Iga Swiatek poses for photographers after defeating Maria Sakkari during the women's final of the BNP Paribas Open in California on Sunday. AFP
Swiatek's fifth career title was her second in as many tournaments after her triumph in Doha last month, and pushed her WTA match win-streak to 11.
It also ensured the 20-year-old from Poland, who shot to prominence with her victory at Roland Garros in 2020, will climb two spots to supplant Barbora Krejcikova at number two in the rankings behind Australian Ashleigh Barty on Monday.
"I'm really overwhelmed and honestly my mind is blown," Swiatek said, explaining that coming into the tournament she didn't think it was "realistic" to think she could maintain the level that saw her win Doha for a second straight tournament.
Iga Swiatek is congratulated by Maria Sakkari. AFP
"I wouldn't think of myself as someone who's ready to play two tournaments in a row and win it," she said. However, now that she's followed Agnieszka Radwanska as the only Polish players to reach number two in the world, she's aiming even higher. "I feel like getting the number one is closer and closer," she said.
Greece's Sakkari, who came into the tournament ranked sixth in the world and also had a chance to get to number two with a victory, will rise to a career-high third.
Both players struggled to find a rhythm on another breezy day in the California desert, where their first set featured six breaks of serve in what Swiatek called "crazy" conditions.
"For sure you could see that we are, at the beginning, a little bit stressed, and the wind is also not helping," Swiatek said. "But I'm pretty glad that I played better and better every game, and I managed to somehow find little bit of balance even in these conditions.
"It was pretty hard to actually play the tactics that I wanted because of the conditions. But I wanted just to stay consistent and really solid because that's the most important thing when the ball is going, you know, in weird directions."
Trailing 5-4 in the first, Sakkari led 40-30 but sent two backhands into the net to give Swiatek a set point, which the Greek saved with forehand winner.
Sakkari came up with a service winner to save another set point, then double faulted to give Swiatek a third chance, the Pole taking the set when Sakkari stroked a backhand into the net.
Maria Sakkari returns a shot to Iga Swiatek during the women's singles finals. AP
With a set in hand, Swiatek dominated in the second. Although she couldn't convert two break points in the second game as Sakkari made it 1-1, Swiatek roared through the next six games to close it out in 80 minutes and remain unbeaten in five career WTA finals.
Sakkari's step forward
Sakkari fell to 1-4 in finals, her only title coming in Rabat in 2019. But she said she leaves the tournament with increased confidence.
"I really believe I took a step forward this week, even though I lost today," she said. "I'm disappointed. I'm not going to hide that. I'm very disappointed I did not win today. But there are a lot of positive things that I'll take with me."
That includes joining Stefanos Tsitsipas as the only Greek players to be ranked third in world. "When I think about it, I can't believe there's only two girls above me right now," she said. "I'm very proud that myself and Stefanos have actually grown tennis in Greece. Having two players in that ranking position is something huge for us."
Greece's Sakkari triumphed 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 to end Badosa's bid to become the first woman since Martina Navratilova in 1990-91 to win back-to-back Indian Wells titles.
The 26-year-old Haddad Maia beat a top-ranked player for the first time to become the first Brazilian woman to advance to the quarterfinal of a WTA 1000 tournament.
The Polish 20-year-old has now become only the fourth — and youngest — player to win the "Sunshine Double" of Indian Wells and Miami in the same year following Steffi Graf, Kim Cljisters and Victoria Azarenka.
Facing seventh-seeded Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, the unseeded American was broken eight times on Court Philippe Chatrier and lost 6-3, 6-1. Jabeur won 15 of 16 points on Pera’s second serve.
A draw in the final round proved enough for Grandmaster (GM) Aravindh Chithambaram of India to become one of only two players to win back-to-back championships in the history of the Dubai Open Chess Tournament.
His Highness Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, graced the Vice President’s Jiu-Jitsu Cup with his presence as he crowned the champions of the tournament. The highly anticipated event was held over the weekend at the Shabab Al-Ahli Club in Dubai, captivating a large