Paris: Iga Swiatek, an unseeded teenager from Poland, won her first tour title at the French Open on Saturday with a 6-4, 6-1 defeat of Sofia Kenin, the reigning Australian Open champion and No. 4 seed at Roland Garros.
Swiatek, 19, the youngest woman to reach the French Open final since 18-year-old Kim Clijsters in 2001, became the first man or woman from Poland to win a Grand Slam singles title. She entered the tournament with a No. 54 world ranking, a recently acquired high school diploma and a vague plan to test her game on the WTA Tour.
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During her coronation at Roland Garros, Swiatek did not drop a set, befuddling the likes of the women’s world No. 1 and former champion Simona Halep, whom she dispatched in the round of 16 with her powerful forehand and angled groundstrokes. She lost only 28 games the entire tournament and no more than five games in any match.
In the final, Swiatek took Kenin’s intensity and raised her a level, pounding 25 winners against 17 unforced errors. She wasn’t completely impervious to nerves, squandering one set point while serving 5-3 in the first with a netted backhand on her way to being broken. But she broke Kenin back to secure the first set in 48 minutes.
Kenin, 21, had played all week with her left leg taped — with the tape, like the shadows from the low-hanging autumn sun, creeping across more of her upper leg as the tournament went on. With Swiatek leading by 2-1 and on serve in the second set, Kenin requested a medical timeout and left the court.
Kenin returned to the court with her leg heavily wrapped, and Swiatek, sensing her opening, reeled off the final four games in rapid-fire fashion to close out the second set in 31 minutes.
Swiatek didn’t exactly come from nowhere: in 2018, she won the Wimbledon junior singles title and the French Open junior doubles title. But her rise here left even her head spinning.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” she said during an on-court interview. Laughing, she continued, “I’m so happy.”