HomeSportIga Swiatek, U.S. Open Winner, Is Ready for Global Stardom

Iga Swiatek, U.S. Open Winner, Is Ready for Global Stardom

Upon arrival in New York for this yr’s U.S. Open, I used to be delighted to return to a metropolis that’s on its manner again, as ever, after exhausting occasions. However I used to be stunned to maintain listening to questions on girls’s tennis’s lack of a dominant participant.

The farewell tour of Serena Williams, the best girls’s champion of this period, defined the curiosity in who may fill the void, however in the event you’ve been following the ladies’s sport this yr, there was loads of dominance on show.

Doha. Indian Wells. Miami. Stuttgart. Rome. Paris.

Iga Swiatek has gained titles in all these cities this yr, and it needs to be no shock to anybody, not even an emotional Swiatek, that she added New York to the lengthy record on Saturday afternoon.

Her 6-2, 7-6 (5) victory over Ons Jabeur in Saturday’s U.S. Open girls’s ultimate was a reminder of what makes Swiatek such a pressure:

Phenomenal, elastic, sliding protection into the corners, typically out of the near-splits popularized by Kim Clijsters and Novak Djokovic.

Sprinter’s velocity shifting ahead. (She chased down Jabeur’s signature drop photographs on Saturday like a cheetah chasing down a wounded impala.)

Heavyweight punching energy and penetration off the bottom, above all of the topspin forehand like Swiatek’s position mannequin Rafael Nadal.

Large-match psychological energy, which has allowed her to seek out and keep her focus beneath duress with the assistance of her longtime efficiency psychologist and good friend, Daria Abramowicz. She is now 10-1 in tour-level singles finals.

That package deal of abilities, each innate and bought, has created a real champion, and what needs to be genuinely scary to the opposition is that she will nonetheless enhance her serve, transition sport and volleys by large margins.

At simply 21 years previous, Swiatek is a bona fide No. 1 with an enormous lead within the rankings over Jabeur, the participating and gifted Tunisian who shall be again at No. 2 on Monday.

Swiatek could have 10,365 factors to Jabeur’s 5,090: the form of clear separation that nice gamers like Williams or Steffi Graf have created up to now.

“That was my aim, to get to 10,000 factors,” stated Tomasz Wiktorowski, Swiatek’s coach who joined her crew in December and has been one of many architects of her nice season.

After successful the French Open abruptly in 2020 after which solidifying her spot within the high 10, Swiatek has taken flight in earnest in 2022, reeling off 37 straight victories earlier this season, typically by lopsided Grafian margins, and successful a second French Open and — after a brief downturn in July and August — her first U.S. Open.

With three majors, she is now closing in on Naomi Osaka, the Japanese star and former No. 1 who has gained two U.S. Opens and two Australian Opens, as probably the most completed main champion of their technology.

However Swiatak, who’s three years youthful than the 24-year-old Osaka, already has one important efficiency edge. Whereas Osaka has by no means gained a tour-level title on clay or grass, Swiatek is a multisurface menace. Of her seven titles this season, 4 have come on hardcourts like these used on the U.S. Open and three have come on the pink clay. And although Swiatek has but to get previous the fourth spherical on the grass at Wimbledon, she did win the junior title there in 2018 and has the device set and improvisational athleticism to win the primary occasion there down the street.

In her solely match with Osaka this season (and up to now three years), Swiatek rumbled previous her, 6-4, 6-0, on Osaka’s finest floor within the Miami Open ultimate.

Osaka has performed little since then and struggled with accidents and her timing when she did play. She is ranked No. 44, and but she stays by far probably the most globally outstanding younger girls’s tennis star: the highest-earning feminine athlete, able to launching her personal administration firm along with her agent Stuart Duguid and signing up different gamers similar to Nick Kyrgios.

Her excessive profile relies on achievement to make sure but in addition on geography, representing a serious market like Japan whereas primarily based in one other main market, the US. She additionally has been daring and outspoken on social-justice points and her personal mental-health challenges, positioning herself as one of many voices of an engaged technology.

It is going to be intriguing to see if Swiatek, already a famous person in her residence nation of Poland, can get away globally, as effectively. She is sensible and empathetic, and although she stated in an interview in Could in Paris that she was nonetheless making an attempt to kind by one of the best ways to make use of her new platform, she has demonstrated a brand new willingness and confidence to talk out since then. She organized an exhibition to boost reduction funds for younger Ukrainians in July in Poland and is the one main participant not from Ukraine to nonetheless put on a blue and yellow ribbon on courtroom to mark her assist for Ukraine within the struggle with Russia.

However it’s her tennis that has spoken probably the most loudly and eloquently in 2022. There isn’t a doubt that she discovered her stride in a void: rising to the highest after the shock exit of Ashleigh Barty, the Australian star who was a firmly entrenched No. 1 when she introduced that she was retiring from the sport in March at age 25.

It was a giant blow to the ladies’s sport, and Swiatek has expressed remorse that she’s going to now not have the prospect to check her energy tennis towards Barty’s extra different abilities. Jabeur has Bartyesque versatility however lacks the Australian’s formidable serve and can’t generate fairly the identical depraved side-spin along with her sliced backspin.

Even throughout Williams’s quarter century at or close to the highest, the ladies’s sport typically lacked a transcendent rivalry. There was nothing fairly like Graf vs. Monica Seles; actually nothing like Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova, who was in sold-out Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday to current the ladies’s trophy to Swiatek.

Swiatek vs. Osaka, or Swiatek vs. Jabeur or Swiatek vs. Coco Gauff all sound like high quality concepts for the longer term. Regardless of rumors on the contrary, girls’s tennis does certainly have a dominant participant, one with a long-term plan to remain there. Now it wants different girls to stand up persistently to problem her.



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