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Swiatek faces tough foe Jabeur in U.S. Open final


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Swiatek faces tough foe Jabeur in U.S. Open final
Iga Swiatek of Poland reacts after winning a point during a previous match in this year’s U.S. Open tennis tournament - Reuters

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FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – World No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland will look to underline her claim as women’s tennis’ fiercest champion when she faces off against Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur of Tunisian in the final of the United States Open on Saturday.

Swiatek quickly picked up the torch during a staggering 37-match unbeaten streak, including a second French Open title, after the shock retirement of Australian Ashleigh Barty earlier this year.

The clay specialist showed she could be lethal on hard courts too, with wins at Indian Wells and Miami, and despite a pair of early exits in Toronto and Cincinnati looks perfectly in-form at the USTA Billie Jean Tennis Centre King and ready to add another title to her stellar season.

“Even though I lost in Toronto and Cincinnati pretty early, you’re going to kind of have your chances and you have to be ready,” she told reporters, after recovering from a set down to beat Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-final.

“I’m pretty happy that on this tournament I just was kind of fresh actual mentally to actually use the chances.”

Standing in her path is hard-hitting fifth seed Jabeur, Tunisia’s “Minister of Happiness”, who wrote herself into the history books as the first African woman to reach the U.S. Open final.

A crowd favourite for her creative playing style, she rolls into her second straight Grand Slam championship match brimming with confidence, with lessons learned from her heart-breaking loss at the All-England Club to Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan.

“I just feel like now I can do whatever I can do and what I want to do on the court, which is surprising for me, and I surprise myself so many times,” Jabeur said after she flattened Caroline Garcia of France 6-1, 6-3 in the semi-final. “It’s going very well, especially this tournament.’

Swiatek and Jabeur have something of a burgeoning rivalry, with their career head-to-head tied up at two apiece.

Swiatek most recently triumphed in the Rome final on clay, while Jabeur got the upper hand in their last hard-court meeting last year in Cincinnati.

“There are a lot of challenges because she’s a really solid player,” Swiatek said.

“She has different game style than most of the players. She has a great touch. All these things mixed up, yeah, she’s just a tough opponent. That’s why probably our matches are, yeah, always kind of physical and really tight.”

Jabeur said she was all too aware of the challenge that awaits in Arthur Ashe Stadium: “Iga never loses finals.”

(Reuters)