Swiatek beats Jabeur in straight sets for 1st U.S. Open title, 3rd Grand Slam title
World No. 1 from Poland cements status as the dominant figure in women's tennis
Good as she's been this year, Iga Swiatek came to the U.S. Open unsure of what to expect.
She complained that women use different, slightly lighter, tennis balls than the men do at Flushing Meadows, where she'd never been past the fourth round. She was trying to grow accustomed to the noise and distractions, the hustle and bustle, of the Big Apple. And she arrived with a record of just 4-4 since her 37-match winning streak ended in July.
None of that matters now. Cementing her status as her sport's new dominant figure by winning what is expected to be the last tournament of Serena Williams' career, the No. 1-ranked Swiatek outplayed No. 5 Ons Jabeur 6-2, 7-6 (5) in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday to claim her first championship at the U.S. Open and third Grand Slam title overall.
"It's something that I wasn't expecting, for sure. It's also like a confirmation for me that the sky's the limit," said Swiatek, who is 55-7 in tour-level matches with seven trophies in 2022, both best in the WTA. "I'm proud. Also surprised little bit."
WATCH | Swiatek defeats Jabeur in U.S. Open women's final:
She acknowledged harbouring concerns about the U.S. Open after a couple of shaky showings at hard-court tune-up tournaments.
It turned out OK: She is the first top-seeded woman to win the U.S. Open since 23-time major champion Williams in 2014.
"I feel like on court, I can just do my job," Swiatek said, "and I'm happy about it, that I kind of can make these doubts go away."
Swiatek, like Jabeur, travels with a sports psychologist, and it took some fortitude to finish this one off. At 6-5 in the second set, Swiatek held her first championship point. Right before Jabeur served, Swiatek jogged over to the sideline to change rackets — an unusual choice at that moment.
When action resumed, Swiatek missed a backhand. That could have been tough to recover from. Indeed, Jabeur pushed things to the tiebreaker, which she then led 5-4. But Swiatek steeled herself, took the last three points and soon was accepting the silver trophy and a $2.6 million winner's check, joking: "I'm really glad that is not in cash."
"She's really set the bar very high. It's great for our sport," said Jabeur, a 28-year-old from Tunisia who will rise to No. 2 in the rankings on Monday.
She is the first African woman and first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam final and was participating in her second in a row.
But she is 0-2 at that stage, including a runner-up showing at Wimbledon in July.
"Definitely, I'm not someone that's going to give up," said Jabeur, whose support team wore black shirts with white writing that read "Yalla Habibi," Arabic for "Let's go, my love!"
"I am sure," she added, "I'm going to be in the final again."
Didn't help on this sunny, 29.4-degree Celsius afternoon that Jabeur needed to deal with Swiatek, who has won her past 10 finals — all in straight sets — and was great from the get-go.
Jabeur did not face a single break point in her semifinal victory, but she got broken right away when Swiatek laced a cross-court backhand winner off a short ball to cap a 15-stroke exchange.
"The only match here where I started that well," said Swiatek, who had to come back from a set down in the fourth round and the quarter-finals.
Eight minutes in against Jabeur, Swiatek had grabbed 12 of the first 14 points for a 3-0 edge.
"Put a lot of pressure on me," Jabeur said.
Using her heavy topspin forehand to take charge from the baseline, Swiatek dictated the tempo and trajectory of points. She ran her opponent this way and that, never letting Jabeur use the sorts of spins and variety that she's accustomed to.
When Jabeur missed a slice forehand early in the second set, she dropped her racket to reflect her despair. A few points later, she flung her racket while off balance and falling face down. A running, down-the-line backhand passing shot from Swiatek on the next point made it 2-0 in that set. Swiatek raised a clenched fist and yelled, "Come on!"
Then Jabeur did make things interesting, briefly.
But only briefly.
She got to 4-all and, after ending up on her back when an off-balance backhand won a point in the next game, she stayed there, enjoying the moment, pumping her fists while laying on the ground.
Jabeur earned three break chances in that game, any one of which would have allowed her to serve for the set. She could not cash in there, though, missing a groundstroke on each.
Swiatek needed to wait 10 minutes from her first match point to the one that closed the contest, but close it she did. Maybe she'll feel more comfortable at the U.S. Open from now on.
Canada's Shaw loses in wheelchair quad doubles final
Canada's Robert Shaw and American partner David Wagner came up short of the U.S. Open wheelchair quad doubles title on Saturday.
The second seeds lost 6-1, 6-2 to top-seeded Dutch duo Niels Vink and Sam Schroder.
Shaw of North Bay, Ont., and Wagner won 74 per cent of first-serve points, but only broke on one of six opportunities compared to five of nine for Vink and Schroder.
Match points on match points on match points<br><br>7⃣ US Open wheelchair titles were awarded today! <a href="https://twitter.com/DeloitteUS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DeloitteUS</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USOpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USOpen</a> <a href="https://t.co/k0MZArNAEC">pic.twitter.com/k0MZArNAEC</a>—@usopen
The 31-year-old Shaw dropped the opening round of the quad singles to Vink, who is the world No. 1, earlier in the tournament.
It is Shaw's first time on the Grand Slam stage, having made his Paralympic debut last summer. He lost in the first round to Andy Lapthorne in Tokyo.
Shaw is currently ranked as seventh in the world in quad singles.
Australia's Sanders, Peers win mixed doubles title
John Peers had fallen short 31 times in Grand Slam mixed doubles tournaments before finding the perfect partner — right in his own country.
Peers and fellow Australian Storm Sanders won the U.S. Open title Saturday by rallying for a 4-6, 6-4, 10-7 victory over Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens and France's Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Seeded fourth, they pulled out narrow victories in the previous two rounds, edging Canada's Leylah Fernandez and American Jack Sock in the quarter-finals, then taking a match tiebreaker against Caty McNally and William Blumberg of the United States in the semifinals.
Sanders and Peers raced to a 4-1 lead in this match tiebreaker, then recovered after Flipkens and Roger-Vasselin grabbed the lead at 6-5.
Peers fired an ace on match point.
Serving for the mixed doubles title, John Peers ACES it! 🔥🏆<a href="https://twitter.com/Heineken_US?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Heineken_US</a> Serve of the Day | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USOpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USOpen</a> <a href="https://t.co/8KZB5JeMqP">pic.twitter.com/8KZB5JeMqP</a>—@usopen
Sanders and Peers became the first Australian team to win the U.S. Open mixed doubles title since Rennae Stubbs and Todd Woodbridge in 2001. They earned $163,000 US.
Roger-Vasselin was playing in his first major mixed doubles final in his 25th attempt, including second with Flipkens.
Peers teamed with former women's No. 1 Ash Barty last year in the Olympics, where the Australians won a bronze medal.
With files from The Canadian Press