Swiatek continues Gauff dominance to reach final

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Image caption: Iga Swiatek is aiming for her fifth Grand Slam title

Iga Swiatek continued her dominance over Coco Gauff to reach the French Open final and move closer to a third straight title at Roland Garros.
Top seed Swiatek, 23, broke in the first game of the match and, apart from briefly losing serve in the second set, retained control to win 6-2 6-4.
Third seed Gauff saved three match points before Poland’s Swiatek closed out victory.

The 20-year-old American has now lost 11 of her 12 matches against the world number one.
“It was intense, especially in the second set but I’m happy,” said Swiatek.
“I stuck with my tactics, didn’t overthink things and just went for it.”
Swiatek will face Italian 12th seed Jasmine Paolini or unseeded 17-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva in Saturday’s final.
Paolini, 28, and Andreeva meet in the second semi-final later on Thursday.
Gauff cannot end Swiatek hex
Whatever happened between Swiatek and Gauff, the pair were still going to leave Roland Garros as the best two women’s players in the world rankings.
But the outcome again illustrated the gulf between them when they face each other.
US Open champion Gauff talked bullishly after beating three-time major finalist Ons Jabeur in the quarter-finals, saying she had “nothing to lose” and attempted to put the pressure on her opponent.
That is not how it panned out. Gauff looked overcome by nerves from the start and paid the price.
Trying to land heavily with her forehand in the rallies did not come off, with a stream of errors from that side doing a lot of the work for Swiatek.
Gauff made 18 unforced errors in a first set where Swiatek only needed to hit two winners and the American’s body language showed she was feeling the pressure.
After going for a bathroom break to gather her thoughts, Gauff had to dig deep to hold serve at the start of the second set before a row with umpire Aurelie Tourte over a line call sparked her into life.
An emotional Gauff appeared to wipe away tears between points in the next game – but the energy fuelled her and led to her breaking Swiatek’s serve for a 3-1 lead.
However, Gauff could not consolidate and, although she showed more resistance towards the end, she has more problem-solving to do about how to end Swiatek’s hex.
Can Swiatek be stopped?
The question before the tournament was who could stop Swiatek becoming only the third woman to win three French Open titles in a row.
She is aiming to join Monica Seles (1990–1992) and Justine Henin (2005–2007) as the only women to achieve the feat in the Open era.
Only former world number Naomi Osaka, who had little previous form on clay and won her four majors on hard courts, has come close to stopping her.
Swiatek has gone up several gears since that titanic second-round contest – where she saved a match point before winning in three sets.
She did not drop a game in a 40-minute thrashing against Anastasia Potopova in the fourth round and made light work of 2019 finalist Marketa Vondrousova in the quarter-finals.
While Swiatek was not as dominant against Gauff in terms of the scoreline, there always felt very little prospect she would lose.
“Something changed [after the match against Osaka]. I just adjusted better to the court,” Swiatek said.

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