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French Open Day 12: Swiatek dominates Gauff to set up Paolini final

Iga Swiatek continued her ruthless streak at Roland Garros, beating Coco Gauff in straight sets to edge closer to her third consecutive French Open title.

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Breaking in the opening game, Swiatek looked supreme throughout, marching to Saturday’s final 6-2 6-4.

“I stuck with my tactics, didn’t overthink things and just went for it,” Swiatek said.

“It was intense, especially in the second set but I’m happy.”

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Gauff has lost 11 of her 12 meetings with the Pole and after a nervous, error-strewn start, the contest completely got away from the American.

The world number one is hoping to join Monica Seles and Justine Henin in the elite club of players to have won three Roland Garros titles in a row. 

Gauff, with a spring in her step after her quarter-final triumph over Ons Jabeur, painted a ‘nothing to lose’ narrative before the game, suggesting the pressure was all on Swiatek.

However, the American’s cagey start immediately handed the top seed the initiative, with Gauff hitting 18 unforced errors in the first set alone. 

The US Open Champion was apoplectic after a row with umpire Aurelie Tourte over a line call. Fighting back the tears, the outburst appeared to get some frustration out the American’s system as she surged to a break to put her 3-1 up in the second.

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Despite the crowd cheering on Gauff, the top seed ruthlessly broke back immediately and took the following four games. 

It truly was the performance of a champion with Swiatek managing to raise her already high level to quell the briefly invigorated Gauff. 

With three match points going begging, Swiatek calmly held serve to sure up the match and continue her dominance over the 20-year-old. 

Jasmine Paolini is the only player standing in her way, beating 17-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva 6-3, 6-1 in the other semi-final.

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Andreeva, who beat the 28-year-old Italian just over a month ago in Madrid, was teary by the end as Paolini raced to the finish line winning the final five games. 

The 12th seed triumphed over an inconsistent Elena Rybakina on Wednesday afternoon and looked in sparkling form today under the sun. 

Across the net was giant-slayer and fellow grand slam semi-final newbie Mirra Andreeva.

The 17-year-old beat an out-of-sorts Aryna Sabalenka yesterday and hoped to become the youngest grand slam finalist since Martina Hingis at the 1997 US Open. 

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The Italian’s forehand looked excellent all afternoon, repeatedly forcing errors out of the young Russian.

It caps off an incredible run of form for the Italian who has risen up the rankings, winning her maiden WTA 1000 in Dubai just four months ago. 

Paolini is the first Italian woman to reach a Grand Slam final since the 2015 US Open, and the first to do so at Roland Garros since her doubles partner Sara Errani 12 years ago.

Compatriot Jannik Sinner will hope to join her in the final, as he takes on Wimbledon Champion Carlos Alcaraz tomorrow afternoon. 

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While the 28-year-old has carefully managed to get past a variety of opponents this past fortnight, I fear she may fall rather hard at this final hurdle. 

Prediction: Swiatek to win 6-2 6-3 (67 minutes).

Author

  • Sam France

    Sam France is an avid tennis watcher and player, frequently found passionately raving about the WTA. A journalist with a passion for all things sport, culture, and politics, Sam is a committed Radio 4 listener. A big WSL fan, Sam is still searching for a Guro Reiten autograph. @SamFrance28