It was a dream run for the 19-year-old Iga Swiatek. After a humbling experience last year at the hands of the ten defending champion Simona Halep, she handed down a similar beat-down to the champion having bounced through her early rounds without the loss of a set.
That form did not show any signs of leaving her, as she came to face the winner of the first Slam of a year like no other, Sofia Kenin – who won her first Slam in Australia.
She stormed out to a 3-0 lead, but Kenin was quick to peg back that enthusiasm and the first set was an intriguing tussle which saw breaks see-saw between them, with Swiatek coming out on top, securing the final break for the first set.
Despite breaking at the start of the second set, an off-court medical timeout saw Kenin lose touch with the pace Swiatek was setting as the Pole denied her another game for the set.
After the match, Swiatek said: “I’m just proud of myself. 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 [a] life-changing experience.
“I just feel like I kind of made history. But I still think that [Agnieska] Radwanska, she achieved a lot because she played on the top level of WTA for, I don’t know, 12 years?
‘I know there’s going to be a lot of people who is going to compare us. But I think I have to be really consistent for the next couple years to everybody to name me like the best player in Poland because still I have a lot to do. Still I think that’s kind of her place, you know.
We have seen how a maiden final can be hard, after the Marketa Vondrousova’s capitulation to a dominant Ashleigh Barty. Swiatek herself said that she was glad she had not been in that position the year before.
She said: “Everybody is stressed when they’re playing Grand Slam finals. I just knew that Sofia may also be stressed, that she’s not a machine. I was aware that we can both 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, you know, just play one ball after another. I didn’t really care if I’m going to lose or win. I think the main key was just keeping my expectations low.”
Swiatek has been honest about having worked with Daria Abramowicz, her sports psychologist, she has talked frankly about tennis being not just about the physical but also the mental side of the competition and that has been evident throughout the tournament.
“I think there is a huge role. I can see the difference when I’m mentally, like, prepared and I’m ready to handle the stress, the pressure. I can see the difference where I can’t. That’s why I’m sometimes losing in first round and sometimes I can win a tournament.
“Yeah, my next goal is going to be more consistent and use the skills I have, like, every time because it’s also tiring for your mind.”
As remarkable as the win is, she knows that the next step has to be consistency, and the pressure will be to back that up, not only as a new Slam champion but also as part of the wave of young
She continued: “I feel like I can do progress in most of the things because I’m only 19. I know my game isn’t developed perfectly. Also I think the biggest change for me is going to be to be consistent. I think this is what women’s tennis is struggling with. That’s why we have so many new Grand Slam winners because we are not as consistent as Rafa, Roger, and Novak.
That’s why my goal is going to be to be consistent. It’s going to be really hard to achieve that. Right now I’m just going to, you know, enjoy the moment. I’m going to think about my future goals later.”
The 2020 Roland Garros Men’s Final takes place on 11 October, not before 3pm (2pm BST).
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