Swiatek beats Jabeur for first US Open

Good as she’s been this year, Iga Swiatek came to the US Open unsure of what to expect.

She complained that women use different, slightly lighter, tennis balls than the men do at Flushing Meadows, where she’d never been past the fourth round. She was trying to grow accustomed to the noise and distractions, the hustle and bustle, of the Big Apple. And she arrived with a record of just 4-4 since her 37-match winning streak ended in July.

None of that matters now after the No.1-ranked Swiatek outplayed No.5 Ons Jabeur 6-2 7-6 (7-5) in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday to claim her first championship at the US Open and third grand slam title overall.

Swiatek’s lopsided victory improved her record in tour-level matches to 55-7 with seven trophies in 2022, both best in the WTA.

“For sure, this tournament was really challenging, also, because it’s New York. It’s so loud. It’s so crazy,” she said.

“I’m really proud that I could handle it mentally.”

“Ons, such an amazing tournament, such an amazing season … I know we’re going to have many more, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to win some of them, so don’t worry.”

The 21-year-old from Poland won the French Open for the second time in June and is the first woman since Angelique Kerber in 2016 to collect two major titles in a single season.

Jabeur, a 28-year-old from Tunisia, is the first African woman and first Arab woman to reach a grand slam final and was participating in her second in a row. But she is 0-2 at that stage, being the runner-up at Wimbledon in July.

“I don’t like her very much right now, but it’s OK,” Jabeur told a crowd that offered her plenty of support while smiling and looking at Swiatek.

“I really tried, but Iga didn’t make it easy for me. She deserved to win today.”

Swiatek has won her past 10 finals — all in straight sets — and was great from the get-go.

Jabeur did not face a single break point in her semi-final victory against Caroline Garcia, but she got broken right away.

Eight minutes in, Swiatek had grabbed 12 of the first 14 points for a 3-0 edge.

When Jabeur, who will rise to No.2 in the rankings on Monday, did show off some of what she can do, she made things interesting, briefly. But only briefly.

After losing the first set 6-2, she got to 4-all in the second and, after ending up on her back after an off-balance backhand won a point in the next game, she stayed there, enjoying the moment, pumping her fists while laying on the ground.

Jabeur earned three break chances in that game, any one of which would have allowed her to serve for the set. She could not cash in there, though.

Then, at 6-5, Swiatek held her first championship point as Jabeur served. Right before the point began, Swiatek jogged over to the sideline to change rackets — an unusual choice at that moment.

Swiatek then missed a backhand, and Jabeur pushed things to the tiebreaker and led it 5-4. But Swiatek took the last three points and soon was down on her back, a major champ again.

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