Coco Gauff, 18, reduced to tears as Iga Swiatek storms to second French Open title and SIXTH tournament win in a row06/04/2022
UNSTOPPABLE Iga Swiatek capped one of the most remarkable runs in women’s modern-day tennis by lifting the French Open for a second time in three years.
With unsettled Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski watching in the posh seats, Roland Garros became Poland Garros once again as the Warsaw Warrior blew away rabbit-in-the-headlights Coco Gauff 6-1 6-3 in 68 minutes.
Swiatek assumed the mantle of world No.1 when Wimbledon and Aussie Open champion Ash Barty unexpectedly retired in March.
Yet she has more than lived up to that lofty status, winning an incredible 35 matches in a row, the third-best sequence on the WTA Tour in 32 years.
At the age of 21, Swiatek is also the youngest multiple major winner since a 19-year-old Russian Maria Sharapova added the 2006 US Open crown to her Wimbledon triumph from two years earlier.
The emotional pole hugged her team in the stands and said: “I want to say to Ukraine — stay strong as the war is still there.
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"I told Coco not to cry and now I am, too!
“Coco is doing an amazing month and progressing all the time. At your age, I had no idea what I was doing. You will find it and you will be there.
“Thank you to my team for the full support. I am happy every piece has come together. We all deserve to be here.
“Two years ago winning this title was amazing, this time I worked hard and did everything to get here. Even though it was tough, the pressure was big. Thank you to all the Polish flags.”
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In contrast, tears streamed down Gauff's face as she said: “This is a first time for me – so let’s try to get through this.
“Iga, what you have done on Tour has been truly amazing. Hopefully we can play in more finals and I can get a win over you one day.
“To my team, I am sorry I wasn’t able to get this one. Thank you for always supporting me. Hopefully this is the first final of many.”
To those on Court Philippe-Chatrier, the biggest worry pre-match was that the dominant Swiatek would blow Gauff off court like she had done to every other opponent since her fine run began in Doha in late February.
Or that Gauff would suffer stage fright in the biggest match of her young life, just a week or so after her High School graduation.
The crowd sensed that, too, and cries of ‘Come On Coco’ were heard after a double fault in the second point of the first game, which saw a break from Swiatek.
The pride of Poland converted her fourth break-point of the third game and at 3-0 up, it was a long way back for the American, whose forehand was simply not working.
In the first set there were several winners from Gauff, particularly on the backhand, but not enough consistency elsewhere to trouble the world’s top player.
At least by winning the fifth game, Gauff ensured she would not suffer the first bagelled set in a French Open women’s final since Justine Henin’s annihilation of fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters in 2003.
However, once she had her foot on the neck, Swiatek pressed down hard, sealing the first set on 32 minutes with another break of serve as an umpteenth Gauff forehand went begging.
It was the first set Gauff had dropped this past fortnight in the singles competition.
To her credit, the Florida teen upped her level at the start of the second, attempted the odd drop shot and benefited from a rare mistake by Swiatek to take the first game against the serve.
But once Swiatek broke back in the fourth game to level up at 2-2 and the floodlights came on, it was one-traffic in this one-sided women’s showpiece occasion.
And though the crowd were rooting now for "Coco", Swaitek coolly wrapped up victory before the thunderclouds arrived in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.
Gauff will learn from this experience and will surely be back on this stage but on Sunday she has the doubles final to think about alongside partner Jessica Pegula as they take on French wildcards Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic.
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