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Iga Swiatek Soars to Maiden Major in Powerful French Open Triumph

Iga Swiatek made history as the first Polish player to capture a Grand Slam singles title.

By Witherspoon

Meditating with eyes shut on changeovers, Iga Swiatek realized dream dominance with an eye-popping performance in Paris.

The 19-year-old Swiatek stormed through six straight games sweeping Sofia Kenin 6-4, 6-1 in the French Open final to make history as the first Polish player—male or female—to win a Grand Slam singles championship.

The 54th-ranked Swiatek’s first career title marks a monumental moment: she is the youngest women’s winner since an 18-year-old Monica Seles ruled Paris 28 years ago.

“I’m just proud of myself,” Swiatek said. “I’ve done a great job past two weeks. I wasn’t expecting to win this trophy. It’s obviously amazing for me. It’s, like, life-changing experience.

“Yeah, I just feel like I kind of made history.”

Contesting just her seventh career Grand Slam, Swiatek demolished the draw knocking off three seeds, including top-seeded Simona Halep, collecting the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen without surrendering a set to become the first woman since Justine Henin in 2007 to win Roland Garros without losing a set.

This was declarative and dynamic tennis from Swiatek. The only time the teen queen showed any sign of hesitation was when she tried to find the right words to articulate her deep elation of her first pro title.

“I don’t know what’s going on; I’m so happy,” Swiatek told Marion Bartoli afterward. “I’m so glad my family was here finally. It’s just overwhelming for me—it’s crazy.

“Two years ago, I won a junior Grand Slam. It feels like such a short time I’m just overwhelmed.”

Iga Swiatek screams with joy after winning her first career pro title at Roland Garros.

Australian Open champion Kenin was aiming to win her second Slam title of the season and rise to world No. 3, but the feisty American was overpowered by an opponent delivering decisive answers from all areas of the court. Kenin, who left the court for treatment of her left leg after the third game of the second set, has shrewd court sense and anticipates well, but looked disarmed by Swiatek’s pace and placement throughout much of the match. 

“I feel like she served really well,” Kenin said. “She dictated really well with her forehand. Especially in the first set, a few shots here and there just didn’t go my way.

“She played some great tennis. She’s got the really good forehand, the spinny forehand up the line. Really good backhand down the line. I feel like sometimes just a few things didn’t go my way in the first set.”

Afterward, Kenin said her left leg issue limited her mobility.

“Today obviously after the first set I just felt it was so tight, I couldn’t move,” Kenin said. “That’s why I had to call the trainer. It just got worse. Yeah, it’s quite unfortunate it had to happen in this match. Like I said, she played really well. All credit to her.”

Winning a Grand Slam is hard, but Swiatek made it look easy streaking through the finish line today. Playing with pristine power, Swiatek slashed 25 winners—15 more than her opponent—converted six of nine break-point chances and surged through 16 of the last 19 points to finish with a flourish.

The 54th-ranked Swiatek travels with a sport psychologist and showed no trace of nerves or fear of this major moment at the outset and shrugging off possible mind games in the second set.

Exuding easy power, the teenager asserted attack immediately firing a forehand winner for a love hold. There are several gears to Swiatek’s game and she showed all-court skills surging into the frontcourt to break in Kenin’s opening service game. Swiatek won eight of the first nine points played on her serve snatching a 3-0 lead.

Swiatek soared to historic heights minimizing major expectations.

“Everybody is stressed when they’re playing Grand Slam finals,” Swiatek said. “I just knew that Sofia may also be stressed, that she’s not a machine. I was aware that we can both, like, struggle, and we’re probably not going to play our best tennis because it’s hard with so much pressure.

“But I just did everything I’ve done in the previous rounds. I focused on technique and tactics. I tried to get rid of expectations just play one ball after another. I didn’t really care if I’m going to lose or win… So really, I think the main key was just keeping my expectations low.”

Sofia Kenin dropped serve six times in the French Open final.

Digging in, Kenin denied a pair of break points—pounding a forehand crosscourt to cap a crackling rally—in the eighth game. The American occasionally mixed in high topspin to try to disrupt Swiatek’s rhythm, but the Pole set her feet and torched a forehand down the line for a third break point. This time, there was no escape. Kenin netted a backhand as Swiatek snatched her second break and a 5-3 lead.

The jolting topspin Swiatek generates on her forehand—and her ability to drive it down the line or curl it crosscourt—helped her earn a set point. Swiatek showed signs of nerve serving for a one-set lead and Kenin pounced. As her grunt turned to growl, Kenin saved the set point then blasted a backhand return that knocked the racquet out of a stretching Swiatek’s hand. That spirited stand earned Kenin the break back.

Shrugging it off, Swiatek flicked a lob to push Kenin back then coaxed the error earning her third break to take her 13th straight set of the tournament. Swiatek’s power and explosiveness saw her more than double her opponent’s winner output—13 to 6—in the 49-minute opener. Swiatek gave Kenin fits with her high hopping topspin forehand. 

“The spinny forehand, it obviously doesn’t look like it’s so difficult, but it has so much spin, it bounces up. It’s obviously going to my backhand,” Kenin said. “I missed a few backhands cross when I had the chances. It’s not an easy shot. She has a really good backhand down the line. She went a few times behind me.

“Dropshot was also well for her. She served big on some points. Yeah, I mean, she fought really well. She’s had a great run, great tournament.”

The fourth seed took a bathroom break and initially returned refreshed rapping a return winner down the line to start the second set with a break. That was really Kenin’s last stand.

Dancing into the doubles alley, Swiatek shrewdly showed misdirection deception holding her shot before spinning a clean backhand winner down the line to break back.

Swiatek was smacking her first serve nearly 10 mph faster than Kenin and backed it up with bold strikes holding for 2-1.

A frustrated Kenin, who had been playing with taping on her left leg, left the court for a medical timeout—her second departure from Court Chatrier in three games.

Meanwhile, Swiatek hit practice serves waiting for her opponent to return. Kenin came back with her upper left thigh fully wrapped while Swiatek shrugged off the delay and continued to unravel the American’s defense.

On this day there was no stalling Swiatek’s charge to history.

Hall of Famer Mary Pierce presented trophies to Iga Swiatek and Sofia Kenin.

Swiatek snapped a snazzy drive right into the corner breaking for 5-1.

Serving for Poland’s first Grand Slam singles crown, Swiatek slashed a serve winner down the middle for championship point. Swiatek buried a forehand into the corner, covered her mouth with her hand then climbed the steps into the stands to celebrate with her coach and family.

The teenager who embraced this major moment ended it with arms wrapped around the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen hugging the shiny silver trophy as if it were an old friend.

Swiatek joins Garbine Muguruza, Jelena Ostapenko, Simona Halep and world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty as the fifth woman in as many years to win her maiden major in Paris.