Iga Swiatek dismissed Ons Jabeur to win her third Grand Slam title and end any suggestion that the Pole is a clay-court specialist. There were points during this year’s US Open where the Pole looked less than comfortable, but she never really looked like a losing match. She started her campaign with comprehensive wins over Jasmine Paolini and former-champion Sloane Stephens, before getting the better of Lauren Davis to reach the second week.
She was tested in the fourth round by Jule Niemeier, dropping the first set against the German, but she rallied to win in three sets. Swiatek then battled past Jessica Pegula in the quarterfinals and Aryna Sabalenka in the last four, beating the former in straight set and the latter in three, to make her first final away from the clay.
Jabeur had been in fine form leading into the final, recapturing the level that took her to the Wimbledon final, but she simply could not live with Swiatek from the baseline. The world #1 was particularly effective in the cross-court backhand exchanges. That made for a one-sided first set, which Swiatek won for the loss of only two games.
It seemed as though the match would be over quickly when Swiatek broke again to start the second set, but Jabeur fought back. Unfortunately for the Tunisian, she was dragged back into a series of long rallies with Swiatek and found herself in a series of draining baseline battles she was never likely to win. Jabeur, however, has proved herself a fierce competitor, particularly on the biggest of stages and she gave another demonstration of her fighting qualities by breaking Swiatek again despite squandering two break points.
But she could not use that momentum to her advantage. She did hold serve under pressure to get back to 4-4 in the second set and had break points to take a 4-5* lead, but Swiatek held firm. The pair traded holds to take the second set to a tiebreak.
It proved to be a thriller, but Swiatek won it narrowly, 7-5, to win her first hard court Major. Although at times nerves seemed to get the better of the Pole, she was ultimately able to find her best tennis when it mattered most. For Jabeur, it was another encouraging tournament that ended in a disappointment.
Nonetheless, she has proved this season that she is one of the leading lights on the WTA Tour and time is very much on her side. So too is the unpredictably of the women’s game. If she can continue to perform at this level, it will surely only be a matter of time before she wins her first Major. But for now, the spotlight remains on Swiatek and deservedly so.
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