Tagged in: women

No. 1 Iga Swiatek tops Ons Jabeur in women’s US Open final to win third major title

As good as she’s been this year, Iga Swiatek came to the US Open unsure of what to expect.

She complained that women use different, slightly lighter, tennis balls than men do at Flushing Meadows, where she’d never been past the fourth round. She was trying to grow accustomed to the noise and distractions, the hustle and bustle, of the Big Apple. And she arrived with a record of just 4-4 since her 37-match winning streak ended in July.

None of that matters now. Cementing her status as her sport’s new dominant figure by winning what is expected to be the last tournament of Serena Williams’ career, the No. 1-ranked Swiatek outplayed No. 5 Ons Jabeur 6-2, 7-6 (5) in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday to claim her first championship at the US Open and third Grand Slam title overall.

“It’s something that I wasn’t expecting, for sure. It’s also like a confirmation for me that the sky’s the limit,” said Swiatek, who is 55-7 in tour-level matches with seven trophies in 2022, both best in the WTA. “I’m proud. Also surprised little bit.”

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She acknowledged harboring concerns about the US Open after a couple of shaky showings at hard-court tune-up tournaments.

It turned out OK: She is the first top-seeded woman to earn the US Open since 23-time major champion Williams in 2014.

“I feel like on court, I can just do my job,” Swiatek said, “and I’m happy about it, that I kind of can make these doubts go away.”

Swiatek, like Jabeur, travels with a sports psychologist, and it took some fortitude to finish this one off. At 6-5 in the second set, Swiatek held her first championship point. Right before Jabeur served, Swiatek jogged over to the sideline to change rackets — an unusual choice at that moment.

When action resumed, Swiatek missed a backhand. That could have been tough to recover from. Indeed, Jabeur pushed things to the tiebreaker, which she then led 5-4. But Swiatek steeled herself, took the last three points and soon was accepting the silver trophy and a $2.6 million winner’s check, joking: “I’m really glad that is not in cash.”

The 21-year-old from Poland won the French Open for the second time in June and is the first woman since Angelique Kerber in 2016 to collect two major titles in a single season.

“She’s really set the bar very high. It’s great for our sport,” said Jabeur, a 28-year-old from Tunisia who will rise to No. 2 in the rankings on Monday.

She is the first African woman and first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam final and was participating in her second in a row. But she is 0-2 at that stage, being the runner-up at Wimbledon in July.

“Definitely, I’m not someone that’s going to give up,” said Jabeur whose support team wore black shirts with white writing that read “Yalla Habibi,” Arabic for “Let’s go, my love!” “I am sure,” she added, “I’m going to be in the final again.”

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Cris Cyborg to make 1st defense of Bellator title vs. Arlene Blencowe

Cris Cyborg is back, and her first Bellator title defense will ring in the promotion’s debut on a new network.

Cyborg will put her Bellator women’s featherweight title on the line versus Arlene Blencowe on Oct. 15 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, promotion officials revealed Friday.

The card will air in a Thursday night time slot on CBS Sports Network. Bellator had been on Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) since 2013.

Cyborg (22-2, 1 NC), ESPN’s No. 3-ranked pound-for-pound female fighter in the world, won the Bellator title in her last outing, stopping Julia Budd by fourth-round TKO in January.

The Brazilian knockout artist has won two consecutives after losing the UFC women’s featherweight title to Amanda Nunes at UFC 232 in December 2018. Cyborg, 35, departed the UFC after her contract expired last year. She is one of the most fearsome women’s MMA fighters of all time with 18 KO/TKO finishes in 22 pro victories.

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Blencowe (13-7) has won three straight and is coming off a unanimous decision win over UFC veteran Leslie Smith last November. The Australia native has just two MMA losses in the past five years, both to Budd. Blencowe, a 37-year-old boxing veteran, has seven KO/TKOs in 13 pro wins.

Bellator president Scott Coker also revealed Friday the main event for a card Oct. 29 at Mohegan Sun. Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima will move up to middleweight to fight Gegard Mousasi for the vacant middleweight title.

Lima (32-7) has won three straight and is a three-time Bellator welterweight champion. The 32-year-old Brazilian is tied for the most knockouts in Bellator history (9).

Mousasi (46-7-2) has won nine of his past 10, including five straight in the UFC before he left as a free agent in 2017. The 35-year-old Netherlands resident, a former Strikeforce and Dream champion, has been a perennial contender in multiple divisions for more than a decade.

In addition, Coker announced that a welterweight bout between Paul Daley and Derek Anderson will headline an Oct. 1 in Milan, Italy.

Bellator’s show in Paris on Oct. 10 — the first major MMA event in France since the country legalized the sport earlier this year — will be acceptable to have up to 5,000 fans in attendance. Michael Page vs. Ross Houston and Frenchman Cheick Kongo vs. Tim Johnson will be on the Paris card.

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