Iga Swiatek holds off Ons Jabeur to win first U.S. Open title

Iga Swiatek of Poland affirmed her ranking as the No. 1 women’s tennis player in the world, fighting off a spirited late push from No. 5 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia to win her first U.S. Open title and third Grand Slam singles championship with a 6-2, 7-6 (5) victory Saturday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Swiatek, 21, was relentless on her returns in the early going, keeping everything in play and hitting the ball deep enough to limit Jabeur’s chances to unleash her trademark creativity. Jabeur, the first African woman to reach the U.S. Open final in the Open Era — which started in 1968 — was clearly frustrated by Swiatek’s superb court coverage and ability to dictate the pace in the first set.

Throughout the tournament, Swiatek had said she was improving but hadn’t hit her peak. She got there Saturday, breaking Jabeur’s serve on her first and third chances in the opening set and again in the eighth game to wrap up the set in 30 minutes.

Jabeur became frustrated when she couldn’t get anything in her arsenal to work, throwing her racket in the second game of the second set when she tried a drop shot that fell short. Swiatek won the game for a 2-0 lead. However, Jabeur found her footing to pull even at 4-4, swinging more freely. With a great effort, she saved a championship point and leveled the set at 6-6.

Jabeur built a 5-4 lead in the tiebreak, with the crowd cheering her on, but Swiatek hit a forehand winner and benefitted when Jabeur hit two errant forehands. When it ended, Swiatek dropped to her back on the court in disbelief, but she had earned her triumph by not folding when the pressure on her was most intense.

Swiatek, a two-time winner at the French Open, will earn $2.6 million for her triumphant run at Flushing Meadows. Jabeur, who also lost the Wimbledon final this year, will receive $1.3 million. They will rank 1-2 when new rankings are issued Monday.

Iga Swiatek reacts immediately after defeating Ons Jabeur for the U.S. Open title on Saturday.

Iga Swiatek reacts immediately after defeating Ons Jabeur for the U.S. Open title on Saturday.

(Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

Swiatek inarguably is a big match player: She has reached 10 finals in her career and has won each in straight sets.

The U.S. Open will end Sunday, with Carlos Alcaraz of Spain facing Casper Ruud of Norway for the men’s title and the No. 1 world ranking.

Neither has won a Grand Slam singles title before. Only Ruud has played in a Slam final, losing to Rafael Nadal in straight sets at this year’s French Open. The quick, acrobatic Alcaraz, 19, has played three straight five-set matches at Flushing Meadows (against Marin Cilic, Jannik Sinner, and in Friday’s semifinals against American Frances Tiafoe) but somehow hasn’t looked tired. “I feel great,” he said after his late-night win over Tiafoe. “Right now I’m just so, so happy. I thought about a young man like 10 years ago dreaming for this moment right now.”

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