PARIS — After winning her first French Open out of season in October as an unseeded teenager, Iga Swiatek proved that was anything but a fluke by winning the title again in the spring as an overwhelming favorite.

Swiatek, now 21 and the No. 1 seed from Poland, cemented her status as the game’s dominant player by defeating Coco Gauff of the United States, 6-1, 6-3, in Saturday’s women’s final in just over an hour.

She even beat the rain, closing out the victory with thunder rumbling in the final game over the main Philippe Chatrier Court with its open roof.

Swiatek has been an irresistible force on every surface for the last four months, racking up lopsided victories with her cap pulled low and her intensity cranked up high. But red clay remains her favorite playground, as it does for her role model Rafael Nadal, who will take aim at his 14th French Open title on Sunday.

But Saturday belonged to Swiatek and her own heavy-topspin forehand. She took command of the final from the start to win her 35th straight match and sixth straight tournament.

“I think in 2020, the main thing that I felt was confusion, because I have never really believed 100 percent that I can actually win a Grand Slam,” Swiatek said.

This time, victory was no surprise, but she understood on a more granular level what the task required.

“How every puzzle has to come together and basically every aspect of the game has to work,” she said, the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen shimmering by her side. “With that awareness, I was even more happy and even more proud of myself, because in 2020 I just felt that I’m lucky, you know. This time, I felt like I really did the work.”

Her winning streak is the longest on the WTA Tour in more than 20 years, equaling Venus Williams’s 35-match streak in 2000.

“Strategy-wise, I mean, going in, honestly it was tough to come up with something with someone who hasn’t lost in a while,” Gauff said.

Gauff, in her first Grand Slam singles final at age 18, sat in her chair courtside with tears streaming down her face after the defeat. She had not dropped a set in the previous rounds of the tournament, but she also had not faced a player ranked in the top 30. The step up proved too big as Gauff lost to Swiatek for the third time in three encounters. She has yet to win a set against her and never threatened to do so on Saturday, breaking her serve just once and losing her own five times.

Swiatek won more than 50 percent of points when returning both Gauff’s first and second serves, and won 62 of the 101 points overall in the final.

Gauff can still leave Paris a champion. She and her compatriot Jessica Pegula will play in the women’s doubles final on Sunday against Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic of France. But Saturday was a deflating day for Gauff, eager to make her parents and two younger brothers in the stands proud. Still, she spoke with poise and perspective through the tears at the awards ceremony and at her post-match news conference.

“I think that’s really where most of the tears come from, because I wanted it so bad for myself, and I know they wanted it so bad for me,” Gauff said.

Swiatek also choked up as she listened to the Polish national anthem. “I just told Coco, ‘Don’t cry,’ and what am I doing now?” Swiatek said with a smile at Gauff before doing her best to comfort her. “Coco, when I was your age, it was my first year on tour, and I had no idea what I was doing.”

Swiatek also offered her support to Ukraine amid the Russian invasion, a message that the crowd applauded at length.

“Stay strong, because the war is still there,” said Swiatek, who wears a ribbon in the colors of the Ukrainian flag on her cap and whose country, Poland, has welcomed millions of Ukrainian refugees.

Swiatek, an avid reader and excellent student during her high school years, is a particularly thoughtful and engaged young champion. Gauff, the prodigy from Delray Beach, Fla., is a particularly thoughtful and engaged runner-up, eager to use her sports success to speak out on social issues, such as gun violence in the United States, which she did after her semifinal victory over Martina Trevisan on Thursday.

Just four years ago, they both played in the French Open girls tournament, with Gauff winning the title and Swiatek losing in the semifinals. But Swiatek, nearly three years Gauff’s elder, has stormed to the front of the women’s game since then with her aggressive style, powerful package of skills and detail-oriented approach to training.

Her reign follows the abdication of Ashleigh Barty, the No. 1 player who retired abruptly in March at age 25 as reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champion. Swiatek, who remains in contact with Barty and never beat her on tour in singles, said she would have liked the opportunity to continue facing her.

“I was thinking about that yesterday,” Swiatek said. “I would love to be in better shape than I was when I was playing against her and just have more variety and more abilities to win.”

For now, she has no clear rival at the top and will have nearly twice as many ranking points as the No. 2, Anett Kontaveit, on Monday.

Swiatek is one of the first tennis players to travel with a full-time performance psychologist, Daria Abramowicz, and she emphasizes mental health. She said she made five visits to the Bois de Boulogne in Paris during the tournament to find green spaces and peace. Despite finishing in the top 10 last year, she switched coaches in the off-season, hiring Tomasz Wiktorowski, who was working as a television analyst in Poland after many years of coaching the retired Polish star Agnieszka Radwanska.

Swiatek had finished the 2021 season in disarray, crying on court before the finish of her final round-robin loss against Maria Sakkari at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico. She said her “battery” was too low to be able to control her emotions in that moment, but she decided she needed a change.

“When I came to the team in December, I said, ‘OK, lets’s start with the strengths, not the weak points,’” Wiktorowski said. “It was, for me, really important for her to focus on what she did well, not just what she needed to improve.”

Her new team has clicked quickly, and she has not lost since February, compiling a 42-3 record in 2022 and winning the titles in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, Rome and now Paris, where she broke through in 2020, winning her first major title without losing a set. She is now 9-1 in tour singles finals.

The 2020 French Open was played in the autumn after being postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was played, for the most part, without spectators, and Swiatek’s thunderous shots echoed through the all-but-empty Chatrier Court in the final rounds. But this has been a much more festive edition.

“With the empty, almost-empty stadium, you hear your every thought, basically,” she said. “Here you can actually lean on the audience, and maybe sometimes if you’re a little bit stressed, just let yourself hear all these things and then you’re not hearing your own thoughts. So that’s pretty nice. I tried to use it that way sometimes.”

There was hubbub aplenty on Saturday as the two young stars arrived on the red clay to shouts of “Coco” but also plenty of support for “Iga” from the Polish fans, a group that included Poland’s most prominent athlete, the soccer star Robert Lewandowski.

Gauff lost her serve in a hurry in the opening game with a series of errors and one very edgy double fault. Swiatek was not at her sharpest early either, but as she has been throughout her streak, she was the more aggressive, proactive player. She was often two steps inside the baseline while Gauff was left defending, often on her back foot, much deeper in the court.

Swiatek took a quick 4-0 lead before Gauff managed to hold serve. There were few extended rallies on Saturday: The longest exchange was 15 shots, and the average rally length under four shots, surprising in light of the defensive skills of both finalists.

Though Gauff managed to break Swiatek’s serve to open the second set and take a 2-0 lead, Swiatek settled herself and played one of her best games of the match to quickly regain control. She won five straight games, creating openings with wide serves and angled groundstrokes and then filling them with winners, while Gauff kept making mistakes with her less reliable forehand, finishing with 19 unforced forehand errors.

Swiatek served for the championship at 5-3 and finished off the victory with a first serve to Gauff’s forehand. The return sailed just long, and Swiatek dropped to her knees and roared with delight toward her team.

She was a French Open champion for the second time. And in light of her age, her drive and her talent, it would come as quite a surprise if Swiatek, with Nadal for a pilot light, does not win at Roland Garros again.



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