Roland Garros final preview: Iga Swiatek vs Coco Gauff
Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff are gearing up to draw blades in the Roland Garros final.
The world number one is one match away from consolidating her billing as the tournament favourite and adding a second Roland Garros title to her 2020 triumph.
On the other side of the net, Gauff is into her maiden Slam final.
It comes less than three years after enrapturing Wimbledon 2019 as a 15-year-old.
Join Tennishead for a look at a Slam final that spells a bright future for the women’s game.
Slam pedigree at Roland Garros and beyond
Even before their senior debuts, both Swiatek and Gauff knew how to win at Slams.
The American won the Roland Garros girls’ singles back in 2018 as a 14-year-old, downing compatriot and friend Caty McNally in the final 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1).
Swiatek was also so nearly in that final.
Facing McNally in the semi-finals, the Pole was up 6-3, 6-6 and with a match point at 6-5 in the tiebreak, on McNally’s serve.
She failed to convert the point, the tiebreak and the match as she fell to the American 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4.
That loss stuck with Swiatek and fuelled her to win the very next junior Slam at Wimbledon, winning the tournament for the loss of just one set, including a 6-0, 6-1 quarter-final thrashing of a 15-year-old Emma Raducanu.
Gauff won the hearts of fans at Wimbledon and beyond after her famous victory over Venus Williams and consequent run to the fourth round at just 15 years old in 2019.
The world number 23, still just 18, has now been settled on the tour for some time.
While prior to Paris she had not hit the highest peaks at Slams, she had improved to a best Major result of reaching the quarter-finals at last year’s Roland Garros.
Meanwhile, Swiatek knows exactly what it is like to be in a final on Court Philippe-Chatrier, and has been highly consistent at the other Majors.
The world number one reached at least the fourth round of every Slam in 2021, the only woman to do so.
She then reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open at the start of this season, her best Slam result since her 2020 Roland Garros trophy run.
Form entering Roland Garros and in Paris
Not only is Swiatek one win from a second Major crown, she is also one victory from claiming the joint-longest win streak in women’s tennis of the 21st century.
Her four WTA 1000 titles, plus the Stuttgart Open and run to the Roland Garros final have taken the Pole to 34 consecutive wins.
Since the turn of the millennium, only Venus Williams can boast a longer run, claiming 35 wins without loss in 2000.
Ahead of the final, the 21-year-old is now 44-3 on the season, having only lost in Adelaide, at the Australian Open and in Dubai in 2022.
Nowhere near the lofty heights of Swiatek, Gauff registered a middling win-loss record of 14-10 before Paris.
She is yet to claim a title this year and had only won three consecutive matches once this season.
Of course that changed in the French capital, the American despatching all before her without the loss of a set.
That is one set more clinical than Swiatek in her run, the Pole dropping a set to Chinese 19-year-old Zheng Qinwen in the fourth round.
Head-to-head: Swiatek 2-0 Gauff
Despite prolific junior careers, Swiatek and Gauff never met in competition before joining the WTA tour.
Their first showdown came at last year’s Italian Open in the semi-finals.
Both women were vying for a maiden WTA 1000 trophy.
Swiatek was too strong that day as she took down Gauff 7-6, 6-3, before she emarassed Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-0 in the final in Rome.
Gauff was offered a chance at revenge at this year’s Miami Open in March.
However, she suffered an even heavier defeat to the newly-crowned world number one there.
She lost 6-3, 6-1 that day, Swiatek claiming win number 14 of her stupendous current victory run.
What the Roland Garros greats think
Eurosport tennis experts Mats Wilander and Alex Corretja have both previewed the women’s finale.
Triple Roland Garros champion Wilander has backed Swiatek, though not as heavily as he did in her semi-final.
Wilander said: “Obviously it’s a dream final for all of us spectators and maybe that will put a little pressure on [Iga] Swiatek.
“Playing somebody who’s three years younger, but hasn’t been to a Slam final and most probably is not afraid of the consequences.
“That is Coco Gauff, so I think Iga is the favourite, but this will be a real test.”
Two-time finalist Corretja said: “I think it’s going to be a very entertaining match, very even.
“And of course, for Iga, she has more experience, she has won here already.
“For the American, it’s the first time [in a Slam final] but she looks like she’s having fun.
“She’s going to go out there just thinking that she can do it.”
What the players think
While a huge moment for the pair, both women were understated in their feelings and expectations ahead of the match, particularly regarding the outcome.
On being in her second Roland Garros final, Swiatek said: “Being able to be in the final again, just seeing how my game is developing every match.
“It’s something that’s giving me a lot of hope.
“I’m just proud of myself.”
The Iga method to winning….and a little @ledzeppelin #RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/CXeKlATctp
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 2, 2022
Despite being on the brink of an incredible first, Gauff spoke from a place of wider perspective
On the possibility of winning the final, she said: “I think in a final anything can happen.
“If I do lift the trophy, honestly, I don’t think my life is going to change really.
“The people who love me are still going to love me, regardless if I lift the trophy or not.”
Keeping it real with @CocoGauff ✌#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/ofFQG4CIlt
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 2, 2022
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