Poland Garros! Iga Swiatek sweeps Sofia Kenin for bonkers French Open title


Poland’s Iga Swiatek won a Grand Slam tennis tournament with the best combination of unheralded dominance in more than 40 years, taking the French Open without dropping a set, capped by a 6-4, 6-1 victory over American Sofia Kenin in Saturday’s final.

Swiatek, a 19-year-old ranked 54th in the world, won her first WTA Tour title of any kind. She had played just one prior final, the fewest of any woman to lift a major trophy since at least 1979.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Swiatek said on court. “It’s just overwhelming for me. It’s crazy. Two years ago, I won junior Grand Slam [at Wimbledon]. Now, I’m here.”

Swiatek outplayed the fourth seed Kenin, the Australian Open champion with the strongest record in Grand Slams this year. She hit 25 winners to 17 unforced errors and broke Kenin’s opening service game in each set.

“I was mentally consistent,” said Swiatek, whose routine included listening to Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” before matches and leaning on the same sports psychologist as Olympic Alpine skiing champion Mikaela Shiffrin. “I don’t know. I just wanted to play aggressive as in previous rounds. I felt like today was really stressful for me.”

Swiatek is the first woman to win a major in more than 40 years without having cracked the world’s top 47. Women have won Grand Slams with lower rankings at the time, but they were former top-20 players coming back from injury, pregnancy or retirement.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Swiatek prevailed with the most dominant run through Roland Garros in more than a decade. The last woman to win all seven matches without dropping a set or facing a tiebreak was Belgian Justine Henin in 2006 and 2007.

The last woman to win in Paris while dropping fewer games than Swiatek? Steffi Graf in 1988.

Swiatek was so suffocating in the early rounds — and the draw produced so many upsets — that she became the tournament favorite six days ago, after she trounced top seed Simona Halep in the fourth round to make her first major quarterfinal.

“Winning against Simona … I already thought about the tournament as, like, my lifetime achievement,” said Swiatek, whose father rowed for Poland at the 1988 Olympics. “Really, I had no expectations.”

Swiatek becoming the first Polish player to win a major singles title capped an unpredictable year in women’s tennis.

Kenin, 21, broke through to win the Australian Open in February, her first time getting past the fourth round of a Slam. She played Saturday’s final with tape on her left thigh, then wrapped it some more during a second-set medical timeout.

I’m not going to use this as an excuse, but my leg obviously was not the best,” said Kenin, noting it began affecting her in the third or fourth round. “After the first set, I just felt it was so tight, I couldn’t move.”

After the coronavirus pandemic-induced halt, Naomi Osaka re-emerged as a dominant force, winning the U.S. Open after failing to get out of the fourth round of her previous three majors.

With Osaka and 2019 champion Ash Barty of Australia not playing Roland Garros, there were openings in the draw.

Serena Williams withdrew before her second-round match with an Achilles injury, further clouding, at age 39, her bid to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

There is currently one event left on the WTA calendar in 2020, putting focus on the next major, the Australian Open in January.

The French Open concludes with the men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, live on Sunday at 9 a.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Swiatek, who said she grew up on clay, has openly rooted for Nadal throughout her teenage years.

“He was the only player I watched when I was younger,” she said.

Swiatek marveled that she lifted the trophy on Court Philippe Chatrier, where Nadal has done so 12 times, the first coming when Swiatek had just turned 4 years old.

The scene was made all the more incredible given that Swiatek finished high school three months ago. Rather than practicing, she spent lockdown in Warsaw prepping for and taking advanced math and English exams.

She pledged to give a tennis career two years, according to RolandGarros.com.  If she was merely a top-100 player, not fighting for Grand Slam titles, she would to go to university.

Now, Swiatek looks and sounds like she’s found her calling.

“I know my game isn’t developed perfectly,” she said. “Also I think the biggest change for me is going to be to be consistency. I think this is what women’s tennis is struggling with. That’s why we have so many new Grand Slam winners because we are not, like, as consistent as Rafa, Roger [Federer] and Novak.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open men’s singles draw

Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz
1 Comment

The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They meet in Friday’s semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).

All of the American men lost before the fourth round. The last U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals was Andre Agassi in 2003.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw

IOC board recommends withdrawing International Boxing Association’s recognition

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Boxing

The IOC finally ran out of patience with the International Boxing Federation on Wednesday and set a date to terminate its Olympic status this month.

While boxing will still be on the program at the 2024 Paris Games, the International Olympic Committee said its executive board has asked the full membership to withdraw its recognition of the IBA at a special meeting on June 22.

IOC members rarely vote against recommendations from their 15-member board and the IBA’s ouster is likely a formality.

The IOC had already suspended the IBA’s recognition in 2019 over long-standing financial, sports integrity and governance issues. The Olympic body oversaw the boxing competitions itself at the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021 and will do so again for Paris.

An IOC statement said the boxing body “has failed to fulfil the conditions set by the IOC … for lifting the suspension of the IBA’s recognition.”

The IBA criticized what it called a “truly abhorrent and purely political” decision by the IOC and warned of “retaliatory measures.”

“Now, we are left with no chance but to demand a fair assessment from a competent court,” the boxing body’s Russian president Umar Kremlev said in a statement.

The IOC-IBA standoff has also put boxing’s place at the 2028 Los Angeles Games at risk, though that should now be resolved.

The IOC previously stressed it has no problem with the sport or its athletes — just the IBA and its current president Kremlev, plus financial dependence on Russian state energy firm Gazprom.

In a 24-page report on IBA issues published Wednesday, the IOC concluded “the accumulation of all of these points, and the constant lack of drastic evolution throughout the many years, creates a situation of no-return.”

Olympic boxing’s reputation has been in question for decades. Tensions heightened after boxing officials worldwide ousted long-time IOC member C.K. Wu as their president in 2017 when the organization was known by its French acronym AIBA.

“From a disreputable organization named AIBA governed by someone from the IOC’s upper echelon, we committed to and executed a change in the toxic and corrupt culture that was allowed to fester under the IOC for far too long,” Kremlev said Wednesday in a statement.

National federations then defied IOC warnings in 2018 by electing as their president Gafur Rakhimov, a businessman from Uzbekistan with alleged ties to organized crime and heroin trafficking.

Kremlev’s election to replace Rakhimov in 2020 followed another round of IOC warnings that went unheeded.

Amid the IBA turmoil, a rival organization called World Boxing has attracted initial support from officials in the United States, Switzerland and Britain.

The IBA can still continue to organize its own events and held the men’s world championships last month in the Uzbek capital Tashkent.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!