Swiatek to face Paolini in Paris final after dominating Gauff

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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.
World number one Swiatek will face Italian 12th seed Jasmine Paolini in Saturday’s final.
Poland’s Swiatek, 23, broke Gauff 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 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.”
Paolini, 28, beat unseeded 17-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva 6-3 6-1 in the second semi-final on Thursday.
Gauff cannot end Swiatek hex
Whatever happened between Swiatek and Gauff, the pair were still going to leave Roland Garros as the leading 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 claimed the pressure was on Swiatek.
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 into 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 Paolini stop Swiatek?
The question before the tournament was whether anyone 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 Potapova in the fourth round and made light work of 2019 finalist Marketa Vondrousova in the quarter-finals.
Paolini is the final player in Swiatek’s way after reaching a maiden major singles final with a powerful performance against Andreeva.
The late-blooming Italian’s run at Roland Garros is the latest surprise in a season where she has registered several career milestones.
Paolini had never previously gone beyond the second round in Paris, but has built on lifting the first WTA 1,000 title of her career in Dubai and earning notable wins over some established top-20 players.
After beating third seed Elena Rybakina in the quarter-finals, she continued to use her powerful forehand to draw mistakes from 38th-ranked Andreeva.
The teenager, who was the youngest Grand Slam semi-finalist since Martina Hingis at the 1997 US Open, was visibly emotional as the second set ran away from her.
“I learned a bit later than other players maybe but to dream is the most important thing in sport and life. I’m happy I could dream this moment,” Paolini, who won the final five games of the match, said.



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