Teenage phenom Iga Swiatek has become the first Polish tennis player to win a grand slam singles title.
Swiatek dominated the French Open final in Paris, defeating American rival Sofia Kenin in straight sets, 6-4 6-1.
Despite sitting at No. 54 on the WTA rankings before the tournament, the 19-year-old managed the incredible feat of winning Roland Garros without dropping a set.
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“First of all, I’m not very good at speeches, and I won my last title, like, two years ago,” Swiatek said after the match.
“I don’t know what is going on. I am so happy. And I am so glad that my family was here, finally. I don’t know, it’s crazy.
“It feels like such a short time. So yeah, I’m just overwhelmed. Thank you all for cheering. It was an amazing final.”
Kenin was obviously upset, but praised her opponent for continuing her hot streak on the biggest stage.
“Obviously a little bit disappointed and upset. She obviously played a really good match. She’s really hot right now, playing some really great tennis,” Kenin said.
“I’m not going to use this as an excuse, but my leg obviously was not the best. It’s obviously disappointing.
“I wish I would have won, but I’m just happy that I got to where I am now.”
The duo had never faced each other in a professional match before, and Kenin was overwhelmed by the young gun’s raw power, Swiatek mustering several winners with her explosive forehand.
Relatively unknown to all but tennis diehards before the French Open, Swiatek became a fan favourite in Paris as she steamrolled her way into the final, then into the record books. It’s no surprise there was an outpouring of love from the tennis world as the teenager celebrated her career highlight.
Bulgarian Victoria Azarenka tweeted: “Great job Iga Swiatek. What a tournament!!! Champ.”
America’s Madison Keys passed on her congratulations while former star Gabriela Sabatini wrote: “Congratulations @iga_swiatek it’s great to see your joy on the court, great champion! Happy to see Poland’s first GS victory.”
Tour veteran Kim Clijsters added: “What an amazing effort! Loved watching you play and be fearless. Congrats on your first!”
Past players and commentators also weighed in. Tracy Austin tweeted: “Wow!!! @iga_swiatek is such an amazing athlete — so offensive — hits so heavy — complete game already. A joy to watch — makes it look so easy. More Majors ahead!!”
Chris Evert wrote: “Congratulations @iga_swiatek. What a sterling two weeks of brilliant tennis. Many, many more GS Titles to come.”
HOW SWIATEK ACHIEVED GRAND SLAM GLORY
With a handful of spectators watching on, Kenin and Swiatek made their way onto Court Philippe-Chatrier to polite applause.
The Polish teen started the contest by holding at love, and followed up by breaking serve and taking an early 2-0 lead.
Swiatek’s powerful backhand proved a valuable asset during the opening passages of the match, the 19-year-old rarely making an error on the clay.
After winning 12 of the first 15 points in the match, Swiatek held serve to go 3-0 after just eight minutes.
New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey tweeted: “Iga Swiatek playing her first Grand Slam final like she’s playing a practice match against a hitting partner.”
Kenin finally got on the board in her second service game, before breaking Swiatek’s serve in a dramatic shift in momentum.
With scores locked at 3-3 in the first set, the American had landed 78 per cent of her first serves in, while Swiatek had only managed 50 per cent.
The seventh game went to deuce twice, but Swiatek managed to hold serve with a few well-directed drop shots, despite another double fault creeping into her game.
But Swiatek then managed to break serve once again to secure a 5-3 advantage with her serve to come.
The 19-year-old botched a set point at 40-30, and Kenin kept herself in the contest by winning the next three points and bringing the set back on serve.
But Swiatek rallied to secure another two set points in the following game, and broke serve to ensure she was one set away from a maiden grand slam title.
Radio presenter Lexis Bill tweeted: “You’d have thought the French Open finals will be a walk in the park for Sofia Kenin but Swiatek is mean! What a game they’re serving us.”
Tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg posted: “This final is already much, MUCH better than last year’s French Open women’s final, which was an all-time dud.”
As she has done throughout the tournament, Kenin took a lengthy break after losing the opening set.
But when play resumed in Paris, both competitors played a dynamic brand of tennis, each delivering several powerful winners.
Kenin immediately broke serve to get her second set off to a flyer, but the relentless Swiatek managed to do the same from the other end, bringing the set back on serve.
The American became agitated as the match progressed, sporadically yelling, shaking her head and throwing her arms in the air.
Kenin was spotted kicking her racquet, and her father was also heard yelling at the Australian Open champion from the stands.
New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey tweeted: “Kenin’s go-to shot, her backhand, is breaking down more than usual today. Perhaps a combo of final pressure and heavy Swiatek groundstrokes but it’s got to change if Kenin is going to push this match into a third.”
After consulting a medic about her heavily-strapped thigh, Kenin briefly left the court at 2-1in the second set for a medical time out.
The three-minute break didn’t help Kenin, who conceded a 3-1 lead when Swiatek quickly broke serve.
Continuing that momentum, the Polish teen then held serve at love, and was suddenly just two games away from a maiden French Open title.
Swiatek then broke serve once again — the game only lasting about two minutes — and the result seemed inevitable.
A few minutes later, a forehand winner secured Swiatek’s maiden grand slam singles title.
After the final point, Kenin sat by herself in tears on the court as Swiatek celebrated the historic victory with her family.
“I just want to congratulate eager and a great tournament, a great match. You played really well. Congratulations to you and your team,” Kenin said after the match.
“I would like to thank the crowd. It is finally good to see you guys with his whole pandemic. So thank you so much for your support and supporting me these past weeks. It really means a lot.”
As Swiatek lifted the Suzanne-Lenglen Cup, the Polish national anthem blared around the stadium, the first time ever at a grand slam final.