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Swiatek hammers Gauff in French Open final

Iga Swiatek is so efficient, so smooth, with a racquet in her hand, seemingly never flustered a bit and, for months now, never beaten.

The only time she looked even the slightest bit shaken on Saturday on Court Philippe Chatrier was after her 68-minute 6-1 6-3 victory against Coco Gauff in the final was finished, pushing the world No.1’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, “and what am I doing right now?!”

She interrupted herself a few times during her victory speech, at one point admonishing, “Oh, my God. It seems like I still need some experience.”

But she also gathered her thoughts well enough to offer support and wishes of hope for Ukraine.

“Stay strong, because the world is still there,” Swiatek told Ukrainians, whose blue-and-yellow flag is represented by a ribbon she has been wearing on her white cap during matches.

Gauff, an American appearing in her first major final at age 18, and just weeks removed from celebrating her high school graduation, never stood much of a chance – like most opponents against Swiatek lately.

Her 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 told her 21-year-old opponent.

“Hopefully we can play each other in more finals, and maybe I can get a win on you one of these days!”

Having won her past six tournaments, improving to 42-3 this season, Swiatek has emerged as a dominant figure in women’s tennis.

The 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams has been out of action for nearly a year and Australia’s three-time major champ Ash Barty announced in March she would retire at age 25 and relinquish the No. 1 ranking.

“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.”

Swiatek broke serve right from the get-go, with plenty of help from Gauff, who put a forehand into the net, double-faulted, dumped a forehand into the net, and pushed another forehand long.

When Gauff’s work-in-progress forehand betrayed her again, Swiatek was quickly 4-0 up and when the teenager got on the board by holding for 4-1, the applause and roar were suitable for the capture of a set, not simply one game.

“You guys supported me, even when I was down,” Gauff told the fans afterwards.

Gauff began the second set by breaking Swiatek for the only time, and then holding to go up 2-0.

But it was to no avail, Gauff ending with more unforced errors, 23-16, and also fewer winners: 14 for her, 18 for Swiatek.

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.

Maybe a couple of years down the road, Swiatek surmised, a night out might be a welcome distraction. For now, she said, she felt she needed to keep all of her attention on tennis.

Why mess with success?

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