'Every piece comes together' for Swiatek to triumph in Paris

World No.1 continues to dominate as she eases past Gauff to clinch second Roland-Garros title

Iga Swiatek, Roland Garros 2022, final© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

Iga Swiatek has capped a flawless 2022 reign as world No.1 with her second Roland-Garros title, denying teenager Coco Gauff for the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen on Saturday.

The indefatigable Pole’s 6-1, 6-3 triumph was her 35th straight and tied her with Venus Williams’ streak from the year 2000 - the longest unbeaten run on the women's tour this century.

Swiatek has become the fourth-youngest multiple Roland-Garros champion in the Open Era after Monica Seles, Steffi Graf and Chris Evert and is the youngest to claim two majors since Maria Sharapova in 2006.

She is the first woman to win six titles in a row since Justine Henin in 2007/2008 and hasn't lost a match since February.

The 21-year-old has not conceded a set or more than five games in her past nine finals and in a remarkable display of poise she never needed to deviate too far from her assertive game plan on Court Philippe-Chatrier to extend that record.

“I’m pretty happy every piece has finally come together... Two years ago winning this title was something amazing,” Swiatek said.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t expect it ever but this time I feel like I worked hard, did everything to get here. Even though it was pretty tough, the pressure was big…

“Really I have extra motivation every time I’m coming here, so I love to be back.”

Fighting back tears during the Polish national anthem, the biggest ovation was reserved when she delivered a special message to her country’s neighbour, Ukraine.

“I want at the end to say something to Ukraine. Stay strong because the world is still there,” Swiatek said.

“Since my first (winner’s) speech in Doha, basically I was hoping that when I’m going to do the next one that the situation is going to get better, but I’m still going to have hopes and try to support.”

Swiatek had not conceded a set in the pair’s two prior encounters – en route to titles in Miami this year and Rome in 2021 – but Gauff warned ahead of the final she typically figured out an opponent third time round.

Four years since she announced herself with the junior Roland-Garros title at 14, Gauff had slowly but surely developed into a bona fide major contender.

Coco Gauff, Roland Garros 2022, final© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

A maiden Grand Slam quarter-final came in Paris a year ago and her improvements since were profound – tactically, physically and emotionally.

The trouble was facing a rival whose upward trajectory across those same departments was even more dramatic since her breakthrough against Sofia Kenin on Court Philippe-Chatrier two years ago.

While the teenager may have gauged what she needed to do differently this time round, it ultimately fell short against a relentless tour de force, a champion who had forgotten how to lose.

“What you’ve done on the tour the last couple of months has truly been amazing and you’re truly deserving,” Gauff said. “Hopefully we can play each other in more finals and maybe I can get a win on you one of these days.”

Nerves were to be expected in a first Grand Slam final and Gauff’s were palpable as she was broken in the opening game.

Iga Swiatek, Roland Garros 2022, final© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Prior to the final, the teenager spoke of the need for patience and to carefully choose her moments of aggression.

The 18th seed had to take her chances. Swiatek was simply too strong to hang steady and hope for an implosion.

Sixteen minutes in and the Pole had secured the double break for 3-0.

It was all slipping away far too quickly.

Four loose errors off the young American’s less consistent forehand wing gifted her opponent the consolidation before she finally landed her name on the board when Swiatek swatted a backhand return wide.

The top seed was in full flight with the set in sight as she changed direction at will, flicking a forehand winner in behind.

She backed it up with a pinpoint forehand bludgeoned into the corner to end a lengthy exchange and raised her fist as she surged to 5-1.

The set was in the bag after 32 minutes and Gauff needed to regroup fast.

With the likes of former champions Billie Jean King, Mats Wilander, Iva Majoli and Ana Ivanovic watching from the stands, the teenager immediately wiped her slate clean.

A pair of uncharacteristic backhand errors from her rival helped her secure a break in the opening game of the second set but from 2-0 up, she could not sustain the advantage.

As the match approached one hour, the floodlights on Chatrier were lit as heavy clouds and a rampant world No.1 closed in.

A seventh backhand winner threaded down the line carried her to within sight of the finish line.

After 68 minutes, Queen Iga served out a decisive triumph. Her crown was reclaimed and her unbeaten reign extended.