Iga Swiatek overwhelms Coco Gauff to reach third straight French Open final

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Iga Swiatek overwhelms Coco Gauff to reach third straight French Open final

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Iga Swiatek equalled her 18-match winning streak on clay
Iga Swiatek equalled her 18-match winning streak on clayReuters
Defending champion Iga Swiatek (23) took a big step towards a third successive French Open title by dismantling teary American third seed Coco Gauff (20) 6-2, 6-4 in the semi-final on Thursday to match her longest winning streak on clay.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek also extended her dominance over Gauff by sealing an 11th victory in 12 meetings and will head into a Saturday showdown with either 12th seed Jasmine Paolini or 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva.

"It was intense. In the second set it was tight because we were breaking each other. I was consistent with my tactics and went for it," Swiatek said.

Defeat was a big blow for Gauff, who was beaten by Swiatek in the 2022 final as well as last year's quarter-finals, but she leaves Paris knowing that she will climb to number two in the world rankings on Monday.

"I think she's progressing a lot," Swiatek said of the U.S. Open champion.

"You can see by her results. Last year's U.S. Open showed she's tough. At this age, it's obvious she's going to just grow. It's nice to see her handling everything well around her, because it's not easy.

"I'm sure we'll have plenty more intense matches at the highest level. Coco is one of the most consistent players out there."

Swiatek drew first blood by breaking in the opening game of the contest after a forehand error by the ultra aggressive Gauff and the top-seeded Pole fought off break points in her next two service games before tightening her grip.

Having dropped the first set following an error, Gauff wiped away tears while up 2-1 in the second after an argument with the umpire over a contentious line call, but the American recovered to break her opponent for the first time.

However, Swiatek struck back immediately before holding and breaking to surge to a 4-3 lead with a powerful winner as a 20th straight victory at Roland Garros appeared in sight for the Pole at her favourite hunting ground.

Soaking up the applause at a sun-drenched Court Philippe-Chatrier, Madrid and Rome champion Swiatek secured victory on serve and equalled her 18-match winning streak on the sport's slowest surface between Stuttgart and Warsaw in 2022.

Swiatek, who saved a match point to beat former world number one Naomi Osaka in the second round, has lost 14 games since and will be the favourite to prevail at the weekend.

"For sure something changed. I adjusted better to the court. It's not easy to play the first matches at a Grand Slam because the atmosphere is different than other tournaments," she said.

"Against Naomi I didn't have time to get into it. She was intense from the beginning and put pressure on me. I'm happy I handled it well.

"After that the weather changed. It helps my game I feel. I just gained confidence, I would say."

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