‘Poland Garros’: 19-year-old Nadal fan Swiatek powers to landmark French Open triumph

AFP

PARIS: Polish teenager Iga Swiatek gained her nation’s first Grand Slam singles title on Saturday as she defeated American fourth seed Sofia Kenin 6-Four, 6-1 to grow to be the youngest ladies’s French Open champion since 1992. 

The 19-year-old Swiatek, at 54 the lowest-ranked girl to seize the Roland Garros title within the fashionable period, is the ninth first-time main champion up to now 14 Grand Slams.

“It had to be like that that another underdog won a Grand Slam in women’s tennis. It is so often right now that it is crazy,” stated Swiatek, who captured her first tour title within the course of.

“I do not know what is going on on. It’s overwhelming for me, it is loopy.

“Two years in the past I gained a junior Grand Slam (at Wimbledon) and now I am right here. It looks like such a short while.”

Swiatek is the youngest ladies’s French Open winner since Monica Seles lifted the trophy as an 18-year-old in 1992. She is the primary teenage champion since Iva Majoli in 1997. 

“It’s loopy for me as a result of I watched Rafael Nadal raise the trophy yearly and now I am in the identical place,” she stated.

Swiatek additionally grew to become simply the second unseeded ladies’s Roland Garros champion within the Open period, becoming a member of Jelena Ostapenko who claimed a shock title three years in the past.  

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She eclipsed the run of compatriot Jadwiga Jedrzejowska — essentially the most excellent Polish participant of the interwar interval — who completed runner-up at Roland Garros in 1939. 

Swiatek was solely the second Polish girl to achieve a Grand Slam last within the Open period after Agnieszka Radwanska at Wimbledon in 2012. She had by no means beforehand been past the final 16.

Australian Open champion Kenin, 21, was making an attempt to grow to be the primary girl to seize two Slams in the identical yr since Angelique Kerber in 2016.

“I simply need to congratulate Iga on an incredible event and an incredible match. You performed very well,” stated Kenin.

Swiatek rises to the problem

Swiatek, whose solely earlier tour-level last got here at Lugano final yr, dispelled any preliminary worry of nerves as she gained 12 of the primary 15 factors to surge Three-Zero forward.

However, Kenin has made a behavior of combating via powerful conditions in Paris and broke again when Swiatek served an premature double fault permitting the American to degree at Three-all.

Swiatek, who bludgeoned her method into the championship match, conceding simply 23 video games in six rounds, secured a valuable maintain earlier than Kenin misplaced her serve for the second time.

Serving for the primary set at 5-Three, Swiatek dumped a tame backhand into the web on set level and Kenin instantly broke again, ripping a blistering backhand return.   

Kenin’s resilience has been a staple of her success however she cracked once more to current Swiatek with two extra set factors at Four-5, promptly dragging a backhand broad at hand the Pole the opening set.

The sixth-ranked Kenin, making an attempt to grow to be the primary girl to win two Slams in the identical season since Angelique Kerber in 2016, broke to start the second set.

But an undeterred Swiatek responded the next recreation, smacking a backhand down the road to interrupt as soon as extra earlier than holding with ease to go 2-1 up.

Kenin subsequently known as for a medical timeout to obtain off-court therapy on her taped left thigh, however she couldn’t gradual the momentum of her opponent as Swiatek broke for a fifth time.

Swiatek gained the following eight factors to storm to the cusp of the title at 5-1, securing a historic triumph with a strong cross-court forehand on her first match level.

“I used to be simply mentally constant. I simply wished to play aggressive as in earlier rounds. It was actually annoying for me so form of laborious,” stated Swiatek, who will rise to 17th on Monday.

“I do not know what made the distinction. I gained the match level and that’s essential sufficient.”

Five fascinating details

Girl from nowhere — Until Saturday’s triumph, Swiatek’s solely Tour-level last was in Lugano final yr the place she misplaced to 6-Three, Three-6, 6-Three to the skilled Polona Hercog. Before Saturday, her greatest titles had been on the second-tier ITF tour in Budapest and Montreux in 2018.

However, she had tasted earlier success at Roland Garros — profitable the women’ doubles title with Caty McNally in 2018.

Paradise metropolis — Unlike most youngsters, Swiatek has a passion for traditional rock from Guns N’Roses to Pink Floyd to AC/DC.

“I’m nonetheless listening to Guns N’Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle as a result of I need to maintain my routines,” she stated earlier within the event.

“Actually I wished to vary it as a result of proper now it is form of boring to pay attention day by day to the identical track. But yeah, I stayed with Guns N’Roses as a result of I wished to win.”

As the ultimate approached, she switched to Pink Floyd.

“I like Learning to Fly, Comfortably Numb, and lately I have been listening to Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” she advised WTA Insider.

“If I need one thing extra aggressive, AC/DC will get me within the temper. I have been listening to Thunderstruck earlier than matches.”

School’s out — The 19-year-old arrived on the French Open puzzling over whether or not her future was on a tennis court docket or inside a college lecture corridor.

“Right now it should be laborious to decide to return to finding out as a result of I really feel like actually I can obtain huge issues. I simply need to deal with that.

“But I’m only 19, so a lot can change during a few years. We are going to see. Maybe I’m going to be, like, hungry for knowledge. Really I’m not going to make a decision right now.”

After Saturday and together with her financial institution steadiness boosted by $1.9 million, her future route seems to be clear.

Nadal fan — Swiatek is a diehard fan of Rafael Nadal who contests the boys’s last on Sunday on the lookout for a 13th Roland Garros title.

“He was the only player I watched when I was younger. I just wish him the best and I hope he’s going to get another French Open this year,” she stated.

On Saturday, NBC requested her: “Are you going to be in the stands watching tomorrow?” 

“We’ll see if I get the tickets!” stated the Pole.

Sport in her DNA — Swiatek’s father Tomasz is a former Olympic rower who competed within the males’s quadruple sculls occasion on the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

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