Iga Swiatek reached her second Grand Slam final of the year Thursday, as she rallied to take down No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the US Open semifinals.
While the 21-year-old never had made a US Open quarterfinal before this season, she is now the first world No. 1 to reach the final at Flushing Meadows since Serena Williams in 2014. That drought was tied for the longest of any major in the Open era.
“I felt a huge difference between the first set and the last two,” Swiatek said after her semifinal win. “I’m pretty happy that I got my level of energy up a little bit.
“Aryna made it difficult today, for sure. I felt like she was serving pretty solid. It was hard to come back in the third, but I’m pretty happy that I did.”
World No. 1 @iga_swiatek is into the #USOpen final! pic.twitter.com/DuTcAAi3zU— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 9, 2022
World No. 1 @iga_swiatek is into the #USOpen final! pic.twitter.com/DuTcAAi3zU
The world No. 1 fired off the last four games, and 16 of the last 20 points, to beat Sabalenka. Before that, the Belarusian had led by 2-0 and 4-2 in the third set.
“I just went all in, you know. This time it actually gave me a lot, and the balls that I played went in,” Swiatek said. “I’m pretty happy because I feel like we were both kind of sometimes risking, because the pace was really, really high.”
Sabalenka gave kudos to the Polish star after the match.
“She was just going for it,” said Sabalenka, the sixth-ranked player in the world. “She was hitting every ball and putting me under pressure and playing really aggressively.”
The match was Sabalenka’s third loss in a Grand Slam semifinal. The 24-year-old also lost in the semifinals of Wimbledon and the US Open in 2021.
In Saturday’s final, Swiatek will face off against Ons Jabeur.
Jabeur, the No. 5 seed, became the first African woman to reach a final at the US Open in the professional era with her 6-1, 6-3 win over Caroline Garcia. The 28-year-old from Tunisia will be appearing in her second-straight major final, after she also reached the final at Wimbledon.
“Feels more real, to be honest with you, just to be in the final again. At Wimbledon, I was kind of just living the dream, and I couldn’t believe it,” Jabeur said. “Now just, I hope, I’m getting used to it…Now maybe I know what to do.
“After Wimbledon, [there was] a lot of pressure on me and I’m really relieved that I can back up my results.”