WTA

'Keep going' – Swiatek scorches to Miami Open glory and salutes inspiration Osaka

By Sports Desk April 02, 2022

Iga Swiatek scored a sensational win against Naomi Osaka in the Miami Open final and predicted it would mark "the start of a great rivalry".

A 6-4 6-0 victory for Swiatek means the new WTA number one has won three consecutive WTA 1000 titles, becoming the first player to do so at the beginning of a season.

Saturday's success sealed the 'sunshine double' as the 20-year-old captured the Indian Wells and Miami titles back to back, becoming the youngest player to achieve that feat, and only the fourth in history, after Steffi Graf, who did it twice, Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka.

Addressing Osaka, Swiatek said: "I wanted to say I'm pretty glad we could play this match, and I think it's the start of a great rivalry.

"You're really an inspiration and this sport is better with you, so keep going."

Osaka is battling her way back into the sport after documenting her struggles with mental health and depression, and her ranking stood at 77 before this tournament.

She was reduced to tears in Indian Wells after being heckled by a spectator, and the Japanese star, a former WTA number one, referenced that incident in a post-match speech after losing to Swiatek.

Thanking her support team, Osaka said they were "the ones who keep pushing me forward after the things that happened two weeks ago – they're the rock that stays by my side".

Although Swiatek beat her resoundingly in the final, these two appear to be close allies, with a meal they enjoyed together in Australia in January 2020 having sparked a friendship.

"I want to congratulate Iga," said Osaka. "I was just thinking yesterday about when I had that dinner with you in Australia, and watching your journey is really incredible, and I hope you continue having fun. Apparently we're tied 1-1 now."

Osaka, who beat Swiatek in Toronto three years ago in their only past meeting, said her conqueror was "an incredible, amazing person", and assured her own supporters she had been having "a lot of fun".

"I hope I can keep working hard and get more opportunities to be in a situation like this again," Osaka added. "Just to be in the final means a lot to me."

That is both pertinent and refreshing given Osaka's future in tennis has appeared in doubt during the past year.

Swiatek, meanwhile, goes from strength to strength. From her French Open final triumph in October 2020 to this latest win, she has won each of the six finals she has contested. Across the last four, Swiatek has won four 6-0 'bagel' sets.

Doing the Indian Wells and Miami double, after previously taking the Doha title this year, shows Swiatek to be a worthy number one.

"I didn't think that was possible," she told Amazon Prime, assessing her back-to-back wins in America. "I'm trying to see what my limits are, and when I was coming from Indian Wells, I said to my coach, 'Did you ever have a situation like that where a player plays the final at Indian Wells and has to play the next match in three days?'. He said that I shouldn't worry and we can do it."

Swiatek's winning streak stands at 17 matches, her record for the season is 26-3, and she has won 20 consecutive sets. Her new number one status will be confirmed on Monday, when the newly retired Ash Barty is taken off the WTA list, and Swiatek hopes to stay there.

"We're going to see. The end of the season is still a long way," she said. "I hope I'm going to keep doing well with the pressure."

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