Doha | Swiatek sweeps up Qatar Open title


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Iga Swiatek looked every inch the Grand Slam champion that she is, as she swept aside Anett Kontaveit, 6-2 6-0, in the final of the Qatar TotalEnergies Open in Doha on Saturday, adding the WTA 1000 title to the championships she won in Rome last year and at Roland Garros in 2020.

Against Kontaveit I always had tough matches. I knew I was doing a great job and I was in the right mood, but I’m surprised of the result of today. I was just staying focus and is not easy because, during a match, you have different moments. Iga Świątek

It was a masterclass of power and all-court skill against a player who arrived in the Doha final at the top of her game.

Kontaveit, the 4th seed from Estonia, has reached more finals and won more matches than anyone on tour since the start of 2021, and this was her 9th final during that stretch, prevailing in 61 matches overall, including her current run of 9 wins that included the St Petersburg title a couple of weeks ago.

Swiatek, on the other hand, had taken out the top seed and World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in the quarter-finals, before getting past 6th-seeded Maria Sakkari from Greece in the last 4, both relatively easily in straight sets.

The Estonian had flattened the other red-hot player on tour, Dubai champion Jelena Ostapenko, in the semi-finals on Friday but she was not allowed to weave her winning web against the 7th-seeded Pole on Saturday.

Swiatek won a staggering 66 percent of points returning the Kontaveit serve, and saved 6 of the 7 break points she faced, 6 of which came in the first set.

In short, the 20-year old overwhelmed Kontaveit in 64 minutes to claim the title, which she dedicated to the people of Ukraine, using the occasion to show support for the country that shares a border with Poland.

“I want to show my support to all the people who are suffering in Ukraine,” Swiatek said. “Seeing those images is really emotional for me.

“I wouldn’t even imagine stuff happening like that in the country next to me.

“I hope everybody will be safe in the end.”

At times Anett Kontaveit, the World No 7, looked bewildered at Iga Swiatek’s pace in the Doha final, and won just 2 games

© Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

She took the first set 6-2 after breaking Kontaveit’s serve 3 times, before thrashing the Estonian 6-0 in less than half an hour in the second set, firing 5 aces on her way to the win.

Swiatek has now won her last 4 tour-level finals and, since her only runner-up finish on tour at Lugano 2019, the Pole has dropped just 11 games in the finals she has won.

“I’m pretty happy that I was composed and I stayed in the same shape I was for the whole tournament, because playing finals is a different feeling,” Swiatek said. “It’s always a little bit more stress.

“I knew that Anett is going to play well, because she’s shown consistency throughout the whole six months, I would say.

“I needed to put pressure on her, and I’m pretty happy that I did that well today.

“It’s so nice to have these kind of matches, where you don’t actually have problems with keeping the pace, and with staying aggressive, because, right now, I’m a more aggressive player, and I really love it, because it’s giving me a lot of confidence on and off court.

“It’s just making, sometimes, life on court easier.”

The 20-year-old is now 3-2 up against Kontaveit, having won their last 3 meetings, including at both Roland Garros and the US Open in 2021.

Having fallen behind an early break, Kontaveit looked to be back in the hunt when she slammed a forehand winner down the line to quickly break back for 2-2, but that proved to be her final click on the scoreboard in the match.

Swiatek snatched her break right back in the following game, then kept using aggressive returns to take control of points from the outset on Kontaveit’s serve.

The 7th seed calmly erased 2 break points before closing out the one-set lead in the 8th game.

There were almost no problems for Swiatek in the second, which she raced through in less than half an hour.

The impact on Kontaveit could be seen as the Estonian’s emotions overflowed at the sit-down after she went 0-3 down and, although she managed to keep the games close, there was no denying Swiatek’s power game as she stormed to the finish line.

Iga Swiatek, posing with the winner’s trophy and Anett Kontaveit, dedicated her win to the people of Ukraine

© Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

In the trophy ceremony, Kontaveit got her emotions in check, saying: “Overall I’m very happy and feel like my game is moving in the right direction.

“I think the results have reflected that in the last few weeks. Very pleased with that.

“Iga played a really, really good match. She put a lot of pressure on my serves. She was playing a really solid match.

“I think I was a little overwhelmed, maybe didn’t deal with my emotions as well as I would have liked. I mean, Iga was just great today.”

Swiatek thanked the Polish fans, who support her all around the world. “For sure I can see that every place I go there are many Polish people, which is always surprising.

“I’m learning how to use the fans powers in the best way.

“These tournaments [have] shown that I was able to get power from the crowd when I needed [it].“

After her triumph, Swiatek told reporters later: “Against Kontaveit I always had tough matches. I knew I was doing a great job and I was in the right mood, but I’m surprised of the result of today.

“I was just staying focus and is not easy because, during a match, you have different moments.”

Having won the title Doha, Swiatek will now take a short rest before heading to the United States with an eye on Indian Wells, the next WTA 1000 tournament up for grabs, which starts on Monday 7 March.

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