2020 French Open, Final Highlights: Iga Swiatek wins her first Slam title for the loss of just 28 games!

Iga Swiatek became the first Polish player to win a Slam with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Sofia Kenin in Saturday’s French Open final. It was a performance befitting of Swiatek’s entire tournament run where she was sensational from start to finish.

As the pair walked out onto court, I thought Swiatek looked surprisingly calm. Sometimes you can just see the nerves etched on the face but I didn’t get that from Swiatek at all who had a steely look of determination. Swiatek started very well, as she has done in almost every match this tournament, winning the first three games. Kenin pegged Swiatek back to 3-3. The end of the first set was the most engaging passage of play in this final. Swiatek managed to tough out two deuce games at 3-3 and 4-3. While the Polish player was unable to serve it out, those two prior games felt ultimately pivotal as Swiatek broke Kenin to win the first set, 6-4.

Swiatek soaked up pressure from an increasingly aggressive, Kenin and landed some weighty forehand strikes of her own. Swiatek’s tactics were spot on and she always seems to find the right shot for the right moment. A key trait to the match was that Kenin looked vulnerable in the forecourt. The American had a couple of openings at the net and was unable to finish points off, even backtracking on one occasion. In contrast, Swiatek looked much more comfortable moving forward and she seemed to cotton onto Kenin’s unease moving forward as she executed some nifty drop shots. Kenin’s high first serve percentage was one of the reasons why she managed to beat Kvitova. Kenin crucially missed a string of first serves at *4-5 in what was a shaky game.

Early in the second set, Kenin had an off-court medical time-out for a thigh issue. It was clear on the resumption that Kenin was hindered by it and not moving well. It could have been a nervy situation for Swiatek, waiting on the sidelines and contemplating the situation that she was a set away from the title. This wasn’t the case at all and she even said on Eurosport that it helped her relax as she engaged with some of the Polish fans! Swiatek was so, so smart in managing to exploit Kenin’s weaknesses. Swiatek’s backhand down-the-line began to soar and she kept pulling Kenin out wide on her backhand. Swiatek raced through the second set, winning 16 of the last 19 points, to claim her maiden Slam title!

Analysis

There’s quite a few crazy stats with Swiatek’s win. It’s the second time in the last four years that an unseeded player has won the French Open with Swiatek following in the footsteps of Jelena Ostapenko who achieved that feat back in 2017. Mirroring Ostapenko’s triumph, this was also Swiatek’s first ever title on the professional tour! I’ve been going on about the number of lost games all week. Swiatek dropped just 28 games (!) in her seven matches and didn’t lose more than four games in any of the 14 sets that she played.

Swiatek was the best player from start to finish. She opened with a beatdown of last year’s finalist, Marketa Vondrousova in the first round and then turned the tables on Simona Halep in the fourth round with the performance of the tournament. If anything, i’m more impressed with how she’s handled everything post-Halep. Swiatek was the heavy favourite to win her quarter-final and semi-final matches against unheralded opponents which was a situation that she’s never faced before. Swiatek was unfazed and went out and executed her game so smartly. We’ve seen so many newbies of late come out with such fearless displays in the final and Swiatek was yet another example of this.

I love Swiatek’s game and she’s really got it all. During these past two weeks on the heavy clay, she has showcased her power and ability to generate pace off both wings. I think the forehand is the big weapon. There were a couple of matches, including the final, where the backhand down-the-line was magnificent. What makes Swiatek so exciting is that she’s not just a power player. She has wonderful touch and feel, and loves to come forward.

I didn’t expect this to happen so soon for Swiatek and there wasn’t really any warning of it as she lost her only match on the clay prior to the French Open to Arantxa Rus. Also add to that Kenin’s 0-6 0-6 loss in Rome to Victoria Azarenka – yeah, i’m going on about it again but it shows how not to read too much into pre-Slam results and how fortunes can change so quickly on the WTA! Kenin has been the most consistent performer at the Slams in 2020. I think we can put any negativity to bed of how she followed up her first Slam title.

Recency bias is swirling… i’m very excited to see Swiatek’s game continue to develop. She’s a star.

Recommended reading 📚

A fascinating read from WTA Insider about Swiatek’s sports psychologist, Daria Abramowicz.

Final thoughts 🤔

So that’s a wrap on the 2020 French Open for the women. I think it’s been a fun Slam with a bit of everything. It all kicked off with those miserably cold, damp and windy opening days that had a disgruntled Victoria Azarenka bemoaning that she’s used to the warmer climes of Florida 😂. I’ll never forget Errani-Bertens in what was one of the most unexpectedly dramatic matches in recent years. It will also be remembered for the stream of upsets. There were so many players at this tournament breaking new ground at a Slam and I enjoyed reading about their stories. To top it off, we got a new champ with the 19-year-old, Iga Swiatek who had previously never made it past the fourth round of a Slam!

Thanks for all your comments on the blog this week. It’s been lovely to see some familiar names and I’ve really enjoyed reading them all. My day job is much more demanding these days so i’m happy that I was able to maintain the blog through these two recent Slams. It’s been an enjoyable challenge!

As currently stands, there’s only two WTA events left on the calendar for 2020. There’s a tournament in Ostrava (Czech Republic) starting in a week’s time. It has also just been announced that the tournament in Linz (Austria) is going to be played next month. To be honest, i’m surprised that we got any live tennis post-Indian Wells. The WTA Finals will reportedly not be relocated to a new venue. The current top eight is Sofia Kenin, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka, Iga Swiatek, Petra Kvitova, Garbiñe Muguruza and Elise Mertens. What a shame because that’s a tantalising top eight!

Anyway, signing off for the 2020 French Open 🥐😘👋

Follow Moo’s Tennis Blog on Twitter and Facebook. Feature photo by Omar Boraby Photography.

10 thoughts on “2020 French Open, Final Highlights: Iga Swiatek wins her first Slam title for the loss of just 28 games!

  1. Yes, phenomenal tournament from Iga. Beating Vondrousova, Halep and Kenin the way she did was really extraordinary! I said a year ago that I saw her as a future Slam winner but I did NOT expect to see it so soon! Very intrigued to see how she copes with the pressure of expectation next year because it’s been such a tough adjustment for the others.

    And there’s really no shame for Kenin. Two Slam finals in one year is incredible – Sharapova only ever managed to do that one time, and others (Kvitova, Osaka, Muguruza) still haven’t achieved it. Hopefully she works on her transition game in the off season – her half volleys really let her down in the first set. That weakness is now going to be what every player looks to exploit.

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    • Equally intrigued to see how Swiatek deals with the attention as this must be a huge deal in Poland being the first Slam champ! Agreed on Kenin. Never would have imagined Kenin to make the final at the start of the tournament. Even last 16 showing at the US Open was respectable. She’s doing just fine.

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      • I’ve been surprised with Kenin losing first round at a couple of events this year. I was expecting her to be a player who consistently made it to the last 4/8 of events but wasn’t necessarily going to win the big titles – I’ve got it totally the wrong way round!

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    • I’m thinking more about the general tour and the grind that comes with it. Considering the fact that she really is still growing, how will it affect her general psyche, physique and well being going forward. She has played excellently, the kind of baseline tennis I really savour, but there is still an oddity about this year’s tournament given the current circumstances. I’m particularly interested in other surfaces like grass. Anyway, still a welcome addition to the Barty, Andreescu, Kenin, Osaka, etc. Seems the younger players are back in it.

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  2. Thanks for your blogging during this event; excellent as always.
    A Grand Slam event invariably creates great stories and it was a pleasure to read about them on your blog.

    I think we all thought that Swiatek had the potential to win the French Open “one day”. She’s arrived a little ahead of schedule though! I can’t remember the last time that a woman was this dominant throughout a Grand Slam event.

    It was a remarkable effort to get the event finished without significant problems. I really feared that the weather was going to cause problems initially. The organisers have done a great job in difficult circumstances.

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    • “can’t remember the last time that a woman was this dominant throughout a Grand Slam event.”
      Well Serena has won six Slams without dropping a set. But in terms of % games won, Swiatek beats every single one of those. She won 75% of games played! Which is the highest since Hingis won the Australian Open in 1997. Graf, Navratilova and Every have all had at least 80% though, and Lenglen has the record with something insane like 93%…

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for reading and your comments, Vince. I remember that first day and the dreadful conditions! They have done well to finish on time. The roof and the lights on multiple courts were much needed for this year’s edition.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, I didn’t realise that Poland hadn’t had a slam champion of either gender before so I can only imagine the welcome Iga will get when she returns home to Warsaw. She seems like a very well balanced person who will make the most of it and not let it go to her head. Lexus Poland have already agreed to sponsor her, just as they did Aga.

    it’s amazing to think too that she’s achieved all this despite having just finished high school with very good results and earned a place at university if she wants to take it (she must choose tennis instead, surely, at least for now?).

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