No. 1 Iga Swiatek to face Ons Jabeur for US Open women's title

Top-seeded Swiatek completes comeback to reach US Open final (1:03)

After dropping the first set, Iga Swiatek storms back to beat Aryna Sabalenka, earning a spot in the US Open final. (1:03)

NEW YORK -- Iga Swiatek will face Ons Jabeur in the US Open women's final after the No. 1-ranked player came back to beat No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka in the second semifinal on Thursday night.

Swiatek grabbed the last four games, and 16 of the last 20 points, to beat Sabalenka 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

The first step for Swiatek to turn things around came when she headed to the locker room after the first set -- to use the bathroom and think about what to adjust on court.

"I needed to get it together,'' said Swiatek, a 21-year-old from Poland who already owns two trophies from the French Open's red clay, including one this year, but never had been past the fourth round on New York's hard courts.

Sabalenka, meanwhile, dropped to 0-3 in Slam semifinals for her career and 12-11 in three-setters this year. She broke for a 4-2 lead in the third set -- and 17 minutes later it was over.

"She was just going for it,'' said Sabalenka, who wore large blue mirrored sunglasses and a black cap pulled low to her news conference. "She was hitting every ball and putting me under pressure and playing really aggressively.''

Swiatek has emerged as a dominant figure in women's tennis this year, with a 37-match winning streak and six titles. If she can defeat Jabeur, Swiatek will become the first woman since Angelique Kerber to win two major championships in one season.

Jabeur, meanwhile, is headed to her second straight Grand Slam final after taking advantage of a shaky showing by Caroline Garcia to win their semifinal match at Flushing Meadows 6-1, 6-3.

The No. 5-seeded Jabeur, a 28-year-old from Tunisia, was the runner-up at Wimbledon in July and now will be the first African woman to participate in a final at the US Open in the professional era, which dates to 1968.

"Feels more real, to be honest with you, just to be in the final again. At Wimbledon, I was kind of just living the dream, and I couldn't believe it," Jabeur said after ending No. 17 Garcia's 13-match winning streak, which included a victory over 18-year-old American Coco Gauff in the quarterfinals. "Now just, I hope, I'm getting used to it. ... Now maybe I know what to do."

"After Wimbledon, [there was] a lot of pressure on me," Jabeur said following a win that took barely more than an hour, "and I'm really relieved that I can back up my results."

With four-time major champion Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in her guest box -- they traded thumbs-up signals at match's end -- Jabeur improved to 6-0 in semifinals this season and earned her tour-leading 92nd victory in all since the start of 2021. No. 91 came when she defeated Ajla Tomljanovic, who eliminated Serena Williams in the third round.

To Jabeur's surprise, and delight, she heard her quarterfinal victory over Tomljanovic on Tuesday was drawing viewers back home, even though it was on TV the same night as a Champions League game between Juventus and Paris St. Germain.

"In Tunisia, it's all about soccer," she said. "But people were not watching the game, they were watching my game, which is impressive to me."

That's part of the way in which she is changing views about tennis in her country -- and on a continent.

Since pro players were first admitted to major tennis tournaments, never had an African woman or Arab woman been to a Slam final until Jabeur accomplished that two months ago at Wimbledon, where she ended up losing to Elena Rybakina.

In 2020, at the Australian Open, she became the first Arab woman to reach the quarterfinals at a major. Last year produced all sorts of milestones: first Arab player to break into the top 10 of the men's or women's rankings; first Arab woman to win a WTA title.

"Definitely saying out loud what I want to do is part of me achieving things," said Jabeur, who dropped to her knees and let out a yell when the semifinal against Garcia ended, then followed that up by lying on her back in the middle of the court.

"I'm sure it's a lot of pressure on her shoulders," said Garcia, a 28-year-old from France. "But she looks like to be managing it really well."

On this 75-degree evening under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Jabeur paid attention to her coach's instruction to focus on going after Garcia's backhand and finished with 21 winners -- after one that was aided by a fortuitous bounce off the top of the net, Jabeur put up a hand to apologize, then blew a kiss to the sky -- and just 15 unforced errors.

She delivered eight aces. She went 4-for-4 on break chances and never faced a single one.

When Jabeur went up a break in the second to lead 3-1 merely 40 minutes in, the match was not yet won, but it might as well have been.

After a moment of silence to commemorate the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Garcia won the coin toss and chose to serve, which made sense when you consider that she leads the tour in aces in 2022 (although she hit just two on Thursday).

But Garcia got broken right away, thanks to four mistakes of various sorts: a netted forehand, a wide forehand, a long backhand and, most concerning and perhaps most reflective of nerves, what should have been an easy put-away volley she barely managed to make contact with and dumped into the bottom of the net.

It was a rather inauspicious and jittery start for Garcia, who hadn't lost a set at Flushing Meadows on the way to her debut in a Slam semifinal.

This was an extension of the lopsided series between two players who first began playing each other as juniors more than a decade ago. Including encounters as teens, Jabeur is now 7-0 against Garcia.

"Mentally," said Jabeur, who travels with a sports psychologist, "I was so ready."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.