1st place on Saturday Iga Swiatek from Poland takes over the No. 5 Ons Jabeur from Tunisia. If Jabeur wins, she will become the first African woman in the Open era to win a Grand Slam singles title. If Swiatek prevails, it will be her third major title after winning two French Open crowns, one in 2020 and one earlier this year. So…who will win? We asked our experts:
What can Jabeur do to defeat Swiatek?
Alexandra Stevenson: Jabeur can do whatever she wants. Her slice game – the exceptional array of tennis acumen she displays with her shots – will decide if she can win on Saturday. Or will Swiatek’s athletic game ultimately defeat Jabeur’s discs and dice? Jabeur won with a low service percentage. This is a testament to the open door in women’s tennis today.
Cliff Drysdale: Jabeur needs to get a very high percentage of first serves to avoid having her second serve decimated. She’ll also need to use her drop shots and resourceful play to keep Swiatek from finding a rhythm.
Luke Jensen: Jabeur can be a tremendous disruptor! The multi-layered tactical approach, throwing many different spins and tempos, and Jabeur’s signature drop shots will help her play the match Swiatek doesn’t want to play.
Tom Hamilton: If Jabeur is to win this, she must do it in straight sets. Twice Swiatek has lost a set at this year’s US Open, and twice she has pulled it back to win in three. She is the master of endurance tennis. So Jabeur needs to step on the gas from the start and target Swiatek with her spot-on serve (she has 34 aces to date, only four missing from the tournament lead). Qinwen Zheng, who has 38 on the clock and also won 73% of the points on her first serve if it landed right) and didn’t give her a moment to think or defend. This must be done quickly. Jabeur would have learned from that painful Wimbledon final in which she sprinted 6-3 ahead only to lose in three games.
D’Arcy Maine: Jabeur has been open about how badly she wanted to win the title at Wimbledon and now that she’s been so close to a big title before she has a much better understanding of what she needs to do and what she needs to do in a Grand Slam final expected . After Thursday’s win, she said she needed to keep her emotions in check and stick to the game plan her coach laid out for her. If she can, she will continue the absolutely serving clinic she is laying out against them Caroline Garcia (She had eight aces and didn’t face a single break point), victory will be within reach.
Aishwarya Kumar: Swiatek has had slow starts throughout this tournament, losing serve early (and losing the opener twice). She has lost 16 service games in the last three rounds depending on her return skills to fight her way back to wins.
Jabeur should capitalize on her shaky start, pushing her up and down the court with her slices, her drop shots and her precise angles. Then, once she has a line-up, Jabeur should keep the pressure up early in the second set, picking up free points on her first serve (she’s landed 34 aces this tournament) and not giving Swiatek a break chance. Swiatek has worked his way out of really difficult situations in the last couple of laps, including coming back after a 2-4 break in set number three Arina Sabalenkathus serving really well against the world No. 1 would be crucial for Jabeur.
What can Swiatek do to defeat Jabeur?
Stevenson: Swiatek fought hard to get to the final. She may be No. 1 – but here at the US Open, she’s had to adjust her forehand to get used to the speed of the court with her far western grip and the women’s lighter regular balls. She fought well and found the moments to get to the final.
dry valley: Swiatek has to wait for chances to hit groundstroke winners. She has made more mistakes than usual through haste.
Jensen: Expect the unexpected. The ability to focus on identifying the various changes Jabeur will throw at them will be key.
Maine: It was an interesting run for Swiatek. Unlike clay, her preferred and most dominant surface, New York’s hard court had moments of struggle and she had more unforced errors than winners in every single match she played.
Still, what really impresses Swiatek is her mental determination and her ability to make adjustments during the game. She doesn’t get unduly upset, even when dropping a set, and that has given her increasing confidence throughout the tournament. That mental strength could end up being their biggest asset against Jabeur’s varied game. She’ll need to keep finding answers and relying on her strong return ability against Jabeur’s powerful serve if she wants to win her third major title on Saturday.
Hamilton: Luckily, Swiatek’s returns were excellent and she has to catch Jabeur’s serve early. If she can counter Jabeur’s serve from the start and hold her own, she’ll make Jabeur uncomfortable.
She can also draw on the experience of two Grand Slam titles, including the French Open this year. That experience in an environment like this is invaluable, but she also needs to find the perfect balance of trusting her own abilities and questioning herself enough to motivate herself to fight harder.
“Maybe I’m the kind of person who will never trust himself. I don’t care,” Swiatek said earlier this week. “It’s not like it’s something negative for me. Certainly it’s not nice to have doubts, but I also find it quite motivating to actually try to get better and find new skills to get as close to confidence as possible.”
Kumar: Swiatek has to start strong. She can’t afford to lose service games early – Jabeur is very good at capitalizing on that kind of sloppy play. Swiatek has to serve very well early in the game. Then she must do what she does best: come back safely.
Swiatek has broken serve in 35 of the 60 games she played in New York, averaging 58%. This is what she excels at. In their last meeting in Rome, she broke Jabeur’s serve five times to win the match in straight sets (6-2, 6-2). Jabeur has since improved her service game so it won’t be that easy this time but she’s an incredible returnee so she really needs to push Jabeur during her service games.
Who do you think will win?
Stevenson: For me, Jabeur wins. Your low slice jumps off the lightning fast spot. If she does that, she will disrupt Swiatek’s rhythm.
dry valley: Swiatek should win. Her confidence is rising and she escaped a trap against Sabalenka which gave her a second chance.
Jensen: Jabeur is my choice. Swiatek plays very tightly, especially in a high-pressure game like a grand final. Jabeur seems to have learned a lot from the Wimbledon final in terms of handling the big moment. I know Swiatek has won two Majors but she doesn’t like the balls and can get negative when things aren’t going well.
Hamilton: I think Swiatek will win her second Slam this year. Her finals record is ridiculous and if she can reach the level she achieved earlier in the year with 37 straight wins, it will take a monumental effort to topple her. Jabeur obviously has what it takes to win on Saturday but I think Swiatek’s experience will prevail and she will win in straight sets. Swiatek doesn’t lose in the final either – she wins her last nine.
Maine: Jabeur. A woman on a mission all fortnight in New York, she was almost clinical heading to the finals. Having played in a Grand Slam final before, she knows what emotions she will feel and, more importantly, how to manage those feelings. Jabeur beat Swiatek in straight sets in their last encounter on the hard court in Cincinnati in 2021 and is oozing confidence after a statement win over Garcia. It just feels like the momentum is on Jabeur’s side and this is her title to win.
Kumar: That’s what I said at the start of the tournament and I’m sticking to it now: Ons Jabeur. The rivalry between Jabeur and Swiatek will keep us busy for years to come, so it won’t be easy for Jabeur (their head-to-head victory is 2-2). But she’s in a hot streak right now, making back-to-back Grand Slam finals, and if there’s anyone who can stop Swiatek, it’s Jabeur. The slice, the spot on first serve and the efficient way she adapts in difficult situations (returning from a serve against an American player). Shelby Rogers) will help her get her first big trophy next Sunday.