Swiatek Completes Sunshine Double With Miami Open Title

Iga Swiatek (photo: WTA Tour video)

MIAMI/WASHINGTON, April 3, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Two days shy of making her debut at No. 1 in the WTA Rankings, Iga Swiatek gave a thoroughly dominant performance and beautiful display of tennis by winning the Miami Open presented by Itaú women’s singles title with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over former No. 1 Naomi Osaka Saturday afternoon.

It was a brief title match – just an hour and 19 minutes – but the 20-year-old from Warsaw, Poland left a lasting impression on everyone who filled Hard Rock Stadium on a warm and humid South Florida spring day. Swiatek won the last seven games of the final and handed the 77th-ranked Osaka of Japan, who was appearing in her 11th career final, her first loss in a WTA title match since 2018.

Swiatek became the first player to sweep the first three WTA 1000 events in a season (Doha, Indian Wells and Miami) and the fourth woman to win the “Sunshine Double” – joining Steffi Graf (1994 and 1996), Kim Clijsters (2005) and Victoria Azarenka (2016) – by winning Indian Wells and Miami in the same season. She’s also the youngest player to win the Sunshine Double.

By winning the Miami Open title, Swiatek extended her winning streak to 17 straight – which included straight-set wins over Viktorija Golubic, Madison Brengle, No. 14 seed Coco Gauff, No. 28 seed Petra Kvitova, No. 16 seed Jessica Pegula and Osaka – and she’s also garnered 20 consecutive sets. Swiatek also improved to 6-1 in WTA finals and she’s also won 12 straight sets in finals.

Although Osaka got a seven-deuce, four-ace hold to begin the final and extended the lead to 2-1 with a big backhand down-the-line winner, it was Swiatek who later prevailed. Despite serving under 40 percent, she did not face a break point during the 53-minute opening set. Swiatek gained break points in three of Osaka’s service games and converted one of five in winning the opening set 6-4.

Swiatek hit 10 winners off the ground, while Osaka hit 14 – seven of which were aces. It was the 19th straight set the Polish star had won.

Then, Swiatek opened up a double-break 3-0 lead to start the second set and it was clearly evident that she was in cruise control in all facets of her game, both physically and mentally. Swiatek held her second service game to extend her lead to 4-0, then broke Osaka for the third straight time in the set for an insurmountable 5-0 lead. In her final service game, Swiatek quickly gained a championship point at 40-15 and won when Osaka sailed a second-shot forehand long.

By the end of the match, Swiatek had hit three aces and 21 winners, won 76 percent (19 of 25) of her first-serve points and 67 percent (14 of 21) of her second-serve points. She did not face any break points on her serve and outpointed Osaka 64-43. Swiatek broke Osaka four times in 10 tries and the four-time major champion finished with seven aces and 17 overall winners but committed 29 unforced errors. Osaka won just eight points during the second set.

“I’m pretty tired, honestly,” Swiatek said during an on-court interview before the trophy ceremony. “These weeks were so intense. I didn’t really know if I was going to be able to keep up with the streak that I have – it’s amazing for me that I could show mental toughness because my whole life I thought I can do more, and sometimes I was losing and I didn’t even know why. Right now, this season, I feel like everything clicked. I’m very happy.”

During the trophy ceremony, even in defeat, Osaka managed to remain upbeat and congratulated Swiatek on her achievement. “I was think about when we had dinner in Australia,” she recalled. “Watching your journey is incredible. I hope you continue having fun.”

Looking back on Swiatek’s incredible month of March, which began by winning the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and concluded with her third straight WTA 1000 title at Miami, she said before the final she’s gained confidence and not felt pressure from winning so many consecutive matches.

Swiatek’s streak of success – 17 straight victories – is the longest winning streak on the WTA Tour since Osaka won 23 consecutive matches between 2020 and 2021.

“My body feels great, which is, for me, I want to see where my limit is and also how it’s going to cope,” Swiatek said during one of her news conferences in Miami this week. “I always felt pretty confident with my body. My mental game also is on point, because I feel like I’m using this streak, and it’s not like something that is pushing me down. So, for sure it gets, like I get tired and I have to work through that, but it’s just being like mentally tired. It’s not something that I haven’t had.

“So, I feel like I can even use the experience I had from last year.”

During the winning streak, Swiatek moved up in the WTA Rankings to No. 2. Now, with the sudden retirement of World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, it means that Swiatek will be the next No. 1 on Monday when Barty’s name is removed by her request.

“Basically, it was always important for me to physically be able to be stronger than my opponents,” Swiatek said. “Right now, it became kind of obvious that I’m gonna be strong and I’m gonna run to everything. When I was younger, I had to a little bit force myself to do that, but I got used to it. Right now, I feel like pretty confident it’s giving me a lot of skills. It’s great.”

And what does becoming No. 1 mean to Swiatek?

“Before the tournament … I thought it was going to happen a different way,” Swiatek said following her title win against Osaka. “I don’t know if I actually deserve it. Right now, maybe I’m going to believe it a little bit more. This tournament was really tough. Winning this tournament is going to give me such huge confidence. It gives me trust that I can keep going – no matter if I’m tired or it something is off. I can just play. I’m really happy about that.”

Isner completes Sunshine Double with different partners

While Iga Swiatek was completing a “Sunshine Double” by winning singles titles at Indian Wells and Miami in the same year, John Isner earned a “Sunshine Double,” as well – in doubles and with different partners. After Isner won the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last month teamed with fellow American Jack Sock, on Saturday he won the Miami Open partnered with Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.

In their first tournament together, Isner and Hurkacz beat No. 6 seeds Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Neal Skupski of Great Britain, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

“It certainly feels good, but I partnered up well,” said Isner, who along with Hurkacz received a wild card entry into the doubles draw. He’s just the second man to complete the “Sunshine Double” with different partners and first since Jakob Hlasek in 1989.

“It’s a pleasure playing with Hubi,” Isner added. “He does so many things os well as we know, and he’s got so much doubles skill also. It’s so much fun for me.”

Added Hurkacz: “I think John is the hottest doubles player on Tour right now. It definitely was a fun week. Playing with John is such a pleasure so we had a great time.”

En route to winning the Miami Open title, Isner and Hurkacz beat three different Grand Slam title-winning teams: Kevin Krawietz/Andreas Mies, Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury, Thanasi Kokkinakis/Nick Kyrgios. They prevented Koolhof and Skupski from winning their fourth ATP Tour doubles title of the season.

By the numbers

Iga Swiatek became just the ninth woman to reach the singles finals of both Indian Wells and Miami in the same year. She follows Monica Seles, Steffi Graf, Serena Williams, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka.

Coincidentally, all of them became Grand Slam champions and all were or would become World No. 1.

• Looking back, Iga Swiatek won all 12 sets she played during the Miami Open – covering six matches – and lost more than four games only once (in her semifinal victory against Jessica Pegula). Her 26 games dropped for the entire tournament were fewest en route to winning the title since Martina Hingis in 2002.

“Quotable …”

“She just did a remarkable job of handling the occasion. I keep waiting for the 20-year-old to maybe get nervous, maybe get tired physically or emotionally, but she came out of the gates aggressive – she was dictating play. …

“She was so clutch on this entire swing, these last six weeks. To see her keep getting better and better in these matches, I think that was the most impressive thing for me.”

Lindsay Davenport, Hall of Famer and Tennis Channel analyst, commenting on Iga Swiatek’s Miami Open title victory.