The women’s final takes place at the French Open on Saturday as the second Grand Slam of the year comes to a close as far as the females are concerned when Iga Swiatek takes on Coco Gauff on the Philippe Chatrier Court.
These two women have shone bright throughout the tournament and have largely cruised into this final. These two represent the future of the game and might well be about to begin a rivalry which will last for a while.
The world number one went into the tournament as the emphatic favourite to win it and while that brings about a unique pressure, the Polish ace has dealt with that in a confident manner. There has been the odd spell along the way where not everything has gone to plan but Swiatek has come through for the loss of just the one set and in the last couple of matches in particular has looked like the winning machine she has become.
Her winning run now sits at 34 and she will equal the record for consecutive wins this century if she wins this match. She will also win this title for the second time and the fact she plays this final as a Grand Slam champion might be the difference as she isn’t playing to fulfil a lifelong dream or anything like that. She has already done that. Swiatek is head and shoulders above anything we’ve seen in recent times and only needs one more solid performance to add the French Open to her Doha, Indian Wells, Miami and Rome titles.
I don’t think there was ever any doubt that Coco Gauff would be competing in Grand Slam finals from the moment she rocked up as a 15-year-old and saw off Venus Williams on Centre Court at Wimbledon. Whether many expected her to be competing in them as a teenager is another thing but she fully merits her place in this final having played some really solid tennis throughout the tournament, particularly in the quarter final and the semi-final.
You can pick apart the run to the final for Gauff in that she hasn’t played anyone ranked in the top 30 in the world in the entire tournament and now she goes up against the best by a long way. You can only beat what is in front of you though and Gauff has done that and done it well. She has done it in a method that belies her young age with smart, clever tennis combined with some wonderful athleticism and heavy hitting. She’ll need all of that and more to win this final you sense.
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These two young women have met twice in their career to date. Swiatek has won both of them. They first met in Rome last year when the Pole won 76 63 and then their second meeting came in Miami earlier this year when Gauff was blown away 63 61 in 77 minutes. Their Rome meeting was a semi-final so was their biggest meeting to date and probably the one which is most relevant to this particular match given it was their only clay match.
I respect the run of Coco Gauff in this tournament but she’s up a few levels in opponent here and I expect her to come up short. Clearly at 1/7 we’re not going to earn much corn backing the world number one to win the match so we need to think of another way in. That simply has to come in the total games line which might look on the low side for a final at 19.5 but I think it is still a little too high given the dominance of the Polish queen.
Swiatek doesn’t just beat opponents, she absolutely thrashes them. In the last eight and the semi-final she played players ranked higher or just less than Gauff and came through dropping just eight games in total and while Gauff might be competitive for periods in this match, I don’t trust her serve enough to believe she can extend any of the sets. This is a big day for Gauff and so nerves could be an issue and if this gets away from her early she could easily unravel. I don’t see Gauff winning more than seven games in this final.
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