NEW YORK — Iga Swiatek is still only 21 years old, but she’s shown startling consistency this year. During a 37-game winning streak, she won her second major at Roland Garros and WTA 1000s in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami and Rome.
She’s trying to become the first player since Serena to win seven titles in a single year – and that was eight years ago, when Williams also became the last No. 1 to win that title.
Swiatek took another step at the US Open on Saturday. She defeated American Lauren Davis 6-3, 6-4 in a third round match. But it was tougher than the goal line indicated.
“I couldn’t find my rhythm today,” Swiatek said in her on-court interview. “She played pretty smart. In the end I’m pretty happy I was able to put balls in.
“I just try to enjoy every game, even if I’m not perfect.”
However, in the summer hard-court season, Swiatek won only four out of seven games.
She came out firing against Davis, hitting nine winners (two aces) in the first two games, the second a break from Davis’ serve. That offense, combined with her usual flawless defense, punctuated by her signature squats and some screeching slides, was a lot for Davis. Before serving at 2-5, Davis called the coach, who checked her temperature and blood pressure.
Swiatek won the first set when a 108-mile bid was not returned.
Davis came back in the second and won the first three games. Swiatek got their first game after a grueling five-two affair that left both players breathless. Davis saved three break points in the next game and eventually held.
Swiatek broke back to get 3-4 and back on serve. Davis lost the last five games of the game. Swiatek only converted three out of 14 breakpoints.
This matches Swiatek’s best result at the US Open, her 2021 run. She remains undefeated against players ranked outside the top 100 in Grand Slam play (15-0). She has won 53 games this season and is already nearing the most recent standard, 57, set by Ashleigh Barty three years ago.
Davis, in her 10th main draw at the US Open, achieved her best performance in a major by reaching the third round. The last (and only other) time she faced a world No. 1, she played a heroic match, losing 15-13 in the third set to Simona Halep at the 2018 Australian Open. Davis is now 11-15 for the year.
Swiatek rose to No. 1 in the rankings back in April after Barty announced her retirement. The past five months have given her a greater appreciation for Serena’s staying power over the years.
“In this situation,” she said, “I know how difficult it is sometimes to find balance and actually focus on the right things. I think she did very well. I have great respect because one of my goals is to be consistent throughout my career and stay in the top 10 for a long, long time.
“She was No. 1 for a long, long time, so it’s pretty crazy. I’m sure I understand a little better now how much work she put into it.”
Swiatek meets German Jule Niemeier in the fourth round. A quarterfinalist at Wimbledon earlier in the summer, Niemeier defeated Zheng Qinwen 6-4, 7-6(5) to advance to the round of 16 in her tournament debut. At No. 108, Niemeier beat Zheng with 22 wins, nearly doubling the rising Chinese star’s 12.