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Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff road to the Roland Garros final

Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff road to the Roland Garros final

Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff road to the Roland Garros final

In the previous prominent contest before the Roland Garros began, Iga Swiatek won her 5th trophy in as many tournaments at the Italian Open. It was a result anticipated by all, but even so as Ons Jabeur’s final backhand hit the net Swiatek fell to her knees and wept in joy into the clay.

The tears from Iga Swiatek were no spectacular expression of her joy, but rather the immediate release of nerves of tension of being prompted a dozen times each day of her winning stretch, all on top of her own lofty hopes. If that is what it took out of her to win Italian Open, it is hard to guess the work it has taken to remain composed for 6 matches under grand slam stress and move to the Roland Garros final again.

Iga Swiatek’s thirty four-match winning streak is incredible in itself, the joint second highest of the twenty first century alongside Serena Williams and one following Venus Williams’s count of thirty five in 2000. While the others faced more complex rivals, the conditions are particularly awkward given its timing. Arriving at the Roland Garros with all her twenty eight wins coming at WTA tournaments seemed like such an additional burden that some believed a defeat in Rome might have helped her deal with the pressure.

As she has navigated the draw, Iga Swiatek has dealt with the occasion in different ways. She has talked about the cost of maintaining low expectations, taking things day by day, even though her intentions make it so difficult. She has been honest about the possible outcomes here, as well as the fact that losing is a choice that should be prepared for, one that would not be a tragedy.

Essentially, she has kept herself truthful, and the outcome is that she has played her best tennis of the tournament deep into the occasion, arming herself with an absurd opportunity to set down a remarkable marker in the final. At 21, it is clear that her second Roland Garros trophy after her getaway win in 2020 could sign an era of dominance in Paris.

Another important story that cannot be ignored in this final at the French Open would be Coco Gauff. She was extensively hyped as a prodigy all through her childhood, then she broke out to international stardom at Wimbledon in 2019, the hype deafening. Even then, there were no guarantees of her future triumph. It is extremely remarkable that as the youngest grand slam finalist since 2004, she is still taking these steps at such a young age.

Gauff has enjoyed a pleasant draw, her highest-ranked opponent the No thirty one seed Elise Mertens, but she has dealt with it fiercely and without dropping a set. On Friday, she also reached the doubles final beside Jessica Pegula. As the world Number 10 in doubles compared to Number 23 in singles, and in her second final, she is precisely a more successful doubles player.

But the most vital phase of her run has been the growth she has established after three years on the tour. Gauff has talked about how her outlook has shifted, and now she understands that winning or losing tennis matches is not the end of the world. Her more calm attitude has clearly been beneficial.

Gauff is in the development of moulding a talented game and she has several abilities to put forward against Swiatek, who leads the head-to-head 2-0. She possesses a massive and increasingly precise first serve, a top-quality backhand, some of the finest defence in the sport and the capability to play with variety off both sides. Her game is still a work in evolution, though, particularly her hitchy forehand that Swiatek will beat with her own. If Igo Swiatek manages to keep her nerves cool and calm, Gauff will have to play at a level she has not yet reached just to compete, but she has at least given herself the best chance of doing so.

More than everything, this will be a final played in enormous spirits with the faith that there are many more such duels to come. Four years ago, Gauff reached the 2018 Roland Garros junior final and then watched as Swiatek lost from match point up in the semi-final to her doubles partner, Caty McNally. Gauff won the trophy that year, and a few weeks later Swiatek won the junior singles title at Wimbledon.

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Grrisham Sawlani

Grrisham Sawlani

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