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?”
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 in Paris, 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.”
WATCH | Swiatek beats Gauff to win 2nd French Open title:
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 serving 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.”
On the warmest day of the tournament, with the temperature at 28 C, just a few puffs of white in the blue sky at the outset turned into thick, foreboding gray clouds by the second set, accompanied by a thunderclap.
Gauff did not get off to the best of starts, a little bit of early jitters that would be understandable coming from any player in a debut on this stage.
The player on the other side of the net certainly had a lot to do with the way things went.
Swiatek broke serve right from the get-go, with plenty of help from Gauff, who put a forehand into the net, double-faulted — eliciting some sighs of “Awwwww” from a supportive crowd — dumped a forehand into the net, and pushed another forehand long.
When Gauff’s work-in-progress forehand betrayed her again, she got broken again to trail 3-0 after just 15 minutes of action. Soon enough, the score was 4-0 in Swiatek’s favour.
Not in all cases, of course, but often, the spectators at Roland Garros tend to offer their support to underdogs and to whichever player is trailing in a particular match. Both of which applied to Gauff. So there was a surfeit of shouts of “Allez, Coco!” There were repeated cries of her chant-ready, two-syllable first name. And one fan yelled out “Coco, you can do it!”
When Gauff got on the board by holding to 4-1, the applause and roar were suitable for the capture of a set, not simply one game.
As things appeared to be getting away from her, Gauff slapped her thigh or covered her eyes, shook her head or looked up toward her parents in the stands.
What she never did was waver or concede anything.
Gauff began the second set by breaking Swiatek for the only time, and then holding to go up 2-0. Might this now be a much closer contest? Might Gauff push Swiatek to a third set?
No. Swiatek quickly recalibrated and reasserted herself, breaking back for 2-all as Gauff’s propensity for miscues returned.
Swiatek is not just winning, but winning easily, already amassing 16 sets taken by a 6-0 score in 2022 — and it’s only early June.
The only Polish player to win a Grand Slam singles trophy, Swiatek does it with a mix of a topspin-laden heavy forehand — just like someone she admires greatly, 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, who will face Casper Ruud in the men’s final Sunday — and an all-court game, filled with variety and an appreciation of setting up moves ahead of time during a point. Much like a chess player, which she is.
Swiatek’s got other attributes, too, such as strong footwork that allows her to play defense when required.
Also key to Swiatek’s presence, and swiftly burgeoning aura, is her calmness on court. She has traveled on tour with a sports psychologist, who was in Swiatek’s guest box on Saturday, and works on various elements of her professional and personal lives.
That includes an emphasis on maintaining focus and setting priorities, such as the determination that she is still too new at this whole business of attempting to win Grand Slam titles that she decided it was best not to attend the Champions League soccer final in Paris last weekend , something Nadal did do.
Arevalo, Rojer captures men’s doubles title
Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and Jean-Julien Rojer of Netherlands won the French Open men’s doubles championship by beating Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Austin Krajicek of the United States 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3.
The 40-year-old Rojer is the oldest Grand Slam men’s doubles champion in the Open era. He won the 2017 US Open title with Horia Tecau.
According to the International Tennis Federation, Arevalo is the first man from Central America to win a Grand Slam title.
Arevalo and Rojer were seeded 12th. Dodig and Krajicek were not seeded.
Dodig and Krajicek held three championship points at 6-5 in the second set but were unable to convert any.