PARIS (AFP/ REUTERS) – Iga Swiatek cruised to her second French Open title by dominating teenager Coco Gauff in the final on Saturday (June 4), as the world No. 1 claimed her 35th successive victory.
The 21-year-old Pole stormed to a 6-1, 6-3 win in only 68 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier, equalling Venus Williams’ record for the longest winning run by a woman in the 21st century.
Swiatek celebrated her sixth straight title this year in the players’ box with her friends and family.
A disconsolate Gauff was left sitting on her seat in tears after a nervous performance, punctuated by 23 unforced errors and three double faults.
The 18-year-old American came up short in her bid to become the youngest Grand Slam singles champion since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004.
Swiatek, only the 10th woman to win multiple French Opens in the Open era, lost just one set in the tournament – against China’s Zheng Qinwen in the fourth round.
She has now won all three of her career meetings with Gauff, who was playing in her first major final.
She said: “First of all I want to congratulate you (Gauff), I see you are improving every week, you will find it and you will be there. I am pretty sure of that.
“I want to thank my team. I am pretty happy as every piece has come together. I want to thank my dad for everything and my sister.
“Two years ago winning this was amazing. I feel I worked hard, and the pressure was big. I’d love to be back, and oh my god. It seems like I need some more experience of this.
“I want to say something to Ukraine, to stay strong, as the war is still there.”
Gauff will now turn her attentions to Sunday’s doubles final, where she will face home favourites Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic alongside compatriot Jessica Pegula.
Swiatek improved her remarkable record in finals, having won her last nine on the WTA Tour.
Gauff looked nervous in the opening exchanges and a flurry of unforced errors handed Swiatek a break in the very first game.
The 18th seed found herself 3-0 and a double break down just 16 minutes into the match, as Swiatek’s powerful backhand helped her win a lengthy third game on her fifth break point.
Gauff finally got on the board with a scrappy hold to the delight of the crowd, but she dropped a set for the first time in the tournament just minutes later.
Swiatek was not playing her best, but a cross-court backhand winner brought up two set points and she took the second opportunity when Gauff fired wide.
The Pole gifted her opponent a potential route back into the match, making four unforced errors to throw away her serve in the first game of the second set.
Swiatek recomposed herself though as the mistakes continued to come from Gauff, breaking back to level at 2-2.
She made it five straight games to move within one of the title, losing only five points in the process.
Gauff dug deep to force Swiatek to serve for the trophy.
But the top seed did just that on her first match point, dropping to the red clay in celebration as Gauff sent a return flying long.
Rafa-Ruud on Sunday
In the men’s final on Sunday, Rafael Nadal will be aiming for a 14th title at Roland Garros and 22nd Grand Slam.
He will face Casper Ruud, who became the first Norwegian man to reach a Grand Slam tennis final.
Ruud , the world number eight, defeated Croatia’s Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in a semi-final which was held up when a protester ran onto the court and tied herself by the neck to the net.
Ruud, who fired 16 aces and 41 winners past 2014 US Open champion Cilic, said later of his upcoming match against Nadal: “I look up to Rafa. He’s the perfect example of how to behave on the court, never gives up and never complains. He’s been my idol all my life.