As far as WTA 1000 events go, Iga Swiatek saved her best for last in 2023.

The Pole picked up her 16th career WTA title, and tour-leading fifth this year, on Sunday in Beijing with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Liudmila Samsonova in the final of the China Open. With the win, Swiatek becomes the first player since Serena Williams in 2014-15 to win five or more titles in back-to-back seasons.

After an earlier-than-expected exit last week in Tokyo, her first tournament since losing the world No. 1 ranking to Aryna Sabalenka in the aftermath of the US Open, Swiatek got back on the rails in her Beijing debut. She lost one set en route to her sixth WTA 1000 title (in a 6-7(8), 7-6(5), 6-1 victory over Caroline Garcia in the quarterfinals) and first this year; ended US Open champion Coco Gauff's 16-match winning streak in the semifinals, 6-2, 6-3; and toppled Samsonova, who upset Petra Kvitova, Jelena Ostapenko and Elena Rybakina en route to the final, in 69 minutes.

Swiatek's win in Beijing adds to titles she won this year at Roland Garros, Doha, Stuttgart and Warsaw. She had finished runner-up at two other WTA 1000 events, in Dubai and Madrid. She is also the fourth player to win the title at China Open in her tournament debut after Williams in 2004, Agnes Szavay in 2005 and Maria Kirilenko in 2007.


"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 afterwards. "You can always get better. Sometimes it's kind of pretty easy, but we tend to make it more complicated in our heads.

"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 US Open I just got back to basics and just worked really hard tennis-wise. I'll just continue to do that.

"For sure winning this trophy is something that will teach me kind of a lesson for the rest of my life."

Swiatek did not face a break point in Saturday's final, and broke Samsonova's serve four times to improve to 3-0 against her all-time. Earlier this season, Swiatek lost just one game to Samsonova in the third round in Dubai.

The match began with five straight holds before Samsonova double-faulted on the first break point of the match—and the world No. 22 decided the outcome of the vast majority of the match's points. Swiatek hit two winners, and a staggering zero unforced errors, in 16 games, as Samsonova racked up big numbers on both sides of the stat sheet: 18 winners and 26 unforced errors.


"You could feel that we are playing a final because it was a little bit tense, I would say," Swiatek said. "But I'm happy that I kind of adjusted to what Liudmila was playing. I wanted to really be consistent with what I wanted to do no matter how she's doing.

"I'm happy that I won because, for sure, this is really big for me. Winning this title is something that I never would have thought at the beginning of the tournament about. I'm pretty proud of myself."

After winning her first four WTA finals, Samsonova dropped to 0-3 this year, and 0-2 all-time at WTA 1000 level. She also finished runner-up to Jessica Pegula in Montreal this summer.

"I think I made a lot of good things this week," Samsonova said afterwards. "Today I think. [it] doesn't work so much what I wanted to do. I need to see the match, to see the match again, to see what I can do better.

"But for the week, it's something unbelievable. I didn't expect it, so great. I need to give her all the credits today because I think she shows all the experience that she has.

"Really, I think she just played better than me today. [It] was her day."