Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur have been the best tennis players in 2022, and they will finish the last major event of the year by facing off for the U.S. Open title.
Swiatek, the world No. 1 from Poland, rallied past Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in Thursday’s semifinals to reach her third Grand Slam singles final. She won the other two at the French Open in 2020 and again three months ago.
But Swiatek hasn’t been the dominant force she was to win her first major without losing more than four games in any set and her second major on a 35-match win streak. Twice at this event, she rallied after losing the first set. And before it started, she disclosed that she disliked the type of tennis balls used at the U.S. Open.
“I trust myself for sure on clay, and maybe also other surfaces,” she said. “Here I just try to accept maybe that sometimes I’m not going to trust myself, and I still need to prove myself in a couple of matches maybe against heavy hitters.”
Earlier, Tunisia’s Jabeur swept Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia 6-1, 6-3 to reach her second consecutive Grand Slam final. Jabeur, the Wimbledon runner-up, had eight aces despite getting just 43 percent of her first serves in (23 total).
Swiatek-Jabeur is the first U.S. Open final pitting the top two women in the season race standings since 2013 (Serena Williams–Victoria Azarenka). Jabeur, like Swiatek, might not have been expected to get this far. She followed her Wimbledon breakthrough by going 2-3 in the North America hard-court swing, including retiring from one match with an abdominal injury.
“Iga never loses finals, so it’s going to be very tough,” said Jabeur, who is 2-2 against Swiatek and lost their last match in Rome in May. “I know she struggled a little bit with the balls here, but I don’t see her struggling much, to be honest with you. She’s playing awesome. It’s going to be tough match. Definitely going for my revenge.”
The 28-year-old Jabeur is the only African woman and Arab or North African man or woman to reach a major final in the Open Era. She was the higher seed in the Wimbledon final in July, but Kazakh Elena Rybakina rallied past her 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
“[This] feels more real,” Jabeur said. “At Wimbledon I was kind of just living the dream, and I couldn’t believe it.
“Now maybe I know what to do in the finals.”
Garcia, the former world No. 4 in 2018 who tumbled to No. 79 earlier this year, had her 13-match win streak snapped in her first major semifinal. A dominant player in her first five matches at the U.S. Open, she had nearly twice as many unforced errors as winners against Jabeur.
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