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Coco Gauff finishes as singles runner-up to Iga Swiatek at 2022 Roland Garros
Though she won’t be leaving Roland Garros as the singles champion, American teenager Coco Gauff will never forget Paris.
Beaten Saturday in her first Grand Slam singles final by world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, 6-1, 6-3, Gauff is nonetheless keeping her history-making major run in perspective.
"I'm super proud of myself. Feeling a lot of emotions right now. A mix of happiness and sadness. I'm going to take this experience and hopefully learn from it and get better," Gauff told reporters after the match.
"I know I've been saying a lot, 'Oh, it's just a tennis match, it doesn't matter.' Really, that's what I believe. ... With the emotions now, I'm feeling it a lot, but tomorrow I'm going to wake up and be really proud of myself."
The youngest Grand Slam finalist since a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova stormed to the Wimbledon title in 2004, Gauff was the third American woman aged 19 or younger to reach the final at Roland Garros, following in the footsteps of Chris Evert (1973) and Andrea Jaeger (1982).
Swiatek has now won six straight WTA titles dating back to February, and 35 straight matches; she and Venus Williams now share the longest WTA winning streak this century, with Williams having also won 35 straight matches in 2000.
“What you’ve done on tour the past couple of months has truly been amazing and you totally deserve it,” Gauff told Swiatek in the trophy ceremony. “Hopefully, we can play each other in more finals and I can get a win over you one of these days.”
Later, she added: "Now that I have seen the level, this level of No. 1 and 35 matches, I know that what I have to do. Hopefully, next time, I'm sure I'm going to play her in another final and hopefully it's a different result."
Read more at usta.com: Gauff's run to the final, by the numbers
Swiatek also defeated an American (Sofia Kenin) to win her first Roland Garros title, and against Gauff, Poland’s top player raced out of the gates. She won the first four games of the match in 20 minutes and hardly looked back. Her only blip came early in the second set: Swiatek made five unforced errors in the first two games to help Gauff lead 2-0, but she reset well and won six of the next seven games.
Swiatek hit 18 winners to 16 unforced errors in 68 minutes, and broke Gauff's serve five times in total. Racking up 23 unforced errors to 14 winners, Gauff wasn't able to overcome her slow start, as Swiatek's assured combination of depth and spin off her groundstrokes forced her into mistakes.
"I think for the most part I think that Iga was just too good today. I mean, it's one of those matches that, yes, I, in some moments, could have played better. But she really didn't give me anything. Every time I thought I hit a good ball, it wasn't," Gauff said. "There is a reason why she's on a winning streak. I'm just glad that I really tried my best today.
"I think even if I played someone else, who probably wasn't on a winning streak or whatever, I think I would have been just as nervous and believed just as much. But I think she does a good job of taking the pressure moments and really rising to the occasion, and today she rose to the occasion."
With a combined age of 39, this was the youngest singles final at Roland Garros since a 19-year-old Iva Majoli upset 16-year-old world No. 1 Martina Hingis in 1997. Gauff was bidding to become the fifth-youngest singles champion in Paris in the Open Era, and the first teenager to beat a world No. 1 at a major in 13 years.
Gauff nonetheless will have another chance to leave Paris with a championship trophy. She and compatriot Jessica Pegula will play France’s Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic for the doubles title on Sunday.
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