Iga > Ons

Iga Swiatek of Poland won the women's singles title at the U.S. Open in New York yesterday. She beat Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in two sets. The second required a tiebreaker.

You have to love both of these players – who they are, where they're from, how hard they work, how supremely talented they are. A fan's only objection might be that Jabeur came out so flat in the first set of the final that she didn't seem to be truly in the match until close to the end. She was coming on strong in the second set, but even then she made a couple of mistakes, and you can't get away with that when you're playing a star as disciplined as Swiatek.

Ons likes to mix it up with drop shots and slices, but Iga didn't give her a chance to pull many of her stunts. The Polish player hit hard and deep; the Tunisian couldn't get many of her finesse shots off, and when she did, they didn't land where she wanted them.

It was Jabeur's second runner-up trophy in a major tournament this year, the first coming at Wimbledon in July. Swiatek won in Paris in June, her second triumph there after taking the top trophy in the Covid-delayed French Open in the fall of 2020. And so she's now got three majors under her belt, and she won't turn 22 until May.

Jabeur may not have been helped in New York by the easy time she had in the semi-finals. Caroline Garcia of France, who had been playing with white heat over the last month or two, reverted to her older, more tentative ways and offered little resistance; it was almost a laugher for Ons. Perhaps she needed a tougher challenge to get her in the right mindset for the final.

Meanwhile, in her own semi-final, Swiatek had her hands full against Aryna Sabalenka, the bellowing Belarussian; the Pole needed three sets to clear her way to the championship match. After that test, Iga had the proverbial laser-like focus yesterday. She had been faltering after flaming out on the grass in London, but she worked hard to get her head back on straight.

It paid off. Swiatek's prize is $2.6 million; Jabeur's, half that amount. The semifinalists each earned $705,000.

Today, the men's final match pits Casper Ruud of Norway against Carlos Alcaraz of Spain. Alcaraz, a 19-year-old firebrand, is favored, but Ruud, 23, is no slouch by any means. The Spaniard has prevailed in one hard-fought, epic match after another this week, while Ruud, the greatest player his country has ever seen, has had an easier time so far. You have to win seven matches in a row to get the trophy at these events, and fatigue could be a factor. But they've been saying that about Carlos for a week now, and he sure hasn't looked too tired by my standards.

The New York crowd is downright rude, if you'll pardon the expression, and I suspect they'll be rooting hard for Alcaraz. But if there's a more unflappable player in the tournament than Ruud, I haven't seen him. It's hard to see this one being a sprint as opposed to a marathon.