US Open - Day 13: Unstoppable Swiatek locks in her legacy

The world No.1 book-ended her major season with a third Grand Slam title as the first Polish woman to win the US Open.

Iga Swiatek / Titre US Open 2022 ©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Shortly after Iga Swiatek lifted the trophy, the Tennis Hall of Fame announced that the 21-year-old was “now an automatic inclusion on her first eligible ITHF ballot, five years after retirement.”

13 weeks plus ranked at world No.1, box ticked, three Grand Slams, that box is now ticked. Yes, the talk of retirement is ludicrously early, but Swiatek has already cemented her legacy.

3GA stats stand above the rest

It was a night of celebration for neutrals, the legendary Martina Navratilova handed out the champion’s trophy and tweeted; “Both great role models for aspiring girls and boys everywhere! Women’s tennis is in good hands!!!”

Martina knows what she’s talking about.

Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur will be officially the top two ranked WTA players on Monday and this fortnight, this final, demonstrated why.

Swiatek, interested in sums and mathematics, will have been beaming from the first set stats. Inside 30 minutes the Pole placed 90 percent of first serves in (missing just two the whole set,) managed to make 100 percent of returns (19 of 19) and struck 11 winners.

From 3-2 up, the top seed exemplified Polish perfection with six successive games for 6-2, 3-0. Jabeur, in back-to-back major finals after Wimbledon heartache, rallied and conjured up some blistering shots to threaten a classic comeback. Not quite, but on the evidence of the past two majors, Ons will have her day.

“I think that's the only match here where I started that well. I had that at the beginning of the season, during that streak. It kind of disappeared a little bit in the second part of the season. It gave me a lot of confidence, for sure,” reflected Swiatek following the 6-2, 7-6(5) finale.

“When I was lying after the last point, I was kind of relieved that we didn't go to a third set because physically, with that stress and everything, I know that I also played some more intense matches, but still final, it's a different feeling. So many emotions that you kind of have to lay down.”

Swiatek’s third Grand Slam was built on three victories over Jessica Pegula, Aryna Sabalenka and Jabeur, taking her winning run versus Top 10 opponents to 10 matches. The very best are struggling to halt this Hall of Fame talent.

Stretching back to Roland-Garros 2020, it’s a 10th consecutive final victory for Swiatek, where the 21-year-old has clinched all 20 sets. That’s Hall of Fame consistency.

Iga Swiatek / Finale US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

“Sky’s the limit” for soaring Swiatek

Sliding on the clay is where Swiatek feels at home, demonstrated in her two dominant triumphs at Roland-Garros in 2020 and 2022. By proving to herself hard courts are not an insurmountable challenge, the world No.1’s opportunities are endless.

“At the beginning of the season I realised that maybe I can have some good results on WTA events. I also made it to semi-final of Australian Open,” recalled the Pole.

“But I wasn't sure if I was on the level yet to win actually a Grand Slam, especially on US Open where the surface is so fast. It's something that I wasn't expecting for sure. It's also a confirmation for me that sky is the limit. I'm proud, also surprised little bit, just happy that I was able to do that." 

In contrast to ruthless displays at Roland-Garros, Swiatek had to dig very deep in New York. Arriving at the US Open with just two match wins from two hard court build ups in Toronto and Cincinnati, the top seed had to find answers to conditions, her shots slightly off radar.

The world No.1 was also forced to overhaul a set deficit to Jule Niemeier in the fourth round and to reel in Sabalenka from 0-2 and 2-4 down in the decider. Doubts had to be brushed aside, like most champions, Swiatek began to rely on his instincts and intuition.

“I feel like on court I can just do my job and I'm happy about it, that I kind of can make these doubts go away,” stated Swiatek.

“Sometimes it's also hard to do that for the whole season. So for sure in Toronto, Cincinnati I had a lot more doubts.

“I'm mostly proud of the fact that mentally I'm not kind of breaking up in those important moments. I'm proud that I have much more solutions and options on court than I had before tennis-wise, but also mentally. I'm using these skills pretty well. Right now it's been a long time since I didn't have any idea. So that's great. It shows that I'm actually doing progress.”

Staying grounded the key

On top of Swiatek’s 37-match, six title, winning streak earlier this season, the Pole has lifted her seventh trophy of the campaign. The last woman to yield that level of silverware in a single season was Serena Williams in 2014.

Are we set for a Serena-style dominance? 

“I still have to realise that it's tough out there, so I want to stay on the ground,” added the three-time major champion. 

“I feel like I can adjust to anything… For the future, I know I still have a lot to improve on court. That's something that I'm excited for because maybe it's just going to get easier to play these matches.”

Iga Swiatek & Ons Jabeur / Finale US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT