Ranked outside the Top 50 at the start of the event, and without a WTA title to her name, Iga Swiatek announced her sensational arrival at the top of the women’s game with a stunning fortnight of tennis that culminated in winning the Roland Garros title. By contrast, her hero Rafa Nadal glided serenely to yet another title – his thirteenth in Paris and 20th Grand Slam. Dominic Stricker (pictured) of Switzerland won the boy’s singles, while France’s Elsa Jacquemot captured the girls’ singles title.
Last year’s 16&U European Junior Championships silver-medallist and third seed Jacquemot fought back from a set down to eventually unravel unseeded Alina Charaeva of Russia 4-6 6-4 6-2 in the final. Charaeva had scored a series of impressive wins, including a second round upset of top seed and Australian Open champion Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva (AND). Jacquemot, for her part, saw off another hot prospect in the shape of former Les Petits As winner Alexandra Eala (PHI) in the semi-finals. Eala had played arguably the match of the tournament, battling from behind in a two-hour, three-set quarter final win over 2018 European Junior singles and doubles champion Linda Noskova (CZE), her defeated opponent in their memorable Les Petits As final.
Stricker, a seven-time finalist on the Tennis Europe Junior Tour with three wins, took out his compatriot Leandro Riedi in a one-hour and one-minute final, 6-2 6-4. Stricker is the first Swiss player to win the junior boys’ title since Stanislas Wawrinka in 2003, and he did it in convincing style. He lost only one set all tournament, to Argentina’s Juan Bautista Torres in the semi-finals and was impressive in the quarterfinal against Lukas Neumayer (AUT). Riedi outdid Guy Den Ouden (NED), who had upset second seeded local Arthur Cazaux in the first round. The champion, an 18-year-old lefty, echoed the sentiments of many juniors, many of whom playing in their first ever junior Grand Slam.
He thanked tournament organisers for being able to put the event together, “For everyone, I think it was a pretty hard year, so it’s unbelievable to play this tournament.” His star has been rising over the last few months, having started the year with a quarterfinal spot at the Australian Open. He becomes the eighth player from Switzerland to win a major junior title and, along with Reidi, promises a bright future for Swiss men’s tennis accustomed to a richness of successes at the hands of Wawrinka and Roger Federer.
Underlining his potential, Stricker scored a double win in Paris, taking the boys’ doubles title in addition to the singles trophy. Playing with Flavio Cobolli (ITA), the European pairing defeated the Brazilian team of Bruno Oliveira & Natan Rodrigues 6-2 6-4 for the title. The girls’ doubles title was won by the Italian pairing of Eleonora Alvisi & Lisa Pigato. The unseeded players were too strong for the fifth-seeded Russians, Maria Bondarenko & Diana Schnaider, winning the title match 7-6(3) 6-4.
SWIATEK SAILS TO VICTORY
In becoming the first Pole ever to win a Grand Slam singles title, Swiatek stormed through the French Open draw. From the outset she made her mark, with a straight set win in the first round against last year’s finalist Marketa Vondrousova (CZE). She was unrelenting as she advanced through the draw, ousting a resurgent Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) and showing no mercy against defending champion Simona Halep in round four, avenging her loss to the Romanian at the same stage at last year’s event. Her captivating mix of power, touch and precision outdid qualifiers in both the quarters and semis. In the final, Swiatek completely outplayed a slightly hampered Sofia Kenin, who was always on the back foot thanks to Swiatek’s heavy top spin. Early in the second set, the American had her thigh taped and the break turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Swiatek, but the beginning of the end for Kenin. Practising her serve while her opponent was off the court, the Pole’s game strengthened; she was serving at 50% first serves before the pause and upon resumption she returned to the flawless tennis which took her to the final, closing out the match 6-4 6-1.
Incredulous during her winner’s speech, Swiatek was as endearing as she was charming, often at a loss for words, “I’m just overwhelmed, it was an amazing final. I think I was just mentally consistent and I just wanted to play as aggressively as in the previous rounds,” she said. The Warsaw native becomes the first player outside of the top 50 to win at Roland Garros since 1980. Still just 19, she had a stellar junior career, her titles showing an ideal progression from the youngest categories of international junior tennis to the top of the game:
Junior Wimbledon Champion
European Junior Championships 16&U Singles silver medalist
European Junior Championships 16&U Doubles gold medalist
European Junior Championships 14&U Singles gold medalist
European Junior Championships 14&U Doubles gold medalist
Winner of 8 other Tennis Europe Junior Tour events in doubles and singles
Other notable names from the Juniors to qualify for the main draw this year were Denmark’s Clara Tauson as well as Marta Kostyuk (UKR). The top-seeded junior boys player Harold Mayot was a first round casualty in the main draw.
NADAL MAKES IT #20
Nadal’s numbers are amazing: Sunday’s victory was his 20th Grand Slam title, 13th at Roland Garros, and his 100th match win in Paris, with zero sets lost in 2020. Sealing a 6-0 6-2 7-5 win against his great rival Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal once again tasted victory at his favourite slam. Despite the one-sided score line, the first set took 48 minutes. A mixture of long rallies peppered by Djokovic drop shots, nothing could throw the Spaniard off his game. After clinching the first set, Nadal quickly wrapped up the second before Djokovic showed some resistance in the third, moving Nadal around the court more effectively and mixing up his tactics, throwing in some serve and volleys.
Nadal had reached the final after a convincing semi-final win over Diego Schwartzman (ARG), his victor in Rome a fortnight ago. Another key battle for the Spaniard was his quarterfinal victory against up-and-coming Italian Jannik Sinner. The former NextGen champ, the first player born in 2001 to reach the third round, forced the Spaniard to lift his game and was perhaps the catalyst for his intensity in the ensuing matches.
Holding back tears as the Spanish national anthem echoed through the new Court Philippe Chatrier, Nadal was nostalgic after the match. “After all the things that I went through my career and with injuries, without my team and family everything would be impossible. It was a very tough year. This tournament means everything to me…I spent the most important moments in my career here.”
The men’s champions were Germans Kevin Krawietz & Andreas Mies. They beat Mate Pavic (CRO) & Bruno Soares (BRA) 6-3 7-5 to defend their title. In the women’s doubles, Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) got over her New York blues. With her regular partner Timea Babos (HUN), the pair defended their doubles title with a 6-4 7-5 victory over Alexa Guarachi (CHI) & Desirae Krawczyk (USA) in the final. There was no mixed doubles event this year.
For full results from Paris, visit the official Roland Garros website.