Iga Swiatek vs. Coco Gauff in French Open final

PARIS — After two weeks of play, tennis got “the best women’s final” possible at Roland Garros, where on Saturday, world No. 1 Iga Swiatek and 18-year-old American Coco Gauff meet for the title.

Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, is looking for consecutive win No. 35, which would equal the best run this century, a record held by Venus Williams. More importantly, it would give her a second Grand Slam title and cement her status as the undisputed world No. 1. Gauff, ranked No. 18 in the world, is into her first Grand Slam final after a dream run in which she has not dropped a set.

We will have live updates throughout:


The weather is turning…

The sky has suddenly become overcast at Roland Garros, with thunderstorms forecast at some stage this afternoon. The floodlights are now on at Court Philippe Chatrier as Gauff starts the second set by breaking Swiatek. — Tom Hamilton


Iga takes the first set

With Swiatek taking the opener, 6-1, in just 32 minutes, this marks Gauff’s first dropped set of the tournament. To make worse matters for Gauff, Swiatek has a 35-4 record in her major career after winning the opening set and is 18-0 at the French Open. — D’Arcy Maine


Swiatek so aggressive

That was a brutal set for Coco Gauff. Swiatek has been all over her second serve her. Gauff needs a fast start in the second set to give her the belief. — Simon Cambers


Polish royalty in the stands watching Polish royalty

Soccer player Robert Lewandowski is here in the stadium watching Swiatek. The two are Poland’s most prominent sports stars. Lewandowski has taken a break from national duty to lend his support to Swiatek after he started in the 2-1 win over Wales on Wednesday. — Tom Hamilton


Strong start needed

How important is it to win the opening set in a major final? In good news for Swiatek, who has raced out to an early 3-0 lead, it’s almost a requirement on the women’s side.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the opening-set winner has won 58 of the past 65 women’s major finals and 18 of the past 20 at the French Open. Simona Halep was the last champion in Paris to have recovered from losing the opening set; she rallied to come back over Sloane Stephens to take the trophy in 2018. — D’Arcy Maine


All about Coco’s second serve

If Gauff can play clean on serve, and by that I mean reducing the number of double faults to a minimum, then she has a genuine chance. The problem is Swiatek is going to be looking to get all over her second serve her. So if Gauff wants to win, a high first serve percentage is imperative.

Not surprisingly, Gauff looks nervous. She could do with a few errors early on from Swiatek to help her settle. Not sure if she will get them, though. — Simon Cambers


Setting the stage

The Philippe Chatrier court is still filling up as Swiatek and Gauff walk out to a brilliant reception from the crowd. We’ve already had a visit from Rafa Nadal today ahead of his final tomorrow, and there’s tennis royalty sitting at the front of the president’s box with Billie Jean King in the prime seats. — Tom Hamilton


Warming up


Previewing the match

Why Iga Swiatek will win

Quite simply, Swiatek is the best female player on the planet right now. Since losing to Jelena Ostapenko in February, she has lost just two sets, one in Stuttgart and one in Paris, winning 34 matches in a row and pocketing five titles along the way.

The champion in 2020 when she was 19, Swiatek is a far better player now. The retirement of Ash Barty could have left her bereft, missing a rival and motivation, much as John McEnroe felt when Bjorn Borg quit. Instead, she has grasped the mantle of No. 1 and she seems to actively embrace it.

“I’m using No. 1 to put pressure on my opponents,” she said earlier in the tournament.

Her serve is strong, her forehand is deadly, her backhand solid, her belief unstoppable. Much has been made of the work she and her sports psychologist, Daria Abramowicz, have done off the court, keeping her balanced and putting everything in perspective, but Swiatek’s innate ability to find a solution on court when she’s in trouble is equally impressive.

Aggressive on her opponent’s second serves, where she has won 66% of the points, she’ll put pressure on Gauff, whose Achilles heel is her occasionally brittle second serves. She’ll attack, she’ll attack and then attack some more. It’s hard to see her being stopped. — Simon Cambers

Why Coco Gauff will win

Right from the start of the tournament there has been something about Coco Gauff, a new-found maturity on the court that is matched only by her remarkable maturity off it.

The 18-year-old made the quarterfinals here two years ago and she began her visit to Paris this year by celebrating her high school graduation. From the start, she has looked relaxed, determined and absolutely in her element.

Clay might yet turn out to be her best surface. A brilliant move on all surfaces, it has adapted to sliding and her court coverage has an effortless efficiency.

It’s her first Grand Slam final, so there will be nerves, no doubt. But her game is in such a good spot that she looks to belong at this level. This is likely the first of many Grand Slam finals, surely, not a one-off.

Much will depend on how much control she can get from the baseline. If Swiatek is able to serve well and get her forehand going, it might be tough. But if Gauff extends the rallies and focuses on the backhand-to-backhand exchanges, she can win.

There’s a Grand Slam title at stake but the sense is that Gauff will take it in her stride.

Swiatek “is on a streak right now, obviously,” Gauff said. “I think going in I have nothing to lose and she’s definitely the favorite going into the match on paper. I’m just going to play free and play my best tennis. I think in a Grand Slam final anything can happen.” — Simon Cambers

What will happen?

On paper, Swiatek should win, but it might be close, perhaps three sets. If Gauff serves well, she has a big chance. If not, Swiatek is probably too strong right now. Sit back and enjoy! — Simon Cambers

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