The 2020 season has been like no other in tennis. This year’s Baseline Awards look at the standout performers and moments during an unusual year. (Photos: Getty Images)

The week before he won the 1997 French Open for his first tour-level title, a 66th-ranked Gustavo Kuerten won an ATP Challenger title, providing what would be the perfect boost of confidence heading into Roland Garros.

Only three years ago, Jelena Ostapenko rode a 14-4 record on clay—compiled between qualifying and main-draw matches, as well as a runner-up finish in Charleston—to surprise success at the French Open, as she made the Grand Slam the site of her first WTA title.

Before the 2020 edition of Roland Garros, world No. 54 Iga Swiatek played at the Premier 5 event in Rome—and lost her opening match to qualifier Arantxa Rus.

Needless to say, it wasn’t optimal preparation for the 19-year-old, heading into a Grand Slam. And right off the bat, Swiatek would have to face the No. 15 seed and last year’s runner-up, Marketa Vondrousova.

That proved to be no problem for Swiatek, as she pulled off the upset in straight sets.

Continuing her strong play in her next two matches, Swiatek set up a fourth-round encounter with Simona Halep, the top seed and heavy favorite for the title. It was a rematch of their round-of-16 contest in 2019, when Halep only dropped one game to her young foe.

This time, Swiatek turned the tables on the 2018 French Open champ, losing only three games to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

The Baseline Awards:

The Baseline Awards: Breakthrough performance


After getting past qualifiers in the next two rounds, Swiatek was through to only her second WTA final. In the final, she’d face Sofia Kenin, the young American who made a major breakthrough of her own earlier in the year with her victory at the Australian Open.

Though this was their first encounter as professionals, the two met in 2016 at the Roland Garros girls’ event in the third round—a match Swiatek won in straight sets. In this match, Kenin won four games in the opener, only the second time all tournament that Swiatek had dropped that many games in a set. The second kept more to the dominant tone she established, as she raced through it, 6-1.

Swiatek came close to making it a singles-doubles sweep in Paris as she and Nicole Melichar advanced to the semifinals. While she couldn’t pull off that feat, Poland’s first-ever Grand Slam singles champion still managed to join Kuerten and Ostapenko as players who joined the winners’ circle with unforgettable runs in Paris behind a performance for the ages.