Tennis

Youth Olympic gold medallist Iga Swiatek soars into French Open final

The 19-year-old Polish tennis player is into her first major final in Paris, two years after she won a medal at the Youth Olympic Games. She'll face American Sofia Kenin.

By Nick McCarvel ·

A dream came true on Thursday for Polish tennis player Iga Swiatek.

Just 19 years old and ranked No.54 in the world, Swiatek swept past Argentinian qualifier Nadia Podoroska 6-2, 6-1 in just one hour and ten minutes to reach the French Open women's singles final, set to be held on Saturday.

She’ll take on 2020 Australian Open champ Sofia Kenin. The American withstood a barrage of power from Rio 2016 bronze medallist Petra Kvitova, winning 6-4, 7-5.

“I’m kind of surprised,” an emotional Swiatek said on court after her semi-final win. “I would have never thought before the tournament that I would play so good here. On the other hand, I knew that if I was going to be in the final of a Grand Slam it was going to be Roland Garros. It’s a dream come true.”

Polish pride for Iga

It marks the first time in the Open era that a Polish player – male or female – has made the final at Roland Garros in singles. She’s also the first player from Poland to make a major final since Agnieszka Radwanska finished as runner-up to Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2012.

Radwanska congratulated Swiatek on social media after the win.

Podoroska was making history herself, as the first female qualifier to make the Roland Garros semis in the history of the event. But a free-swinging Swiatek never looked in doubt, playing with confidence and hitting 23 winners to her opponent’s six.

“I wanted to play this match as if it was going to be the first round… I didn’t want to think about it being a semi-final because it would stress me,” Swiatek admitted. “I’m feeling lucky that I’m feeling good and nothing hurts me. I was trying to be aggressive.”

Women's Doubles Gold Medal Match - Tennis | Buenos Aires 2018 YOG

Hosted at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, the Women's Doubles gold medal...

Success breeds success for Swiatek

Swiatek was a successful junior, notably winning the gold medal in women's doubles at the Youth Olympic Games at Buenos Aires 2018 alongside Slovenian Kaja Juvan. Earlier that summer, Swiatek won the singles title in juniors at Wimbledon, as well.

Swiatek is still alive in Paris in the doubles: She'll play the semi-finals on Friday, with new partner Nicole Melichar.

Struck with her accomplishment, the teen said she didn’t mind who she faced in Saturday’s singles final.

On Kenin, she said: “Sofia is on fire this year. I’m not thinking about it right now. I’m just happy about being in the final. It’s overwhelming for me.”

Swiatek becomes the lowest-ranked French Open finalist since the WTA rankings began in 1975.

Kenin KOs Kvitova

In the second semi-final, the two-time Wimbledon champ Kvitova could not overcome the consistency and mental toughness of Kenin, who broke through with her first major earlier this season in Melbourne.

Kenin won the first set 6-4, then failed to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second. But she righted herself two games later, closing out the match at 7-5 behind a convincing performance from the baseline, breaking Kvitova four times and winning the overall point total, 75-71.

It's the first-ever tour-level meeting for Kenin and Swiatek, but they met at Roland Garros in the juniors in 2016, Swiatek winning a third-round encounter 6-4, 7-5.

"We actually played against each other in the juniors... I lost, it was a close one," remembered Kenin. "I'm going to do my best to prepare for the final."

Sofia Kenin (USA) at the 2020 French Open