World No. 1 Iga Swiatek didn’t appear in a prime-time match on the tournament’s premiere court this two weeks until she faced an American in the semifinals. But she made herself at home there in Sunday’s final and did a quiet breakup as Arthur Ashe Stadium saw for quite some time.
Tunisian Swiatek defeated Ons Jabeur 6-2 7-6 (7-5) with her exemplary efficiency to win her second Grand Slam title of the year, her third in her career and her first on a hard court.
She is the first Polish woman to win the US Open. When asked next at the court ceremony what that might mean, Swiatek looked at the scattering of Polish flags in the crowd before laughing and replying that she didn’t quite know—she had to go home and check first. She only needed to get out after the match to see a crowd of red and white Polish fans cheering and cheering for her in the middle of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The answer finally came to her as she stood next to Jaber, the Tunisian blazer who this summer became the first Arab and first African woman to compete in a Grand Slam final when she played for the title at Wimbledon.
“Especially right now when we have to stay united, I’m happy that I can unite people with my sport,” Swiatek said. “I know I’m basically repeating what Ons said – you’re an inspiration too – but we try to do our best, and be good people and good examples.”
“I hope to inspire more and more generations,” Jaber said. “…this is just the beginning of many things.”
The Swiatek tennis soundtrack is devoid of screams or grunts, all sneakers squeaking and the rhythmic strikes of the ball against the strings. But don’t be fooled – her game says a lot.
Only 21 years old, Swiatek amassed one of the best winning streaks modern women’s tennis has ever seen when she won 37 straight games and six straight tournaments earlier this year, capping off her Coco Gauff victory second title in the French Open.
Her victory at Flushing Meadows indicates that women’s tennis has lacked its highest rankings since Williams won her last major title in 2017.
Swiatek was the first top seed to reach the US Open final since Williams won the event eight years ago. She was also the first woman to reach the French Open and US Open finals in the same year since Williams did so in 2013.
She and Jaber will be number one and two globally, respectively, when the new rankings come out on Monday.
Swiatek played to her highest rating throughout the tournament, skipping the first three rounds despite uncomfortable conditions. She prefers the slower surfaces of the clay court season in the spring and has had trouble controlling the type of balls she uses at the US Open but has fixed the problem on her way to the final. She struggled for wins twice after losing the first set, in the fourth and semi-finals.
“I’m proud to have more solutions and options on the court than I’ve ever had in terms of tennis, but, yes, mentally too,” said Swiatek. “I make good use of these skills.”
Her victory on a hard court represented a crucial expansion for her game if she wanted to dominate women’s tennis all year round.
“I wasn’t sure if I was at the level yet to actually win a Grand Slam, in particular [at the] “The US Open is where the surface is very fast,” Swiatek said.
“It’s something I definitely wasn’t expecting. It also serves as confirmation to me that the sky is the limit. I’m proud, surprised too, glad I was able to do it.”
Swiatek entered the match with a whopping nine wins in the 10 finals she’s had since 2019. Sunday’s first set finished in the blink of an eye, just 30 minutes in which Swiatek Jabeur ran around the field, light and sassy as a puppeteer.
Her technique is simply to put the ball into play and control with a powerful forehand rather than serve. Swiatek’s unparalleled court coverage and ability to fire a nimble shot regardless of her body position frustrated Jabeur from hitting her racket on the court in the fifth inning.
Jaber, who did well to reach the final, won just 20 percent of the points on her first serve.
She finally found a foothold by attacking Swiatek’s serve in the second set and was forced to break the tie but she was never able to turn the momentum around. Swiatek snatched the win on the second game point and fell onto the court, covering her face with her hands.
“Lots of feelings to lie down, you know?” She said. “I’m glad I didn’t start crying – too bad.”