Poland’s Iga Swiatek is all but unbeatable these days.
On Sunday afternoon at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the 20-year-old baseliner extended her winning streak to 11 straight matches, defeating No. 6 seed Maria Sakkari, 6-4, 6-1 to claim the 2022 BNP Paribas Open championship and her fifth career tour-level title.
The No. 3 seed becomes the first Pole to raise the trophy in Indian Wells, and the first from her homeland to ascend to No. 2 in the world rankings since countrywoman Agnieszka Radwanska in 2012. She now owns a tour-best 20 match wins on the season.
Since dropping three consecutive matches to Sakkari in 2021, Swiatek, the 2020 Roland Garros champion, has now claimed their last two encounters, including a 6-4, 6-3 decision en route to the Doha title last month.
“We already started a pretty cool rivalry,” said Swiatek. “I think it’s going to last for, like, 10 more years. I’m sure we’re going to play many more finals.”
“It’s pretty crazy. I wasn’t expecting to be in this place, especially after playing so well in my previous tournaments. I didn’t know it was possible for me to play that well for that long.”
The matchup got off to a nervy start, with four straight service breaks. Swiatek eventually found her rhythm and, with Sakkari serving to stay in the opening set at 4-5, forced a backhand error to grab some momentum.
There were a combined 10 double faults in the first set alone, five for each player.
The high-risk, high-reward game that had served Sakkari so well in wins over defending champion Paula Badosa, 17th seed Elena Rybakina, Daria Saville, 27th seed Petra Kvitova and Katerina Siniakova, seemed to abandon her at times. She repeatedly found herself on her heels, pushed back from the baseline by Swiatek’s unrelenting ground game. She was broken in the fourth and sixth games of the second set.
With Sakkari serving at 1-5, 30-40, Swiatek hammered a forehand winner down the line to seal the one-hour, 20-minute final, tossed her racquet skyward, then headed to embrace her coach, Tomasz Witkorowski, and her sports psychologist, Daria Abramowicz.
“Even though today wasn’t my day, this tournament is going to have a very special place in my heart,” said Sakkari, who will rise to No. 3 by reaching the final, matching her countryman Stefanos Tsitsipas’ career-best.
“Today was pretty crazy because of the conditions,” said Swiatek, who capitalized on six of 11 break-point opportunities.
Coming into this year’s tournament, Swiatek had won just two career matches in Indian Wells. Now she’s the champion.
“I was talking with my coach and I was saying, ‘Okay, maybe in a few years I’ll get how to play here and how to adjust to the conditions,’ so I’m really overwhelmed. Honestly, my mind is blown.”