BEIJING — World number two Iga Swiatek eased to a WTA Tour-leading fifth title this year by crushing unseeded Russian Liudmila Samsonova 6-2 6-2 in the China Open final to tighten her battle with Aryna Sabalenka for the year-end number one spot.
Swiatek shed tears of joy after her 69-minute masterclass, which left the four-times Grand Slam champion 465 points behind the top-ranked Sabalenka and with a big chance to leapfrog the Belarusian at the WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico.
The season finale, where the top eight singles players and doubles teams in the world face off, begins on October 29.
“I feel like this tournament will give me confidence for the rest of my career that there’s always ability, I mean, a chance to overcome and work on what you do or what you feel,” Swiatek said.
“You can always get better. Sometimes it’s kind of pretty easy, but we tend to make it more complicated in our heads.”
Swiatek said that after the US Open she put in a tremendous amount of effort to get her game humming – that hard work has now paid off.
“I’m really happy that I just focused on hard work. It kind of paid off – maybe not instantly, but I’m happy that after the US Open I just got back to basics and just worked really hard tennis-wise. I’ll just continue to do that,” Swiatek added.
“For sure winning this trophy is something that will, yeah, teach me kind of a lesson for the rest of my life.”
With that satisfying experience under her belt, Swiatek will head to the WTA Finals in Cancun with wind in her sails. With the year-end No.1 ranking on the line, she hopes she can keep the energy high.
“Cancun is really important tournament,” she said. “I want to get ready and also kind of continue the work I’ve been doing after US Open in terms of technique and what I want to improve on court.
“I’m going to spend two weeks home and I’m going to probably practice, like, eight days, and the rest are going to be days off.
“I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of time for me to do anything more. I’ll just focus on work and on the last tournament of the season.”
Beijing debutant Swiatek was handed the first break of the clash in the sixth game when Samsonova produced a double fault and the 22-year-old then wrapped up the opening set without committing a single unforced error.
Swiatek’s superb serve proved to be her biggest ally as she never faced a break point and raced ahead 4-1 in the second set before completing the win with ease for her 16th title overall as Samsonova made another error at the net.
French Open champion Swiatek also became the first player since American Serena Williams to claim five or more titles in successive seasons.
Williams managed the feat in 2014 and 2015.