Q. I’d like to know, are you impressed by Swiatek who lost only 23 games and no set in 12 sets? It’s like Nadal in the men. Is that something in a way that is shocking you or does it impress you at all?
SOFIA KENIN: Of course, she’s playing some great tennis, having great results. Petra also has not lost a set here. I mean, that obviously doesn’t mean anything if I’m playing well. Like I said, she’s playing really well. She got to the final. She’s had some great wins. I’m sure she has a lot of confidence and is super excited for the final. I’m hoping that with my experience from Melbourne, it will help me for Saturday’s final.
Q. You’ve been so self-assured this tournament. Do you ever suffer from nerves on a tennis court?
IGA SWIATEK: Well, I’m working with psychologist obviously, as I said in the other interviews. I’m dealing with my nerves pretty good. I feel like I’ve been so efficient and so focused for whole matches that I put a lot of pressure on my opponents. I’m not even nervous in second sets because I know it’s going to probably go my way. It’s going to be different in a final because I’m going to play much more experienced players. Yeah, I think it’s going to be tough match no matter who I’m going to play against. I will need to be on a different level, the higher level, even though I’m winning easily right now.
Q. About Daria, there are lots of players who have worked with sports psychologists at some point in their career. You did it early on in your career. What let you know this was going to be such an important part of your game and your development to have this mental person who is working and traveling with you, a different level of commitment than we see from most players?
IGA SWIATEK: That’s true. I mean, traveling, it was also new for me because when I worked with the other psychologists, they stayed in Warsaw. Basically that’s how Daria works. That’s her style of working. I’m really happy that she chose me to travel with because she has, like, many other players. She was also traveling with them, like with sailors or cyclists. So right now she’s focusing to me, and I’m really happy because she’s doing a great job. Actually, I don’t know how I made the decision when I was younger, but I always wanted to work with a psychologist because I had this belief that it’s like a big part of the game. But my parents, like, they weren’t as open to that as I was. Actually, I don’t know where that came from, to be honest (smiling).
Sofia Kenin’s essential match is, of course, the Australian Open final where she showed her mental strength with her incredible recovery in the third set from 2-2 0-40 down. Although she was the newbie at the beginning of the year, Kenin will be determined to make her experience and toughness count against a rookie today.
A must-watch Swiatek match is her wildly entertaining two set loss to Naomi Osaka in Toronto last August. After her 6-1 6-0 loss to Simona Halep at last year’s Roland Garros, it was her second match against a top 10 player and in it she proved to herself that her game worked against the very best. Both players had so much fun cracking outrageous winners and playing at such a high level that this match led to them becoming friends.
The big question mark today is how Swiatek will handle the occasion. We know that she can reduce so many quality players to being a spectator in this match, as she has done all week. However, it is really difficult to overstate her inexperience at all levels. This is just Swiatek’s 17th career WTA main draw and she has only ever reached one WTA final, which she lost last year in Lugano, Switzerland to No 89 Polona Hercog of Slovenia. Kenin, who will be looking to take advantage of all of that, will be just her fourth ever top 10 opponent.
In addition to that, Swiatek has been playing so well in Paris that only one player has won four games in a set against her. We also do not know how she will react if she is pushed by Kenin. There have been many first time slam finalists in recent years and normally they have played enough tennis for people to have a sense of how they will react to such an enormous moment in their lives. With Swiatek, we just have to wait and see.
Hello! Welcome to our coverage on day 14 of Roland Garros where we are finally down to just two matches. After 34 year-old Rafael Nadal and 33 year-old Novak Djokovic ensured that they will face of a record-extending 56th time on Sunday, today 19 year-old Iga Świątek and 21 year-old Sofia Kenin will contest their first ever meeting as professionals. A bit of a contrast there.
The pair’s route to this final could not have marked a greater contrast. Swiatek has demolished everybody in her path, starting with last year’s finalist Marketa Vondrousova in the first round. In the fourth round, she took things a step forward with a startling 6-1 6-2 win over top seed Simona Halep, who simply had no chance. Halep hit just two unforced errors in the first set – two! – yet she received a breadstick. Swiatek backed up that performance by handling two consecutive qualifiers with the loss of just seven games, demonstrating her ability to deal with the pressure of being the favourite.
Kenin has not had things so easily in Paris. She was pushed to three sets in four of her first five matches, but what was so impressive was how she took hold of those matches as her challenging opponents started to fly. The 3rd set scores in the fourth round and quarter-finals against Fiona Ferro and Danielle Collins are telling: 6-1 and 6-0. Against Petra Kvitova, she played one of the best matches of her career and produced her best tennis on the big points to win.
So, here we are. One of the most exciting attacking prospects in women’s tennis against an intelligent, resourceful and gutsy player who will make Swiatek’s life hell by constantly varying her strokes and rising to the big point. It will be fascinating to see which contrasting style wins.
Play is due to start at a little after 2pm BST.
at 8.22am EDT