Swiatek beats Sakkari to win Indian Wells, No. 2 ranking

Iga Swiatek defeated Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-1 on Sunday in an error-filled final to win the BNP Paribas Open.

Iga Swiatek, of Poland, holds her trophy after defeating Maria Sakkari, of Greece, in the women's singles finals at the BNP Paribas Open.   -  AP

Iga Swiatek defeated Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-1 on Sunday in an error-filled final to win the BNP Paribas Open.

Swiatek will rise from fourth to a career-best No. 2 in the world in Monday’s WTA Tour rankings, trailing top-ranked Ash Barty, who skipped Indian Wells.

“Right now, it’s too surreal to describe it, honestly,” Swiatek said. “But for sure I want to go higher because I feel like getting the No. 1 is closer and closer.”

Sakkari will move from sixth to No. 3, the rising Greek star’s highest ranking yet. She equals countryman Stefanos Tsitsipas, who reached No. 3 in the ATP Tour rankings.

“I’m very proud that myself and Stefanos have actually grown tennis in Greece,” Sakkari said. “Having two players in that ranking position is something huge for us.”

Swiatek lost each of the first three times she played Sakkari, all last year. Last month, the 20-year-old Polish player beat Sakkari in the semifinals at Doha and went on to win the title.

“Especially winning after playing so well in Doha is giving me a lot of confidence and kind of belief that I can do it because I wouldn’t think of myself as someone who’s ready to play two tournaments in a row and win it,” Swiatek said.

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Swiatek has five career titles, including the 2020 French Open. She's 5-0 in her last five finals, losing only a combined 16 games. Her new ranking equals the highest ever by a Polish player, matching Agnieszka Radwanska.

Gusty winds affected serves and shots by both players, who had seven double faults each. There were seven service breaks in the first set alone, with Swiatek holding twice. Sakkari held once to tie the set, 4-all.

“I kind of had to win ugly because I felt like sometimes the ball is not going the direction I want,” Swiatek said. “It was pretty hard to play with precision.”

Swiatek held to go up 5-4. Sakkari led 40-30 on her serve, but a double fault gave Swiatek her third break point, and she cashed in on Sakkari's netted backhand to take the set.

“She was actually hitting very deep and close to the lines. With the wind, it was tough for me," Sakkari said. “But I was not moving the way I wanted. I was not playing the way I was playing the last few days. I don’t think she played lights-out tennis. She played very solid. She did what she had to do to beat me.”

Swiatek broke twice in the second set for a 5-1 lead. She served out the match, winning on a forehand in the corner of the baseline.

Swiatek earned $1.2 million and improved her record to a WTA Tour-leading 20-3 this year, including 11 matches in a row.

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