Iga Swiatek downs Coco Gauff for second French Open title
PARIS — Iga Swiatek is so efficient, so smooth, with a racket in her hand, seemingly never flustered a bit and, for months now, never beaten.
The only time she looked even the slightest bit shaken Saturday at Court Philippe Chatrier was after her 6-1, 6-3 victory against Coco Gauff in the final was finished, pushing the No. 1-ranked Swiatek’s winning streak to 35 matches and her French Open title count to two.
That’s when the tears flowed, first during the Polish national anthem — Swiatek is the only player from that nation to win a Grand Slam singles title — and, again, during the trophy ceremony.
“I just told Coco, ‘Don’t cry,'” said Swiatek, who claimed the 2020 French Open while still a teen and ranked outside the top 50, “and what am I doing right now?”
She interrupted herself a few times during her victory speech, at one point admonishing, “Oh, my God. It seems like I still need some experience.” But Swiatek also gathered her thoughts well enough to offer support and wishes of hope for Ukraine, which Russia invaded in February.
“Stay strong, because the world is still there,” Swiatek told Ukrainians, whose blue-and-yellow flag is represented by a ribbon of those colors she has been wearing on her white cap during matches.Gauff, an American appearing in her first major final at age 18, and just weeks removed from celebrating her high school graduation with cap-and-gown photos near the Eiffel Tower, never stood much of a chance — like most opponents against Swiatek lately.
Swiatek’s unbeaten run stretches back to February and equals one by Venus Williams in 2000 as the longest this century.
“The past couple months have truly been amazing and you totally deserve it,” said the 18th-seeded Gauff, now 0-3 against Swiatek, told her 21-year-old opponent, then added with a chuckle: “Hopefully we can play each other in more finals, and maybe I can get a win on you one of these days.”
Having won her past six tournaments, improving to 42-3 this season, Swiatek has emerged as a dominant figure in tennis, with 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams out of action for nearly a year and three-time major champ Ash Barty announcing in March she would retire at age 25 and relinquish the No. 1 ranking.
That allowed Swiatek to move up to the top of the WTA, and she’s shown she is a deserving resident there.
“Two years ago, winning this title was something amazing. Honestly, I wouldn’t expect it, ever,” Swiatek said. “But this time, I feel like I worked hard and did everything to get here, even though it was pretty tough. The pressure was big