Roland Garros Day 14: Swiatek stuns Kenin for first major title

  • Matt Trollope

Tennis has a new star with the arrival of Iga Swiatek, who completed a stunning fortnight in Paris with victory over Sofia Kenin in the Roland Garros final.

The teenager became the first player from Poland, man or woman, to win a Grand Slam singles title following her 6-4 6-1 upset of the reigning Australian Open champion.

Swiatek’s Roland Garros triumph marks her first tour-level title and, incredibly, was achieved without the loss of a set. 

On Saturday at Court Philippe Chatrier, the world No.54 produced an astonishingly assured performance.

“It’s just overwhelming for me. It’s crazy. Two years ago I won junior Grand Slam and right now I’m here – it feels like such a short time," the 19-year-old said.

“I think I was just mentally consistent and … I just wanted to play aggressive as in previous rounds. I felt like today was really stressful for me, so it was kind of hard. I don’t know actually what made the difference – I won a match point and that’s important. 

“I don’t know what’s going on. I’m so happy."

“It’s just overwhelming for me. It’s crazy."
Iga Swiatek

She showed few signs of nerves as she surged to a 3-0 lead, only for Kenin, the fourth seed and world No.6, to sink her teeth into some more rallies in the fourth game and get on the board at 1-3.

What unfolded was a compelling set that spanned 49 minutes, pitting Swiatek’s power and heavy topspin forehand against the more linear, counterpunching style of Kenin, built around her backhand.

Kenin levelled the set at 3-3 with a big “come on!”; two games later, Swiatek emerged on top in a high-quality, intense eighth game that lasted more than nine minutes, belting a forehand winner before breaking for a 5-3 lead.

Kenin answered with a service break of her own – saving a set point along the way – thanks to a ripping backhand return winner, but Swiatek broke again to take the opening set.

When Kenin broke immediately to lead 1-0 in the second set, few could have predicted it would be the last game she would win. 

But the set simply ran away from her.

She required an off-court medical timeout to treat an upper left leg injury when trailing 1-2, but two games later, down 1-4, Kenin summoned the trainer to remove a layer of strapping.

Swiatek, meanwhile, continued to thump her forehand and dominate rallies, dragging the American all over the court and feasting on defensive replies.

The moment Iga Swiatek sealed her victory over Sofia Kenin in the 2020 final at Roland Garros. (Getty Images)

The 19-year-old broke Kenin at love in the sixth game with a succession of acute angles and winners, and by this point she had won 15 of the last 16 points.

She arrived at her first championship point in the following game and would require only one, belting a cross-court forehand – her 25th winner of the match, to Kenin’s 10 – to seal victory in just one hour and 24 minutes.

She becomes the fifth consecutive first-time Grand Slam winner at Roland Garros, following Garbine Muguruza (2016), Jelena Ostapenko (2017), Simona Halep (2018) and Ash Barty (2019).

There were shades of Ostapenko about Swiatek’s run to the title; just a few years removed from their junior Wimbledon titles, the pair were almost identically aged and ranked before mowing down all opposition with their power to win their first ever titles.

“Maybe it just had to be like that, that another underdog is gonna win another Grand Slam in women’s tennis," Swiatek said. 

"It’s so often right now, that it’s crazy."

Swiatek will crack the top 20 with her victory; the Pole is projected to rise to world No.17.

Krawietz, Mies repeat in Paris

Defending men's doubles champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies followed Swiatek and Kenin onto Chatrier, and replicated their heroics from 2019.

The German duo overcame recent US Open champions Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares 6-3 7-5 to win their second major title as a partnership

The dropped only one set this fortnight in Paris – when they got past French wildcards Benjamin Bonzi and Antoine Hoang 6-4 1-6 7-6(5) in the third round – and have never lost at match at Roland Garros, having now won 12 in a row.

Alcott defends quad wheelchair title

Australian Dylan Alcott claimed his second major tile of season 2020 with a dominant victory over Britain’s Andy Lapthorne.

The world No.1, who also won the quad singles title at AO 2020, beat the second seed 6-2 6-2 in just 51 minutes to earn an 11th career major title.

The victory also helped him erase the disappointment of last month’s US Open final, where he was pipped 6-4 in the third set by Dutch wildcard Sam Schroder.

In other wheelchair results, Brit Alfie Hewitt defeated Belgian Joachim Gerard 6-4 4-6 6-3 to win the men’s singles title, while Dutchwomen Diede De Groot and Aniek Van Koot won the women’s doubles crown with a 7-6(2) 3-6 [10-8] triumph over No.2 seed Yui Kamiji and Jordanne Whiley.

Stricker, Jacquemot win junior tournaments

In an all-Swiss final, Dominic Stephan Stricker defeated Leandro Riedi 6-4 6-2 in just over one hour to earn his first Grand Slam junior singles title.

Having trained with countryman Roger Federer, Stricker emulated another major-winning Swiss, Stan Wawrinka, who won the junior title in Paris back in 2003.

The girls’ singles title was won by local Elsa Jacquemot, who fell behind against Alina Charaeva before recovering to triumph 4-6 6-4 6-2.

Day 15: Ones to watch

The final day of the 2020 Roland Garros event is highlighted by a blockbuster men’s singles final between world No.1 Novak Djokovic and world No.2 Rafael Nadal, the three-time defending champion.

Djokovic, gunning for an 18th major singles title and second in Paris, leads the overall head-to-head series 29-26 and has won 14 of the pair’s last 18 meetings – including the past three at Slams – but Nadal leads the series on clay (17-7), at Roland Garros (6-1) and in Grand Slam matches (9-6).

ORDER OF PLAY: Roland Garros Day 15

Nadal, a 12-time champion in Paris, won their only two Roland Garros finals (2012 and 2014) and could equal Roger Federer’s men’s record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles with victory over Djokovic on Sunday. 

The singles final will be preceded on Chatrier by the women’s doubles final between defending champions Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic and major final debutants Alexa Guarachi and Desirae Krawczyk.