They say the stars shine bright in New York, and this weekend, two of tennis’ most exciting young stars lit up Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens.
21-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland and 19-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz delivered dazzling performances to hoist U.S. Open singles titles, with Swiatek claiming the women’s singles title, the third major championship of her career, and Alcaraz earning his first-ever Slam title.
Swiatek was up first as she faced off against fifth-seeded Tunisian Ons Jabeur on Saturday afternoon, holding off the crafty Jabeur 6-2, 7-6(5) to win the championship.
“It’s hard to describe it in one sentence,” she said in her post-match press conference. “But I’m just super proud of myself because it wasn’t an easy match, even though at the beginning I was dominating, I knew it’s going to be tight and I knew that Ons is going to use any mistake that I’m going to make. I didn’t want to back out. In the second set it got really physical action and I’m happy that I got my level of energy up a little bit more so I could finish and be really precise in those moments where I needed that.”
The opening set of the final was all Swiatek as her big hitting allowed her to break through on Jabeur’s serve and she won that first set in just 30 minutes. But the second set was much closer, with Jabeur setting up seven break points on the Swiatek serve to tighten the match. Swiatek had a championship point on her serve at 5-4, but was unable to convert and the set would eventually head into a tiebreaker.
From 4-5 down in the breaker, Swiatek ripped a forehand winner which was followed by two Jabeur errors, as Swiatek closed out her third major title in one hour and 50 minutes.
It’s been a remarkable season for Swiatek, who at one point had a 37-match winning streak which included her second French Open title, before she fell in the early rounds at Wimbledon. But she regained her top form prior to New York, and has bolstered her lead atop the WTA Rankings as she is 5,275 points ahead of now second-ranked Jabeur, and proved she is capable of winning big events on hard courts.
“At the beginning of the season I realized that maybe I can have some good results on WTA events,” said Swiatek, whose best results prior to this year came on clay. “I also made it to the semifinal of Australian Open. But I wasn’t sure if I was on the level yet to win actually a Grand Slam, especially [at the] U.S. Open where the surface is so fast. It’s something that I wasn’t expecting for sure. It’s also like a confirmation for me that sky is the limit. I’m proud, also surprised a little bit, just happy that I was able to do that.”
The following day it was time for Alcaraz to have his signature moment as a young professional. Faced off against Casper Ruud of Norway, who had reached the French Open final earlier this year, Alcaraz would need to be ready to play his best following three consecutive five-set matches in the previous rounds.
After splitting the first two sets, Alcaraz regained the momentum with an early break of serve to take the 2-0 lead, but gave it back soon after as it looked as if the amount of time Alcaraz has spent on court throughout the tournament looked to be effecting him.
The young Spaniard dug in once again though, saving set points at 5-6 before outplaying Ruud in the tiebreaker to move within one set of the title. In the fourth set, he snagged the key break point for a 4-2 lead and consolidated it to jump ahead 5-2. As he tried to close it out at 5-3, he coughed up one championship point with an overhead into the net, but blasted service winner past a lunging Ruud to win the title, falling to his back and looking up in disbelief.
“It’s crazy to me,” Alcaraz said. “I’ve never thought that I was going to achieve something like that at 19-years-old. So everything is coming so fast. For me it’s unbelievable. It’s something I dream since I was a kid, since I started playing tennis. Of course, lift this trophy today is amazing for me.”
The match was not only for the U.S. Open title but also the world No. 1 ranking, and Alcaraz now becomes the youngest No. 1 in the history of the ATP rankings, as well as the youngest major champion on the men’s side since his compatriot Rafael Nadal won the French Open in 2005. He’s the youngest male U.S. Open champion since American Pete Sampras won in 1990.
“This is something I tried to achieve, all the hard work I did with my team,” said Alcaraz. “I’m just 19-years-old. All the tough decisions were with my parents and my team. This is something really special for me.”
2022 U.S. Open Men’s Doubles Champions: Rajeev Ram (United States)/Joe Salisbury (Great Britain)
2022 U.S. Open Women’s Doubles Champions: Barbora Krejcikova (Czech Republic)/Katerina Siniakova (Czech Republic)
2022 U.S. Open Mixed Doubles Champions: John Peers (Australia)/Storm Standers (Australia)
2022 U.S. Open Wheelchair Men’s Singles Champion: Alfie Hewitt (Great Britain)
2022 U.S. Open Wheelchair Men’s Doubles Champions: Alfie Hewitt (Great Britain)/Gordon Reid (Great Britain)
2022 U.S. Open Wheelchair Women’s Doubles Champions: Diede De Groot (Netherlands)/Aniek Van Koot (Netherlands)
2022 U.S. Open Wheelchair Women’s Singles Champion: Diede De Groot (Netherlands)
2022 U.S. Open Wheelchair Quad Singles Champion: Niels Vink (Netherlands)
2022 U.S. Open Wheelchair Quad Doubles Champions: Niels Vink (Netherlands)/Sam Schroder (Netherlands)
2022 U.S. Open Boys’ Singles Champion: Martin Landaluce (Spain)
2022 U.S. Open Girls’ Singles Champion: Alexandra Eala (Philippines)
2022 U.S. Open Boys’ Doubles Champions: Ozan Baris (United States)/Nishesh Basavareddy (United States)
2022 U.S. Open Girls’ Doubles Champions: Lucie Havlickova (Czech Republic)/Diana Shnaider (Russia)
2022 U.S. Open Wheelchair Boys’ Singles Champion: Ben Bartram (Great Britain)
2022 U.S. Open Wheelchair Girls’ Singles Champion: Jade Moreira Lanai (Brazil)
2022 U.S. Open Wheelchair Boys’ Doubles Champions: Ben Bartram (Great Britain)/Dahnon Ward (Great Britain)
2022 U.S. Open Wheelchair Girls’ Doubles Champions: Jade Moreira Lanai (Brazil)/Maylee Phelps (United States)