French Open winner Iga Swiatek poses proudly with her trophy

French Open winner Iga Swiatek poses proudly with her trophy

Surprise winner in 2020 who became world No.1 and grand favorite, Iga Swiatek perfectly held her rank to put her name on the Roland-Garros list for the second time at the expense of American teenager Coco Gauff on Saturday. Under stormy skies, and shortly after a first clap of thunder resounded, it was Swiatek who made the thunder speak by outclassing 6-1, 6-3 in 68 minutes Gauff, never really released for her first major final , at 18 years old. “I just told Coco not to cry, and it’s me who’s crying now,” smiled the world No.1, moved to tears during the Polish anthem. “When I was your age, it was my first year on the tour, and I had no idea what I was doing,” she consoled her unfortunate opponent.

Swiatek also wanted to have a word for Ukraine, where the war has been raging for more than a hundred days. “Since (the tournament in) Doha (late February), I hoped in every tournament (that I played) that the situation would have improved, but I remain hopeful,” she said. This is the second Grand Slam trophy for the young Polish woman, 21, since Tuesday, after her then unexpected coronation in the Parisian autumn, the fault of Covid-19, a year and a half ago. “In 2020, I felt confused, because I never really believed 100% that I could win a Grand Slam. I just felt lucky, compares Swiatek. This time, it’s the result of “A lot of work. I know better what it takes to win a Grand Slam, how much each piece of the puzzle has to fall into place. Knowing that, I am even happier and prouder.”

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35 wins and six titles in a row

A whole host of signals testify to her taking power over women’s tennis, she who fully assumes her still recent status as world No.1, which she suddenly inherited in early April after the surprise retirement of Ashleigh Barty. His last defeat? It goes back more than a hundred days. Precisely on February 16 in Dubai (in the eighth against Ostapenko). Since then, Swiatek has lined up 35 consecutive victories, best series of the 2000s established by Venus Williams equaled and third best series since the 1990s, just behind Martina Hingis (37) and Monica Seles (36). Only four more players – and not just any – have also signed series at least as long over the course of their career: Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Margaret Court and Chris Evert.

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After Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Rome, Swiatek won his sixth trophy in a row at Roland-Garros. We hadn’t seen that for almost fifteen years, with Justine Hénin between the summer of 2007 and the beginning of 2008 (from Toronto to Sydney). At 21, the native of Warsaw becomes the youngest multiple Grand Slam winner since Maria Sharapova (19 at the US Open 2006 after Wimbledon 2004). She also becomes the first, since Serena Williams (2015) and Sharapova (2014), to win several times on Parisian clay.

Gauff “relieved”

Throughout the fortnight, Swiatek set the tone. In seven matches, she left only one set on the way: in the quarter-finals, against the young Chinese Qinwen Zheng (6-7 (5/7), 6-0, 6-2), in a match 2h45 min long. Apart from that, she spent on average less than an hour and a quarter on the court per match, like the final. Facing Gauff, Swiatek took full advantage of the obvious tension of his young opponent, inexperienced in the major final, to quickly escape 4 games to 0 and pocket the first set in 32 minutes. The Florida teenager did not register his first game until after 23 minutes. A slight improvement gave her a 2-0 lead in the second set, but Swiatek immediately came back and then proved intractable.

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A habit in the final for the Pole, accompanied since the offseason by a new coach, Tomasz Wiktorowski: since her first loss in 2019 (Lugano), she has won the next nine. “When I was 15, 16, 17, I felt so much pressure to reach a (Grand Slam) final. Now that I’ve done it, I feel relieved,” admits Gauff, who a name at only 15 years old by offering Venus Williams in the first round of Wimbledon in 2019 and inviting herself there until the round of 16. On Monday, she will climb to 13th in the world, the best ranking of her budding career.

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