Iga Świątek cruises in Roland Garros final over Coco Gauff

Iga Świątek
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Exactly how did Iga Świątek zoom to the top this year, winning almost everything this spring, beating the heck out of all. The Pole No. 1 snared at Roland Garros, for the second time, beating Coco Gauff 6-1, 6-3. With an aggressive game, especially with her hard returns off of both wing, she was also in command on her service games except for one break.

Really last year, she was up and down. In the last four months this year, she knew how to really play. She gets her legs very close to the ground, which is known problem, and then she would swing viciously.

Świątek extending her unbeaten run to 35 matches. That is almost a shocker.

“Two years ago, winning this title was something amazing, I wouldn’t expect it ever,” the 21-year-old said. “But this time I feel like I worked hard and did everything to get here even though it was pretty tough and the pressure was big.”

Oh, yes, the pressure was there. But before she came to Paris, she had won Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Rome. On the hardcourts and on the clay. She has lost only two sets in her streak.

The 21-year-old found the lines all the time. After she won, she was told that she passed the great Serena Williams’ winning streak, who has won 23 Grand Slams.

“I think honestly, it may seem pretty weird, but having that 35th win and kind of doing something more than Serena did, it’s something special,” Świątek said. “Because I always wanted to have some record. In tennis it’s pretty hard after Serena’s career. So basically that really hit me. Obviously winning a Grand Slam too, but this one was pretty special because I felt like I’ve done something that nobody has ever done, and maybe it’s gonna be even more.”

Świątek tied Venus Williams’ streak of 35 this century but well short of Martina Navratilova’s 74 in 1984, along with longer streaks by Steffi Graf, Chris Evert and Margaret Court.

Gauff started on the tour when she was only 15-year-old. She had played fantastic in 12 days at RG, but in the final, she did not play well at all. She rushed and looked nervous a lot.

Gauff hit 23 unforced errors. After she lost, she cried for a long time.

“Now that I have seen the level, this level of number and 35 matches, I know that’s what I have to do,” she said. “Hopefully next time. I’m sure I’m going to play her in another final and hopefully it’s a different result. I definitely feel like this helped my confidence a lot. I just think even when I was 15, 16, 17, I felt like so much pressure to make a final. Now that I made it, it feels like a relief a little bit.”

Świątek will go onto the grass, and at Wimbledon, she has never progressed further than the fourth round. Now she can turn it around on the beloved grass. If she can blast a number of aces, just like Serena and Venus Williams have done, winning Wimbledon is doable.

Rafa aimed at his fourteenth French title
Rafa Nadal is a heavy favorite to win the men’s final. He has won it at Roland Garros 13 times, and he has never lost at the final.

The 21-Grand Slam champ just had another birthday, and he is now 36 years old. He does get injured a lot – most notably his chronic foot injury – but when he gets on to the court, he plays every second.

On Sunday, he will face the 23-year-old Casper Ruud of Norway. In the semis, Nadal played three hours and didn’t finish the second set when Alexander Zverev had to retire when he seriously rolled his right ankle. It could have gone another two hours, but on Sunday, Nadal should be fresh.

“I like to play in the best stadiums of the world and feel myself, at my age, still competitive. Means a lot to me.” Nadal said. “That makes me feel in some way proud and happy about all the work that we did.”

Ruud finally rose at the majors, and he had practiced with Nadal a number of times. He is pretty quick, and he can focus. He realizes that to upset Nadal, he will have to play out of this earth. “I will need to play my best tennis ever,” said Ruud. “But I still have to believe that I can do it.”

This is the first time that they have faced iff. They have spent practicing a number of times in Spain.

“He always, pretty much, has always beaten me,” Ruud said when he smiled. “This is a special occasion for both of us. He’s playing for his 22nd; I’m playing for my first. Big contrast. I’m the underdog, and we will just enjoy the moment.”

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