Women's final preview: Swiatek v Kenin

 - Dan Imhoff

Australian Open champion Kenin meets first-time major finalist Swiatek for the Roland-Garros title

It is down to two as Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin squares off against Iga Swiatek, the teenager from Poland, appearing in her maiden Grand Slam final.

Kenin, the No.4 seed, looks to add a second major trophy in 2020 following her breakthrough triumph at Melbourne Park, while Swiatek bids to cap a barnstorming run, having passed the fourth round at a major for the first time.

Here’s a closer look at the women’s final showdown.   


This will be the pair’s first tour meeting, however Swiatek did beat Kenin as a 15-year-old in the third round of the 2016 junior tournament, 6-4, 7-5.

The 21-year-old Kenin is a relative veteran of finals compared to the Pole, two years her junior. The Moscow-born American is 5-1 in title matches, including that win over Garbine Muguruza in this year’s Australian Open final, while Swiatek is 0-1 from her lone prior final.

Where the match can be won

The American has the edge in experience, especially in closing out such a huge match on the big stage. While she was broken serving for the match against Petra Kvitova in the semi-finals, it only spurred her on to break again the following game and serve it out without a glitch.

Swiatek has not been tested yet and will carry the underdog status she did against top seed Simona Halep in the fourth round.

Kenin is a different kettle of fish though to Halep – substantially more firepower and flatter off both wings – so she will be intent on taking time away from the 19-year-old.

But she also possesses one of the most highly-strung temperaments on court. Expect the limited-capacity crowd to have the young Pole’s back and that could become a pivotal factor, should Kenin’s occasional petulance under the pump rare its head.

Both women love to be the aggressor and have been impressive on serve all tournament – Swiatek having held in 78 per cent of service games and Kenin 73 per cent.

The unseeded Pole, though, will back herself to make inroads on her opponent’s serve. In her six matches she has won an astonishing 70 per cent of return games (32 of 46), while Kenin has won 49 per cent. Swiatek, too, will look to finish points more at net – having won 77 per cent to Kenin’s 56 per cent.

Key statistics

The rank underdog Pole edges her more fancied opponent in most statistical categories coming into the final. She leads the tournament for highest percentage of second-serve points won with 63 per cent, compared to Kenin’s 46 per cent. She boasts the third-highest per cent of service games held and is well clear on return games won, 14 per cent higher than next best Su-Wei Hsieh’s 70 per cent.

Swiatek has not conceded a set and has dropped just 23 games, the fewest since Mary Pierce lost 10 games en route before falling in the 1994 final. The last woman to win the title in Paris without dropping a set was Justine Henin in 2007.

Kenin, meanwhile, has dropped a set in four of her six matches but her deciding sets in those battles read 6-3, 6-2, 6-1, 6-0. She is one tougher little nut to crack, having saved 69 per cent of break points (40/58) compared with Swiatek’s 63 per cent (15/24).

Kenin has spent 10 hours and 34 minutes on court in singles, plus a further six hours and 18 minutes just to reach the doubles quarter-finals with Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Swiatek, on the other hand, has spent seven hours doing battle in singles, and four hours, 33 minutes in doubles alongside Nicole Melichar, and counting. The pair are still alive in the women’s doubles semi-finals.

Both women are equally dangerous off both wings. Kenin has hit 194 winners, including 82 on the forehand and 99 on the backhand, while Swiatek has 150, including 60 each off both sides.

Sofia Kenin, Roland Garros 2020, semi-finals©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

What the players said

Kenin on facing Swiatek for the first time since juniors:

“Definitely I can say I was not as comfortable on clay as I am now, as I started to feel last year… Of course, we're both different players now... Of course, she's playing some great tennis, having great results. Petra also has not lost a set here. I mean, that obviously doesn't mean anything if I'm playing well. Like I said, she's playing really well. She got to the final. She's had some great wins. I'm sure she has a lot of confidence and is super excited for the final. I'm hoping that with my experience from Melbourne, it will help me for Saturday's final.” 

Swiatek on her first Grand Slam final:

“I'm going to be, like, an underdog, if you could say something about that, to the finalist. Yeah, it's going to be a tough match… I feel like I've been so efficient and so focused for whole matches that I put a lot of pressure on my opponents. I'm not even nervous in second sets because I know it's going to probably go my way. It's going to be different in a final because I'm going to play much more experienced players. I will need to be on a different level, the higher level, even though I'm winning easily right now… Usually I'm that kind of player who is playing better under pressure. If I'm not going to choke up, I think everything will be fine."