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French Open: Iga Swiatek beats Coco Gauff in the Paris final

Iga Swiatek returns a ball to Coco Gauff in the 2022 French Open final
Iga Swiatek is only the fifth women’s number one to win Roland Garros in the last 25 years
Events: May 22 – June 5 Venue: Roland Garros, Paris
Cover: Live text and radio commentary of selected matches on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sport’s website and app

Top seed Iga Swiatek underscored why she was the French Open hot favorite by beating Coco Gauff in straight sets to win her second Grand Slam title.

Swiatek, 21, beat the American teenager 6-1, 6-3 to record her 35th straight win – making it the longest WTA streak of this century.

Denying a first major singles final, Gauff, 18, got off to a nervous start.

Swiatek, who also won Roland Garros in 2020, took full advantage of that and won their sixth consecutive title.

Swiatek fought back after collapsing in the second set to win the 56th of their last 58 sets.

She also maintained her winning streak in the finals, extending that record to nine straight.

As the clouds darkened and thunder rumbled overhead, Swiatek claimed two championship points, earning the first when Gauff hit a long forehand.

After a warm hug with Gauff, Swiatek rushed off the pitch to hug her team in the stands – and Polish footballer Robert Lewandowski, who was watching on his day off from Nations League duty.

“Two years ago, winning this title was something amazing and could never have been expected,” said Swiatek, who ended her victory speech to convey a message of support to Ukraine after Russia’s invasion.

“This time I had worked hard to get here and did everything I could even though the pressure was on. The pressure was great, but I made it.”

The celebrations were in stark contrast to the sight of Gauff sitting alone in her chair, distraught, and bursting into tears before pulling a towel over her head.

“I am super proud of myself and I feel a lot of emotions. A mix of happiness and sadness,” said the 18th seed.

“I will use this experience and hopefully learn from it and get better.”

Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek
Coco Gauff wants to win a Grand Slam doubles title on Sunday and play alongside fellow American Jessica Pegula

Swiatek crowns its dominance with a Grand Slam title

Since Serena Williams was in her prime, there hadn’t been a favorite for a Grand Slam title in women’s singles as strong as Swiatek.

In a stunning start to 2022, the Polish player won five consecutive tournaments – in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Rome – and took over the position of WTA world no. 1 following Ashleigh Barty’s surprise retirement in March.

Since then, her level has continued to rise, and at one point far higher than any of her rivals on the WTA Tour.

A dominant win over Gauff propelled her alongside Venus Williams to hold the longest streak of any WTA player this century.

The different experience in this phase of the tournaments between Swiatek and Gauff, who played their first final this year, was evident from the start.

The American produced a double fault to make it 0-30 and then a weak backhand for the game’s first break point. That went in Swiatek’s direction as Gauff hit a forehand long.

It continued Swiatek’s record of breaking her opponent’s serve on the first try in every game at Roland Garros this year.

A couple of backhand winners in the next game looked like they could calm the American down as she got Swiatek to start.

However, Swiatek held serve with an ace and a forehand winner, then swamped her opponent’s serve to break again at 3-0.

“I wasn’t that nervous going into the match,” Gauff said.

“When I lost the first few games the nerves started to kick in, but when I lost the first set I really came out in the second and had a new attitude.”

“But for the most part I think Iga was just too good.”

Backed by a sympathetic crowd eager to see some competition, Gauff climbed the scoreboard 4-1 to great cheers, but remained stunned as Swiatek completed the opening set in 32 minutes.

Gauff slipped off the court at the end of the first set, returning to the break in the first game of the second set and then holding a 2-0 lead.

But their forehand continued to crumble under intense pressure as Swiatek rattled down the next five games to turn the set.

In the end, Swiatek’s greater experience in the finals – she’s only lost one of her nine at the top level, and that was her first in April 2019 – helped secure a victory most predicted before the clay-court Grand Slam started.

analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Iga Swiatek has the ability to overwhelm opponents from the first ball and is particularly ruthless in the final – she has now won nine straight sets.

After celebrating her 21st birthday last Tuesday, she has become the youngest woman to win multiple Grand Slams since Maria Sharapova claimed her second major title at the 2006 US Open.

She has almost exactly twice as many ranking points as any other player and that gap has been all too clear in the six tournaments she’s won since last losing in mid-February.

Coco Gauff struggled with her forehand, especially in the first set. It’s their weaker side, so it’s no big surprise that the baton failed under the pressure of a first Grand Slam final.

And when the tears have dried, Gauff will be even more optimistic about the future. She has just graduated from high school and has already completed a Grand Slam final.

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