A historic weekend occurred at Roland-Garros
History was made at the French Open on Saturday when the unseeded 19-year-old Pole, Iga Swiatek, decisively won the championship against American world number four Sofia Kenin. This was Swiatek's first time in the Grand Slam, as well as the first Grand Slam won by any Polish player. She is also the youngest woman to win the French Open since a 16-year-old Monica Seles won in 1992, and the lowest-ranked woman to win since rankings were introduced in 1975. The match provided a glimpse into the future of women's tennis, as Kenin is also just 21 years old.
After starting slowly and falling behind Kenin 3–0, Swiatek won the match in 84 minutes without significant difficulty. She managed to dramatically shift the match's momentum, winning in straight sets to the tune of 6–4 and 6–1. Swiatek exhibited a potent blend of power and grace, hitting a flurry of winners each game predominantly with her forehand, as well as delivering an array of blistering serves. She ended the match with 25 winners — a dominating performance. The victory comes at the conclusion of a breakout tournament for Swiatek, who only dropped 23 games in total, without losing a set, on her way to the trophy.
The men’s championship was held on Sunday in a battle between world number one, 33-year-old Novak Djokovic, and the world number two, 34-year-old Rafael Nadal. Like the women’s contest, the match also had historical ramifications. Nadal was looking to increase his already historic 12 French Open victories and to tie Roger Federer for most all-time Grand Slam titles with 20. Nadal has long been crowned the “King of Clay” in reference to the red clay courts of Roland-Garros, and he lived up to the name on Sunday, dismantling the world number one in straight sets to win his 13th title at Roland-Garros.
Nadal coasted through the match, winning 6–0, 6–2, 7–5, with Djokovic only showing some life in the final set. Although he lost on Sunday, Djokovic is one of only two men who have ever beaten Nadal on the red clay. He had also won his last three matches against the Spaniard, most notably a thriller at the Australian Open, but his past success would play no factor this time. All the facets of Nadal’s game were on full display on Sunday. He successfully predicted Djokovic’s moves and was consistently drilling groundstrokes and drop shots. Perhaps most importantly, Nadal committed only 14 unforced errors, with only two in the opening set, compared to Djokovic's 52.
In describing the match, Djokovic remarked, “Certainly I could have played better, especially in the first two sets. But, you know, just he did surprise me with the way he was playing, the quality of tennis he was producing. … Today, you showed why you are the king of clay,” according to an Oct. 11 New York Times article. The match was the 56th time the duo faced each other, the most frequent rivalry on the men’s side in the Open era, with Djokovic leading all-time to the margin of 29–27. While Nadal came out victorious this time around, the two will likely meet again, possibly at the Australian Open in January, which is the next Grand Slam on the horizon.