Swiatek 4-1 Gauff*
New determination from Gauff as he glides to 30-0 up, only for, yes, the forehand, to let her down. Then comes a double fault. Oh dear. Ana Ivanovic is sighted in the crowd with Manchester United legend Bastian Schweinsteiger as Gauff gets to 40-30, only to make an error for it to go to deuce. Gauff punches down one of those backhands to take an advantage, then forces an error from Swiatek. A punch of the air and the teenager is on the board.
*Swiatek 4-0 Gauff
Ominously for Gauff, the Swiatek serve is clicking, and the forehand is being targeted. But at 40-15 down, Gauff nails one, it’s unreachable. Still, there’s a mountain to climb in this set. It’s racing by and away from Gauff.
Swiatek 3-0 Gauff*
A second break. The Polish player smells blood on the Gauff serve and is charging forward on to it. Gauff is tempted into backhand hits that go into the net, and a break point is claimed when Swiatek shows how it’s done. But two good serves take us to deuce. Better, only to be ruined by a forehand error. That’s saved by a crashing shot that forces Swiatek into missing a volley. Then comes a skipping serve to hand Gauff game point. And yet her forehand lets her down once more. A fourth break point is offered up. “Iga, Iga,” sing the crowd but a backhand rescues Gauff, who crashes one home. That’s the shot that will keep her in this match. The forehand lets her down – again – and she can’t keep in her return of a Swiatek shot to the back of the court. And again, on the fifth time of asking, another forehand miss.
*Swiatek 2-0 Gauff
Swiatek’s serve does not start with a bang, either, and she nets for 15-15. Then Gauff blasts back a backhand winner for 15-30. Swiatek then wins a rally at the net, reading Gauff’s baseline scrambling very well. Then Gauff overhits, before rescuing deuce with a crashing winner down the line. Then comes the first ace of the match, then her next serve presents her with chance to take the game and hold her service.
Swiatek 1-0 Gauff*
Here we go in Parjs, with Gauff to serve first, having taken the honour. The American’s first shot rattles off the net, then she double faults for 0-30. Nervous serving here, but her second serve tempts Swiatek into overhitting for 15-30. Some pillock does that awful “bu-bu-bu-bo-bo-bo” call-and-response nonsense, and then Gauff makes a mistake, coughing up two break points. Well done, idiot. Swiatek takes the first point with a sweeping backhand.
They’re knocking up, and calmly so. No wind in Philippe Chatrier, we are told, but who does that favour? The bigger server perhaps, making it Swiatek. Gauff is the youngest finalist in any slam since Sharpova in 2004.
The players take to the court, Coco Gauff coming out first to plenty of cheers. Swiatek’s applause may be a little louder. Mat Wilander on the Eurosport broadcast suggests Gauff should concentrate on tennis, rather than “life”, which could be read as a kick against her activism. It certainly felt like that.
It’s the men’s final tomorrow, and Nadal is going for the decimocuarto, his 14th, though perhaps a bit luckily after Sasha Zverev’s injury yesterday. Casper Ruud took his time to beat Marin Cilic but eventually got the job done.
The hype is building up in Paris, and so is the heat. It’s 28 degrees there.
Swiatek won this title in 2020, the Roland Garros event delayed until October that year by the pandemic. That was her first ever tour title, she’s added seven since, five this year.
Some Swiatek quotes via the Roland Garros official site.
“Being able to be in the final again, it’s great, especially when I didn’t know actually how I’m gonna play here after so many tournaments that I played,” said Swiatek, who is looking to become the first woman to collect six consecutive titles since Justine Henin in 2007-08 this weekend.
“It seemed kind of obvious for me that the streak may come to an end soon. So I just wanted to take it step by step. I didn’t have any exact goals on this tournament. Just seeing how my game is developing every match, it’s something that’s giving me a lot of hope, and I’m just proud of myself.”
Caira Conner profiled Coco Gauff, a young athlete looking way beyond the end of her racquet.
She is among a burgeoning cohort of athletes who use time in front of reporters to speak up on issues that have little to do with the racquets or balls in their hands. In tennis, a sport where players are perhaps more likely to publicly eschew the complexities of social consciousness for platitudes on hard work, Gauff is clear on her choice: “I’m a human first.”
“Since I was younger, my dad told me I could change the world with my racquet,” said Gauff, who cited LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick, Naomi Osaka and Billie Jean King among her role models in athlete-activism. “He didn’t mean that by like just playing tennis. He meant speaking out on issues like this. The first thing my dad said to me after I got off court, I’m proud of you and I love what you wrote on the camera.”
Tumaini Carayol deep-dove into Iga Swiatek.
Swiatek’s 34-match winning streak is remarkable in itself, the joint second-highest of the 21st century alongside Serena Williams and one behind Venus Williams’s count of 35 in 2000. While the others faced more difficult rivals, the circumstances are particularly awkward given its timing. Arriving at the French Open with all her 28 wins coming at WTA tournaments seemed like such an extra burden that some believed a loss in Rome might have helped her manage the pressure.
As she has navigated the draw, Swiatek has handled the occasion in different ways. She has talked about the value of maintaining low expectations, taking things day by day, even though her ambitions make it so difficult. She has been frank about the possible outcomes here, including the fact that losing is an option that should be prepared for, one that would not be a tragedy.
Quite the final we have on Philippe Chatrier today, a battle between an irresistible force in Iga Swiatek and irresistible charm in Coco Gauff. It’s also a battle between two members of the younger generation on the women’s tour. Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, while Gauff is still just 18, having charmed the tennis world in 2018 with her Wimbledon run. It’s her first grand slam final, though she has also reached the women’s doubles final this year at Roland Garros. To land the French title, Gauff must beat a player on a 34-match winning streak, going for a sixth title in succession, and therefore upset the odds, though she has yet to drop a set this year in Paris. This could be a classic, and three sets of tennis must be expected.
We start at 2pm UK time.