Iga Swiatek has become the first Polish player in history to win a Grand Slam title after defeating Sofia Kenin in a roller-coaster match at the French Open.
The rising star, who had never won a WTA title of any kind until now, saw off Kenin 6-4, 6-1, in a showdown that saw her rival struggle with injury during the closing stages. Swiatek’s 84-minute triumph saw her hit more than two times as many winners than Kenin (25-10) as she broke her six times in total. She has become the first female player to win the tournament without dropping a set throughout since Justine Henin in 2007.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” a stunned Swiatek commented on her Grand Slam triumph.
“I am so happy and so glad that my family was here to watch me play.
“It’s crazy. Two years ago I won a junior Grand Slam (at Wimbledon) and right now I’m here. It feels like such a short time and I am just so overwhelmed.”
In what was a rematch of their clash in the junior competition of the tournament four years ago, 19-year-old Swiatek battled through a nerve-stricken opening set which had various twists and turns resembling San Francisco’s infamous Lombard street. Prior to Paris her only experience of a tournament final on the WTA Tour was at a International event in Lugano, Switzerland. A stark contrast to reigning Australian Open champion Kenin who was playing in her seventh.
The underdog started the match guns blazing with a three-game winning streak that saw her open up an early lead. However, Swiatek’s stronghold didn’t last for long with Kenin hitting back with revenge as she took advantage of a tentative service game by her opponent to claw back and level. The cat and mouse chase continued with the world No.53 withstanding some powerful hitting from across the court as she produced a series of impressive drop shots. Swiatek had a chance to close the set out whilst leading 5-3 but failed to convert. Enabling Kenin to break back once again with the help of a winning return. Despite the blip, she prevailed in the following game after a backhand from the frustrated American sailed wide.
Four games away from the biggest title of her career, Swiatek’s momentum in the match came to a halt after Kenin walked off the court for a medical timeout three games into the second set. The issue was related to her upper left leg which she has had some taping on. Kenin returned to the court with extra taping around her entire thigh.
Resuming play, the dynamic of the final had changed. Kenin was still fighting hard but it was visible that she was struggling with her movement on the court and close to tears. Meanwhile, Swiatek stuck to her game plan as she continued to show impressive mental resistance on the court. Something she attributes to her time spent with sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz.
Surging towards the French Open crown Swiatek showed little signs of nerves as she raced to a set and 5-1 lead. Serving for the title, a serve down the centre of the court was returned out by Kenin to hand the Pole her first championship point. Victory was then sealed with the help of a forehand winner aimed at the corner of the court.
“I think I was mentally consistent and I just wanted to play aggressive as I have done in previous rounds,” said the newly crowned champion.
“I felt like today was really stressful for me. It was kinda hard but I don’t actually know what made the difference (between her and Kenin). I won the match point and that made the difference.”
Swiatek is the seventh unseeded woman to contest the final of a major tournament since 2010 and the third to win. Following in the footsteps of Jelena Ostapenko at the 2017 French Open and Sloane Stephens at 2017 US Open. Furthermore, she is the second-lowest ranked player to contest a French Open final since the WTA ranking system was created in 1975.
“For another underdog to win a Grand Slam in women’s tennis, it’s crazy,” she commented.
Besides the victory, the Pole also paid tribute to her father. Tomasz Swiatek is a former professional rower who represented his country at the 1988 Summer Olympics.
“He taught me how to be a professional (athlete). It’s hard to describe but he raised me in this way that I feel pretty confident on the court. He gave us everything,” she said in tribute.
Swiatek will rise to 17th in the world rankings on Monday. She exits Roland Garros with $1,900,000 in prize money which is more than what she had earned in her entire career prior to the tournament.
Ash Barty Eases Into Madrid Final
Number 1 seed Ashleigh Barty beat Paula Badosa 6-4 6-3 to reach her fourth final of the 2021 season at the Madrid Mutua Open after winning three titles at the Yarra Valley Classic, Miami and Stuttgart.
The first set went on serve in the first nine games. Barty earned two break points in the 10th game with a lob and loose forehands from Badosa. Badosa saved two set points with winners, but Barty converted her third chance after a double fault from Badosa to close out the first set 6-4.
After an early trade of breaks, Barty earned her second break after a double fault from Badosa in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead. The Aussie star saved three break points in the fifth game and held serve for 4-1 with a dropshot. Barty dropped just two more points on serve to close out the second set 6-3.
Barty has extended her red clay winning streak to 16 consecutive matches and her win-loss record to 25-3 this season.
Barty has clinched her 16th consecutive win on red clay. The Australian player avenged her recent defeat against Badosa in the quarter finals in Charleston.
“It was important for me to get that early break back in the second set and keep my nose in front, almost force her to come up with something that was going to be a really high level to be at a high level to be able to get back into the match. I have learnt a lot about clay, without a doubt. I promise you, I am still counting down to the grass court season. It’s one of the my favourite times of the year. I think the memories and the learnings now that we are getting from the red clay has been really cool, to be able to challenge myself in different ways”, said Barty.
Ash Barty Battles Past Petra Kvitova In Madrid
Ash Barty is into the semi-finals of Madrid for the first time after defeating Petra Kvitova.
The world number one needed three sets and just under two hours to beat the three time Madrid champion.
Ashleigh Barty is into the semi finals of the Mutua Madrid Open after beating the number nine seed and three time champion Petra Kvitova in three sets 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted just under two hours.
The world number one hit 15 winners, served six aces while her Czech opponent his 44 unforced errors in the loss. It was the Aussie who got off to the best possible start holding her opening service game and earning three chances to break in the following service game.
“I started off particularly well, Petra (Kvitova) struggled to find the court a little bit and gave me some cheap points, In the second she served particularly well and I feel like she made a lot more first serves so it was important for me to try and manufacture a break early in the third just to break some momentum and try to find my way back in”
She would break the number nine seed with a sublime return winner to take an early 2-0 lead before the Czech tried to get back into the set earning a break chance of her very own the next game but it was immediately saved with a big serve and Barty held serve.
The world number one continued to dominate the first set earning two more chances to go up a double break which she would convert and would serve out the set in 25 minutes.
The second set is where the Czech number nine seed bounced back and after holding the opening service game broke to take an early lead before the Aussie tried to get the break back but was denied and Kvitova saved three breakpoints.
She would serve out the second set to force a third and deciding set and once again that’s where the number one responded earning the first break of the third set.
The number nine seed had a chance to back on serve but the Aussie would save the break opportunity with a gutsy second serve ace but the resilient Czech stayed in the match and got the break back to go back on serve at 3-2.
Unfortunately for her the Aussie pushed hard once again for the crucial break in the match and would convert on her third attempt and that break was enough for her to serve out the match.
She will next face Paula Bodosa who earlier in the day became the first Spanish women to reach the semifinals at the Madrid Open after upsetting the number eight seed Belinda Bencic and she told Ubitennis what the experience will be like playing in a stadium with fans who will be cheering against her.
“It doesn’t bother me, I’ve played matches in Australia where I’ve had them on my side but it’s a different element, it’s exciting to be able to play in front of a crowd, were grateful this week that we got people to be able to enjoy it with us and enjoy the matches and she’s had an exceptional week, having played her a couple of weeks ago there were things from that match that I learned and we try and take those into account tomorrow as best we can and go out there and try to execute”
Ash Barty Explains How Rise In Tennis Has Affected Her Life
The world No.1 outlines how tennis has impacted her as a person following her latest win in Madrid.
With prize money earnings exceeding more than $18 million Ash Barty says she still sticks to the same ‘10 or 15’ t-shirts over the past five years and rotates between them.
The former French Open champion is currently the highest ranked player in women’s tennis and has won 11 WTA titles so far in his career. Including two this year in Miami and Melbourne. However, the Australian has insisted her rise in the sport hasn’t changed her as a person. Instead she describes it as more of a learning experience.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have many experiences over the last two or three years in my growth and development as a tennis player,” she said following her third round win at the Madrid Open.
“My experiences as a tennis player haven’t changed me as a person. They’ve certainly helped me grow and develop and become a better person, but they certainly haven’t changed any of my true values or anything that I live by. Whether it’s 1 or 100, as a person I couldn’t care less how the tennis works out.”
Despite her success, the Australian stresses that she is no different to everybody else. Last season Barty missed a major of the Tour due to travelling concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since returning to action in February, she has won 22 out of 25 matches played and is currently on a 14-match winning streak when it comes to playing on the red clay.
“I’m not a massive person to go out shopping,” she admits. “I’m a jeans and T-shirt kind of girl. I’ve had the same 10 or 15 T-shirts for five years. I rotate through. Sometimes I’ll go out on a limb and get a different colour that’s not gray, black or white.”
Taking to the court in Madrid this week, the Jaguar logo is placed in the centre of Barty’s dress. She has been endorsed by the company since late 2018 and even drives their F-Pace SUV back in Australia. Although she has recently gained a Porsche after winning the Stuttgart Open in Germany. Is there a temptation to change car brands in the future?
“I don’t know. I love my Jag, that’s all I’m going to say,” she commented. “It was obviously a very cool gift. The tournament in Stuttgart has been doing it for a long time. Porsche has been a great sponsor for them. But I love my Jag.”
On the court in Madrid Barty faces a potentially tricky encounter in the quarter-finals against Petra Kvitova who has already won the tournament on three previous occasions which is more than any other female player. She has won four out of their five most recent meetings on the Tour but still trails their head-to-head 4-5.
“I love to play Petra. She brings out the best in me,” Barty stated. “I just said to Tyz (coach Craig Tyzzer) that we’re going to be counting in Roman numerals the amount of times we’ve played. It’s another challenge, another test. She’s won this tournament multiple times, loves the conditions here. It’s a fresh challenge for me.”
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