The youth movement is in full swing on the WTA. For the second time in the last three Slams, it’s an all-under 22 final as the streaking Iga Swiatek meets teen Coco Gauff for the French Open title on Sunday.
Swiatek ran her win streak to 34 by pulling away from first-time Slam semifinalist Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1. The Russian overcame an early break to make it 2-all, but the world No. 1 pulled away from there winning 10 of the last 11 games.
“I’m even more happy with the performance than after the previous match,” Swiatek said. “Because I feel like my game is getting more and more solid.
“I can really loosen up when I’m getting advantage and when I’m having a break, so that’s great. I feel like I’m playing better every match.”
Kasatkina falls to 0-4 against Swiatek this year. She came into the match having not conceded a set.
“She didn’t do anything which I was not ready for,” Kasatkina said. “The thing is I was too emotional today, and I couldn’t handle the nerves the way I was able to do the previous matches.
“I think that’s normal. Also, during the match she was playing better and better. All together brings the match to this point.”
Swiatek has now won 54 of her last 56 sets and 17 of her last 18 matches at Roland Garros.
“Just being able to be in the final again, it’s great,” said Swiatek. “Especially when I didn’t know actually how I’m gonna play here after so many tournaments that I played.
“It seemed kind of obvious for me that the streak may come to an end soon. So I just wanted to take it really step by step. I didn’t have any exact goals on this tournament.
“Just seeing how my game is developing every match, it’s something that’s giving me a lot of hope and I’m just proud of myself.”
Gauff joined her in the final in similar fashion. Facing the 28-year-old Martina Trevisan who she lost to in 2020, Gauff was edgy and erratic early, but then got into gear. After multiple service breaks, Gauff cruised to a 6-3, 6-1 victory to reach her very first Grand Slam final.
“I think I’m a little bit in shock right now,” Gauff said.
“Being American, I grew up hitting hard and sometimes I had to remind myself this is not the one to attack. Martina, I played her two years ago and lost to her so I knew how difficult she is to play, especially on clay.
“I think I’m in a mindset now, like, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to be happy regardless. My parents are going to love me regardless. I’m just going to go into it as another match.
“It’s a Grand Slam final but there are so many things going on in the world now, especially in the US, a lot of things going on right now, so I think it’s not important to stress over a tennis match.”
Like Gauff, Trevisan was also playing in her first Slam semifinal. The noisy Italian had won her last 10 matches.
The 18-year-old becomes the youngest to make a Slam final since 17-year-old Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004, and the youngest American in a Slam final since Serena won the 1999 US Open at age 17.
Gauff rolls into the final without having dropped a set. But Swiatek has won her last 16 sets in tournament finals and eight titles. Swiatek has also won both prior meetings in straight sets including earlier this year in Miami.
“I’m pretty happy that she’s doing well, because I think she’s also had huge amount of pressure in her life,” said Swiatek. “Being always the youngest one and the one that is supposed to be the future, it must have been tough.
“And when I see her, I tend to forget that she’s 18. She’s playing really consistent. You can see her progressing, and I think that’s the most important thing.”
Added Gauff on the final, “Playing Iga, she’s on a streak right now obviously, and I think going in I have nothing to lose and she’s definitely the favorite going into the match on paper.”
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Not a close, classic Final, but a great opportunity to see two young women who will be part of the conversation the next decade, I think. And the French Open was a tremendous success for both.
Coco Gauff, youngest in the Top 100, goes to #13 in ranking and is poised to make Top 10 at Wimbledon. So far, building a large fan base and well funded by USA Tennis as a minority with high athleticism and tennis skills. Even though Swiatek overwhelmed her, Gauff was game to play and had some moments that showcased her promise as a player.
Swiatek? Delivered big. Deserved this title. I think more to come. Her grass game is good. Was the Wimbledon juniors champion. Celebrate today? Celebrate with Rafa tomorrow? World’s her pickled herring.
June 4th, 2022 at 9:57 am