year since Angelique Kerber in 2016, after winning the French Open earlier in the season. The Pole is now fourth among active players for total Grand Slam tournaments, with three in total. She also earned 10,365 ranking points, an accolade that only Serena Williams has earned since 2013.
“I’m proud to have a lot more solutions and options on the court than before tennis-wise, but also mentally,” Swiatek said. “I use those skills quite well. I’m really proud of that because I know what it’s like not having ideas on the court, not being able to change anything to improve the game. Right now, it’s been a long time since I had any idea.
Since his 37-match, six-game winning streak came to an end in the third round of Wimbledon, it has taken effort for Swiatek to reestablish his grip on the circuit. She had come to New York with a 6-4 record over the summer and she made it clear that she didn’t like the lighter US Open balls used by women. “I’m not expecting much, especially before this tournament. It was such a tough time and coming back after winning a Grand Slam is always tricky,” she said.
But when it mattered in New York, she was ready. Swiatek twice recovered from a set down and led 4-2 against Aryna Sabalenka in the deciding set of her semi-final. As Swiatek usually does in the final, she initially played with freedom despite the title on the line.
“I’ve finally accepted that I’m going to make these mistakes. It won’t be like on a slow surface where I can, I don’t know, build a rally and then be really calm and just finish. There will be more risk and less control, that’s for sure. So I accepted that,” she said.
While Swiatek countered much of Jabeur’s attack with depth, the pitch seemed so narrow for the Tunisian whenever she had the upper hand, but she was also under constant pressure. Swiatek attacked with his destructive weapons from both wings and all parts of the field.
She forced her 28-year-old opponent to play to her limit and do it consistently, and the Tunisian started spraying mistakes as she tried to force her best. But Jabeur never stopped fighting. His forehand started to land and push Swiatek back, and from 2-6, 0-3 and a double break point on his serve, Jabeur eventually generated two break points at 4-4 as Arthur Ashe Stadium roared with approval.
Jabeur eventually forced a tie-break, drawing a standing ovation from Ashe after saving a match point, but Jabeur’s increasing number of errors late in the tie-break was enough for her to abandon the match.
Despite her frustration, Jabeur was, as always, positive as she digested her second straight Grand Slam final loss after losing the Wimbledon final to Elena Rybakina. Jabeur continued its steady and gradual growth, taking its losses as lessons.
“Fortunately, it’s me. I struggled to win my first WTA title. It took me a long time. So I think it will take me some time. The most important thing is to accept it, to learn from the final that I lost. But yeah, I’m definitely not someone who’s going to give up. I’m sure I’ll still be in the final. I will do my best to win it. I’m not sure, but I know I’ll do my best. said Jabeur.
Swiatek started the season ranked ninth in the world, one of many top 10 faces, and the way she separated herself from the pack was stunning. His 55-7 win-loss record this season now, 8-1 against the top 10 players, and his only loss against his predecessor at No. 1, Ash Barty.
The defining quality of Swiatek’s young career so far, however, is her killer instinct when titles are on the line. She has won 10 consecutive finals, having lost her first-ever final, won all 20 sets and stifled all opponents with an average of 3.6 games conceded in his previous nine. Jabeur pushed her more than any player in a title match since her rise to prominence, but Swiatek still had the composure to see it through.
“Now. I have to be content with what’s happening right now. I’ll see how I react. Because winning the US Open is also different from winning a slam in Europe or Australia because I don’t know how popularity will change, if it will change. For now, I will kind of watch and learn.
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