NextGen is NowGen in women's tennis. The consistent performances from young players going deep and winning majors has been a thing over the last number of years and today would be no different. 19-year-old Iga Swiatek faced off against 21-year-old Sofia Kenin for the French Open title.
For Swiatek, this was new territory for her but stormed her way through the draw, dropping five games at most en route to the final. Her wins included a defeat of last year's finalist Marketa Vondrousova and former champion Simona Halep.
Kenin on the other hand has had the experience on the grandest stage, including her win earlier this year at the Australian Open. A win for Kenin would mean a second major on the year and really stamping her authority as being a constant threat in the majors.
Swiatek would capture her maiden major title, the first Polish player ever to do so. The win marked the fifth straight French Open where a woman would claim her first major. She would not drop a set in this tournament, marking the first-time since Justine Henin did it in 2007, winning 6-4, 6-1.
It was a dream start for Swiatek who got out to a flyer by taking the first three games of the set. An astounding opening return game, blasting multiple winners against the fourth-seeded American followed by an unreturned body serve provided that quick lead for the Pole.
Kenin stormed back with three on the bounce of her own. She finally got on the board with some good serving and then put the pressure on the Swiatek second serve with a backhand return winner and then forcing a double-fault out of the 19-year-old.
After a Swiatek hold for a 4-3 lead, the two traded breaks until a key tenth game. Kenin broke back to get the set back on serve, but it was the Pole who struck a forehand return winner to set up two set points. She would take the set off a backhand miss from Kenin and continued her astounding run of not having dropped a set in this tournament.
A Dream Realized
The American really hoped to up her level in this set. Despite a subpar opening set by her standards, she was right in the thick of things until the set ended. The bounce-back ability of the world number six was quick out of the gate to open the set with a break of serve after a forehand return winner.
However, she followed that up with a shaky service game to give the break right back to the Pole. Swiatek, who is world number 54, held for 2-1 as Kenin took a medical timeout for fresh tape on her left leg which has been strapped up heavily for most of the second week.
Despite the prolonged break in play, Swiatek did not miss a beat, breaking the Kenin serve once again. With the level the Pole was playing at, it really looked like there was no way back for the American especially with how badly she was struggling with the leg.
Another break of serve for Swiatek meant there was only one-way this would finish as the Pole would serve it out for the first title of her career.