Iga Swiatek rallies to defeat Aryna Sabalenka and reach U.S. Open final

Iga Swiatek, of Poland, reacts after defeating Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus.
Iga Swiatek celebrates after defeating Aryna Sabalenka during the U.S. Open women’s semifinals Thursday night.
(Charles Krupa / Associated Press)

When world No. 1 Iga Swiatek went down 2-0 to Aryna Sabalenka to start the third set of their U.S. Open semifinal on Thursday, she felt down emotionally, too.

“I wasn’t expecting too much from myself,” Swiatek said. “Aryna is a great server. I wasn’t sure I could break back.”

As usual, Swiatek was too critical of herself. She broke Sabalenka’s serve to pull even at 2-2 and broke again for 4-4, gaining the momentum and confidence to finish off a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Swiatek, 21, is the first Polish woman to reach the U.S. Open final.


Swiatek, a two-time French Open champion, will face No. 5 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia on Saturday. Jabeur seized command of her semifinal from the outset on Thursday, taking merely 66 minutes to complete a 6-1, 6-3 rout of No. 17 Caroline Garcia, who had been riding a 13-match winning streak.

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Swiatek and Jabeur have split their previous four matches. They split the two they’ve played on hard courts. “Iga never loses finals, so it’s going to be very tough,” said Jabeur, said. “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.”

Swiatek returned the respect. “She has such good hands,” Swiatek said. “She’s solid on the baseline and when she’s going in.”

Swiatek said the turning point Thursday was the bathroom break she took after losing a jittery first set. “I remember earlier when I was younger, all I did in the bathroom between sets when I lost was cry,” she said in an on-court interview. “This time I can actually think about what to change and actually problem-solve.”

It worked. “I’m always hard on myself but I’m just happy to be at this stage of the tournament,” Swiatek said.


The winner on Saturday will earn $2.6 million. The runnerup will earn $1.3 million.