Iga Swiatek has twice stormed Paris and last night she took New York to add the US Open to her clay court Grand Slam titles.
By doing so she denied Ons Jabeur the history of becoming the first North African to win a Major, fighting off a revival from the Tunisian to win 6-2 7-6 in an hour and 51 minutes.
Swiatek has asserted some order at the top of the women’s game after playing a near perfect first set, even if she proved more fallible in the second.
By winning her tenth consecutive final without dropping a set she becomes the first woman to win Grand Slam titles in the same year since Angelique Kerber in 2016, adding Flushing Meadows to Roland Garros.
Iga Swiatek collapsed to the hardcourt below after winning her first-ever US Open on Saturday
Swiatek dispelled any doubt as to her capability on the US Open hardcourt in a career win
In a somewhat jumbled up top ten she is clearly the standout performer, although she was pushed hard by the powerful Tunisian. Twice she has come close to a watershed moment for women’s sport in her geographic region and both times, as at Wimbledon, she has fallen short.
Her last stand was a tiebreak that contained a catalogue of nervy errors. Jabeur took a first point lead before over pressing on groundstrokes to go 2-4 down. Swiatek responded with groundstroke errors of her own, but then regained control at 4-4 and clinched the victory when her opponent drove a forehand long at 6-5.
There was probably marginally less pre-match expectation as there had been on this corresponding day a year ago, when two teenagers so captured New York’s imagination.
Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez were the two protagonists, coming in as the world number 150 and 77 respectively, compared to the numbers one and two slugging it out last night.
The Pole has twice triumphed at the French Open, and is now a three-time slam champion
Predictably neither of the 2021 finalists have had an especially easy year since, and Fernandez had to be content with making the mixed doubles quarters this time around.
Meanwhile Raducanu is preparing to play in this week’s modest 250-level event in Portoroz, Slovenia, as she tries to fill in some of the missing links that remain. Her first round opponent will be Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska, a reminder that it is not just the British player who has done through some life changes in the past twelve months.
A contributory factor to the unexpected line-up last time round was the speed of the balls, which Swiatek – who continues to wear a Ukrainian ribbon when others have dropped them – was complaining about when the tournament started.
Since then she has looked able to control them better, and when she is hitting cleanly there is probably no-one who can strike it with quite as much penetration.
Ons Jabeur made history becoming the first Arab & Tunisian woman to reach the US Open final
Whether Jabeur could soak up the pace coming at her would be a major factor against a player who always seems to lift it for the championship match.
The Tunisian started brightly on the last weekend at Wimbledon, but for the first three games she looked somewhat flat against someone already the holder of two Slam titles.
Swiatek’s short backswing makes her direction difficult to pick and she drove her way to 3-0 before Jabeur got on the board. Her first hold of serve was followed up by a break achieved through a spectacular array of winners.
That was a major win as the Pole on a roll is hard to stop. However, Swiatek was simply not missing any returns and she immediately restored the advantage.
Jabeur was looking slightly alarmed when she lost serve again to forego the opener. Having had comfortable success on her serve in the semi-final against Caroline Garcia she had not managed a single unreturned delivery in the first, all nineteen of her serves having come back at her in some shape or form.
Moreover Swiatek was landing in nine out of ten first serves, compiling further statistics that would make it almost impossible to win against her.
Jabeur responded by trying to play more inside the court more and approach the net, but was broken in the second game of the second set when her volley was slapped away for a winner.
Swiatek dealt with a late onslaught from Jabeur who struggled with the Pole in the first set
The Tunisian, a relentlessly positive soul on and off the court, was left waving her arms in a gesture of helplessness, as well she might have done.
Finally, at the 32nd attempt, Jabeur sent down an unreturned serve and kept hope alive by saving three break points to get to 3-1. This fast became her best spell of the match, winning eleven points out of 13, with signs of exasperation starting to show on the other side of the net.
Swiatek broke again but her opponent was far from finished. She fed off an increasingly febrile crowd to get back level for 4-4 and then had a break point as the Pole looked increasingly edgy, finally getting a proper challenge in a final.
The Tunisian struggled to contain her emotions in the aftermath of her heartbreaking defeat
Scroll down to re-live all of the women’s singles final action between Swiatek and Jabeur.