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Iga Swiatek Wins French Open, Becomes Poland’s First Singles Grand Slam Champion

Iga Swiatek with the French Open trophy

Iga Swiatek enjoyed a moment to savour in Paris, storming past an injured Sofia Kenin 6-4 6-1 to win the French Open and become the first Pole to win a Grand Slam title in singles. Despite having arrived at the tournament in indifferent form, Swiatek was superb throughout the fortnight in Paris, recording a number of statement wins on her march to the title. Her efforts will be rewarded with 2000 ranking points, which will take her to inside the top 20, and €1.9 million in prize money.

She opened her campaign with a comfortable 6-1 6-2 win over 2019 finalist Marketa Vondrousova and that set the tone. In the second round, Swiatek brushed aside Hsieh Su-wei, dropping just five games in a 6-4 6-1 win, and she backed that up by thrashing the resurgent Eugenie Bouchard 6-2 6-3 to return to the fourth round for the second year in succession. There she faced what looked like a daunting task up against 2018 champion and pre-tournament favourite Simona Halep.

After all, the Romanian had beaten her at the same stage a year earlier in Paris, losing just one game in the process. But in 2020, it was Swiatek who enjoyed a day to remember. She swept past Halep, winning 6-1 6-2, to claim the biggest win of her career and snap the top seed’s 17-match winning streak, which dated back to February. That victory saw Swiatek into her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, with only the qualifier Martina Trevisan standing between her and a place in the last four.

Trevisan did not block the way for long, with Swiatek picking up another dominant victory to end the Italian’s run. She was as comfortable in the semifinals up against Nadia Podoroska, who had also qualified into the main draw, as Swiatek beat the Argentine 6-2 6-1 to become only the second Polish player after Agnieszka Radwanska to reach the final at a Grand Slam. Waiting for her there was reigning Australian Open champion Kenin.

A great final had looked to be on the cards and, for the majority of the first set, the match delivered on its promise. Swiatek made a great start, winning the first three games, but Kenin impressed in dragging her back to parity. Kenin then had chances to break the Swiatek serve and take what would surely have been a decisive advantage in the first set. But a combination of inspired shot making from Swiatek and some loose errors from Kenin saw the 19-year-old come through that game unscathed.

And that proved to be the difference. When Swiatek’s chance came in the next game, she took it, breaking for a 5-3 lead. Although she failed to serve out the set, with Kenin staging a brief rally, Swiatek pressed home her advantage with Kenin serving to stay in the set, taking her second set point thanks to a superb forehand lob. By this point, Kenin’s movement was beginning to look laboured, with the thigh problem that had bothered her throughout the tournament clearly affecting her.

The American did get off to the perfect start in the second, breaking Swiatek’s serve with an excellent forehand return winner down the line. But that was as good as it got for Kenin. Swiatek broke straight back and, when she held serve for a 2-1 lead, it appeared that the match was fast escaping Kenin’s grip. She took a medical timeout off court to have fresh taping applied to her left leg, but she was limping by the time she returned to court and offered little further resistance.

Swiatek, however, deserves great credit for the composure she showed in sealing her victory. She did not appear at all distracted by Kenin’s obvious struggles at the other end of the court, instead sticking to her game plan and outmanoeuvring the American. Sealing her win with a cross-court forehand winner into open space that Kenin could plainly no longer defend, Swiatek wrote herself into the history books, in Paris and Poland alike. The only question now is: just how many Slams could she go on to win?

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images


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