COREY SIPKIN/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
World No. 1 Iga Swiatek will contest her first US Open final on Saturday after coming from behind to defeat Aryna Sabalenka 3-6 6-1 6-4.
Swiatek will face another first-time New York finalist in Ons Jabeur, who secured a more comfortable 6-1 6-3 victory in her semifinal against Caroline Garcia.
It perhaps seems fitting that Swiatek and Jabeur, two of the in-form players in women’s tennis this year, will face each other in the final grand slam of the year – Swiatek looking for a third major title and Jabeur her first having lost the Wimbledon final two months ago.
“I think it’s going to be a great battle,” Swiatek told reporters about the match-up.
To reach the final, the 21-year-old Polish star had to come through a tough match against sixth seed Sabalenka.
The Belarusian, playing under a neutral flag at the US Open following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, went a break up at the start of the first set and held on to take an early lead. COREY SIPKIN/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
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Swiatek immediately hit back in the second, breaking Sabalenka to love, then also winning her next two service games to love. Two more breaks followed later in the set as the top seed leveled the match.
In a tense deciding set, the pair traded breaks before Sabalenka seized the advantage to take a 4-2 lead. Swiatek wasn’t done, however, and took the next four games to wrap up the victory.
She ended the match with 24 winners to Sabalenka’s 22 and converted seven of her 10 break points – the last on match point when Sabalenka played a backhand into the net.
“For sure, I felt a huge difference between first set and last two,” Swiatek told reporters.
“I’m pretty happy that I got my level of energy up a little bit. Aryna made it difficult today, for sure. I felt like she was serving pretty solid. It was hard to come back in third, but I’m pretty happy that I did.”
Saturday’s match will be the first time a Polish woman has appeared in the US Open final, while Tunisia’s Jabeur is the first African woman to contest the tournament’s showpiece.