Teenage sensation Iga Swiatek is ‘living the dream’ ahead of French Open final… but Sofia Kenin’s first Grand Slam title in Australia could prove decisive on the biggest stage
- Teenager Iga Swiatek faces Sofia Kenin in Saturday’s French Open final in Paris
- The emerging Pole also contested doubles but lost in the semi-finals on Friday
- Kenin won the Australian Open in January but Swiatek is now eyeing her first
While men’s tennis still waits for a meaningful change at the top, Saturday’s French Open final is a reminder that it has already happened among the women.
Poland’s Iga Swiatek, 19, will face American Sofia Kenin, 21, at Roland Garros in what will be the most youthful championship match at a Grand Slam since 2008.
The march of the youngsters continues — seven of the last eight major finals have been won by women under the age of 23 or under, and five by those 21 or less.
Iga Swiatek, 19, has established herself as a force in women’s tennis while at Roland Garros
She has not dropped more than five games in a match ahead of the final against Sofia Kenin
Serena Williams, slamless since 2017 and long since back in Florida nursing her achilles tendon, is left increasingly looking like a museum piece at the age of 39.
Swiatek, whose potential has long been identified within the game, has even had enough energy to seriously contest the doubles, although on Friday she lost in the semi-finals.
The exception to the emerging rule was Simona Halep, now 29, winning Wimbledon last year. Nowhere is experience more valuable than on grass, with its peculiar qualities.
Kenin, 21, is on course to be the Player of the Season if she can overcame Swiatek in Paris
Kenin won her maiden Grand Slam title back in January by claiming the Australian Open
Saturday’s final also signifies what is pretty much the end of the women’s season. If Kenin follows up her Australian Open victory with another triumph there can be no question that she will be the player of this strange year.
Swiatek has lost a maximum of five games in any match this fortnight and has hit the ball cleaner than any of her rivals.
Much will depend on whether she can emulate what another then 19-year-old, Bianca Andreescu, did when she got to the 2019 US Open final and play as fearlessly as the Canadian did against Serena Williams.
The doubles might not have been perfect preparation as she and partner Nicole Melichar took two hours and 28 minutes to lose 6-4 in the third set.
Swiatek is playing her best tennis to date and is hitting the ball cleaner than all of her rivals
Although Swiatek has been composed in the singles, she got involved in a dispute with the umpire.
‘It’s been amazing for me,’ she said when asked about her overall experience. ‘It’s going to hit me after the tournament. I’m living the dream. Now I’m still on adrenaline.’
Kenin is a somewhat chilly customer and banking that title in Melbourne may well prove decisive in who handles the occasion best.
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