Warsaw | Swiatek fulfils a dream by winning her home title

The last few days were difficult and stressful for Iga Swiatek, by her own admission, but she fulfilled her dream of winning a title in her homeland, Poland, when she routed Laura Siegemund in Sunday’s final of the BNP Paribas Warsaw Open.

It was not easy to play here, because, for half a year, we have only talked about it at home,. My dad is involved in organising this tournament. I know how much heart he put into it. I also gave it my all this week, and he gives his all, all the time, just like the tournament directors. I hope, dad, that you have fulfilled your ambitions and now you will start resting. Iga Świątek

There were no sign of the nervy Swiatek who clawed her way past Yanina Wickmayer on Sunday morning, in a semi-final match held over from Saturday due to fading light.

The weather conditions had been difficult all week, and only 1 of the 4 quarter-finals was played on Friday, that of Germany’s Tatjana Maria who defeated Rebecca Sramkova, a Slovakian qualifier, 6-3 1-6 6-1, while the 3 others were postponed until Saturday because of rain, which proved to be a long day for all concerned.

Swiatek dealt with her quarter-final opponent, Linda Noskova, the 18-year old talent from the Czech Republic, with her customary dominance, needing 80 minutes to post a 6-1 6-4 win.

In that encounter with the No 8 seed, the 22-year old Pole won 72% of her first-serve points to Noskova’s 68%, and met with just a single break point, which she failed to save, but she converted 4 of the 8 break point chances she summoned on the Czech’s serve.

Meanwhile, Swiatek’s opponent in the semi-final, Wickmayer, defeated Britain’s Heather Watson in their quarter-final match-up, the Belgian posting a 6-4 6-3 win after an hour and 34 minutes of play.

As a result, the 33-year old, who was ranked as high as 12 in the world back in 2010, makes a come-back into the Top 100 of the WTA singles rankings again.


Yanina Wickmayer almost pushed Iga Swiatek into a third set but lost in two in the semi-final

BNP Paribas Warsaw Open/Facebook

It looked as if Swiatek would trot through the semi-final when she led Wickmayer 6-1, 5-2 and held match points against the Belgian’s serve, but Wickmayer saved them all and pushed the set to 5-all when the match was suspended until Saturday, much to the consternation of the capacity crowd.

The first set had been a relatively quick affair at 37 minutes, Swiatek looking in impressive form as she broke 3 times, while getting broken the once herself.

The second opened well for both, but neither was able to make the break-through until the Pole broke for a 3-2 lead, and raced out to 5-2, but she couldn’t get it done, and was broken easily.

Wickmayer then saved 3 match points on her own serve to make it 5-4, and then broke Swiatek again for 5-5, when play was halted.

Returning on Saturday, Swiatek looked unusually tense, and was 2 points away from being pushed into a third set at 30-30 and deuce when serving at 5-6 down, but she held on to push the match into the breaker instead.

Needing 3 more match points after nearly losing a 5-1 point lead to seal her win, she edged past Wickmayer, 6-1 7-6(6), by converting on her 6th.


Laura Siegemund was dominated by Iga Swiatek in the final

BNP Paribas Warsaw Open/Facebook

Earlier in the day, her next opponent, Siegemund, after coming through a 3-setter against Lucrezia Stefanini from Italy, 7-6(5) 5-7 6-3, had defeated Maria in their all-German semi-final, 5-7 6-3 6-4, to reach the final after a little over 6 hours on court.

After a short rest, Swiatek returned to the packed centre court and stormed past an exhausted Siegemund, 6-0 6-1, in just 68 minutes, dominating the German from the start and almost double-bagelling her in some style.

The French Open champion did not lose a set over the course of the tournament, and has added Warsaw to the titles she has won at Doha and Stuttgart, bringing her total for the year to 4 and her career tally to 15.

“I want to thank my team and my family,” Swiatek told her adoring fans afterwards. “It’s not easy to play in Warsaw, but I’m so happy that we could manage and do everything we could today, after a pretty tiring day yesterday.

“I wanted to put it all in, and go for it. I’m pretty happy that I did.”

Swiatek broke Siegemund 5 times in the final, and never faced a break point in an emphatic display to claim her first-ever WTA Trophy on home soil, winning 53 out of 77 points in the match and dropping only 6 points behind her serve to become the first Polish woman in the Open Era to have won a Tour event in her home country.

“I am glad that, despite the hard beginning in the first round, I could play better and better, and show what I can do,” added Swiatek. “It surprises me, but this tournament is on par with Roland Garros when it comes to stress levels. I am proud that I managed to survive it!”

In addition to the pressure of trying to delight her home fans, Swiatek had an added incentive because her father, Tomasz, who is a former Olympic rower, is the organiser of the WTA 250 event and responsible for the switch from clay to hard courts to act as a warm-up event ahead of the North American Swing.

“It was not easy to play here, because, for half a year, we have only talked about it at home,” she revealed “My dad is involved in organising this tournament. I know how much heart he put into it.

“I also gave it my all this week, and he gives his all, all the time, just like the tournament directors.

“I hope, dad, that you have fulfilled your ambitions and now you will start resting.”

Meanwhile, 35-year-old Siegemund can take some positives from her Warsaw run that led her to reach her first Tour title match since 2017, and was seeking a 3rd career title.

The German was far from her best against Swiatek, probably as a result of 6 hours she played on Saturday, but then she was not allowed any scope for a fightback by the World No 1 either.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t put up more of a battle today, but it was a little bit too much yesterday,” admitted Siegemund, referring to the two 3-setters she played on Saturday. “I tried my best, but the legs, they stayed at the hotel today.

“But for me, it was really a great success anyway… it was almost a win for me to be a final at all. It’s been a long time. On such a great stage with such great spectators. … I just enjoyed it.”

The World No 153 is projected to rise 42 places in Monday’s rankings to 111.

Swiatek was quick to praise the German’s efforts: “Laura, what you did yesterday was pretty surreal,” she told her during the trophy ceremony. “I don’t know if anyone would be able to survive that, but you did.

“Congratulations for this run, because it’s been a pretty great week, and it’s nice that we could play this final.”


Iga Swiatek ensured the ball kids were included in the celebrations

BNP Paribas Warsaw Open/Facebook

Swiatek has now recorded 45 wins this year, which is more than any other player on the WTA Tour, while on Monday she begins her 70th consecutive week at the top of the rankings, which began on 4 April, 2022.

Last year, the Pole went over 40 wins for the first time in her career as she finished the 2022 season with a 67-9 record, and looks to surpass that again this season.

“I’m pretty proud of that,” she said. “It’s not easy to play two such consistent seasons in a row. So I’m happy, even though we had some trouble with injuries, I’m still able to play well and win matches.”

In a recent interview, Swiatek said the thing she and Novak Djokovic have in common is that they are driven by competition.

“You have to ask Novak,” she said with a laugh. “I think we have competition in our blood.

“Me, when I play matches, I don’t think about statistics and records. It was definitely his goal, but I will admit that it’s always, like, we want to go out for the match and win it.

“Regardless of which round it is and what the stake is. In a way, if we, as players, were thinking about all those points, numbers, stats, then it would be much harder. We don’t play tennis to think about it.”

Now eying the defence of her US Open title, Swiatek is up for new challenges, and it seems the Olympics is also in her sights.

Hubert Hurkacz, the Polish men’s No 1, has confirmed that he and Swiatek are planning to play in the mixed doubles together at the 2024 Paris Olympics, having kicked off their partnership earlier this year at the United Cup.

On X, formerly known as Twitter, Hurkacz answered a fan: “Yes, we will play Olympics mixed doubles with Iga!”


Yanina Wickmayer & Heather Watson (L) won the doubles title at the Warsaw Open on Sunday

Adam Harasim/BNP Paribas Warsaw Open

Later on Sunday, Wickmayer & Watson prevented a Polish sweep of the Warsaw titles by defeating home hopes Weronika Falkowska & Katarzyna Piter, 6-4 6-4, in the doubles final.

During the 77-minute victory, Watson & Wickmayer converted half of their 6 break points, while also saving 6 of the 7 break points they faced.

It is Watson’s 5th career WTA doubles title, and her first since 2018, while Wickmayer has now won 4 WTA doubles titles in her career.


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