Slate bloomer versus high-flyer, cheerful versus brooding, tactician versus attacker: in the final of the US Open between Ons Jabeur and Iga Swiatek, from a sporting point of view, two worlds collide. And as if the tennis players wanted to underline this, both made it into the final on Saturday (10:00 p.m., live on Eurosport) in New York in very different ways. While Wimbledon finalist Jabeur saved a few strengths in her semi-final victory in just 66 minutes, world number one Swiatek had to fight hard for her dream of the title.
In the end, however, the Pole won 3: 6, 6: 1, 6: 4 against Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka on Friday night and prepared for an even tougher match against Jabeur from Tunisia. "I'm sure it will be a very physical game. She has good shots, is very solid from the baseline," said Swiatek after her 56th victory this year: "I have to be careful."
Swiatek comes into play as the slight favorite at Arthur Ashe Stadium - also because of her still flawless final record in Grand Slam tournaments: After the two finals on clay at the French Open in 2020 and 2022, she was able to lift the trophy. Jabeur, on the other hand, lost her first major final on grass at Wimbledon two months ago to Jelena Rybakina of Kazakhstan.
This defeat “really hurt,” Jabeur admitted after the clear 6-1, 6-3 win over Frenchwoman Carolina Garcia. The 28-year-old came onto the pitch in a shirt that read "Face Your Fears". "Losing a final is one of them," said Jabeur, who feels ready for the big coup this time: "Now I probably know what to do in a final."
"Minister of Happiness"
She wants to be the first African and Arab player in the professional era (since 1968) to win a Grand Slam title - for herself and for the region. Jabeur has long been a heroine in Tunisia. In sports bars there, the televisions are currently switching from Champions League football to tennis, Jabeur reported: "That impresses me." After Wimbledon, the national post office issued a stamp with her in a winning pose, and the President presented her with the Order of Merit.
In her homeland, she is also called the "Minister of Happiness". “An Ons Jabeur needs relaxation to play good tennis,” said national coach Barbara Rittner. Jabeur has only been really successful since 2019, when it "clicked" for her. "I was just fed up with being thrown out in the first lap." Since then, she has always encouraged herself - with success.
This is a big difference to Swiatek, who, despite great success, is always accompanied by self-doubt at a young age. "It's definitely not nice, but I also find it very motivating," said the 21-year-old, who, unlike Jabeur, has an offensive style of play: "On the pitch I'm aggressive, stubborn and like to dominate."
The duel of opposites promises excitement in any case, after four previous games it is 2:2. "It's going to be a great fight," predicted Swiatek.