Tennis: Iga Swiatek lifts BNP Paribas Open
Poland's Iga Swiatek defeated Greece's Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-1 in the Indian Wells final on Sunday, moving up to second in the world rankings
INDIAN WELLS: Poland's Iga Swiatek defeated Greece's Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-1 in the Indian Wells final on Sunday, moving up to second in the world rankings.
Another windy day in the California desert made life difficult for both players, with the gusts adding to an uneven match riddled with nine service breaks.
Swiatek, 20, won six of those breaks, including two in a one-sided second set, before capturing his second consecutive WTA 1000 victory with a thunderous forehand winner.
Swiatek's fifth career victory comes after winning the French Open in 2020.
"It's pretty crazy because I wasn't expecting to be in that place (final) especially after playing so well in the previous tournament; I didn't know it was possible for me to play that well for that long," said Swiatek, winner of the WTA 1000 event in Doha in February. "It was a different match, for sure, because of the conditions.
"You always want to see the best final that's possible, but in these conditions it was pretty hard to, as I said, play tactically as I wanted, so in the end, I was just focusing on playing in."
Swiatek has now won her past two meetings with the Greek after losing her first three, with Sunday's victory extending her WTA match-win run to 11.
Sakkari advanced to the final by defeating defending champion Paula Badosa, but she was no match for the windy conditions and a determined Swiatek.
Swiatek will wake up on Monday as the new world number two, and while she admits it feels odd, she is already aiming for Ash Barty and number one.
"Right now it's too surreal to describe it, honestly," said Swiatek. "But for sure I want to go higher because I feel like getting the number one is closer and closer.
"For sure, Ash is one of the players that I want to look at."
Despite the defeat, Sakkari will be ranked third in the world on Monday, matching Stefanos Tsitsipas for the best position earned by a Greek player.
The final got off to a shaky start with four straight breaks of serve, but Swiatek was the first to adjust to the tough conditions, holding to go 3-2 up and breaking Sakkari to grab a one-set lead.
Sakkari never got comfortable in the competition. She maintained serve to begin the second set, but it was all Swiatek after that, as she swept five consecutive games.
"Obviously it wasn't my day," said Sakkari. "There's not much I can say about the way I played.
"Clearly it was windy. We were both struggling with our serves in the beginning of the match. (But the) wind is never an excuse because the wind is for both of us."
Edited - SportsAction / Inputs - Agency