PARIS ( Associated Press) — Iga Swiatek’s winning streak began to feel like a burden, she said, with all the pressure to keep it going, especially with a Grand Slam title, as it progressed.
As good as his forehand is, his early hit-the-ball reflexes are as efficient as his serve keeps improving, Sweetek needed, above all, a way to shut down the noise, ignore all the stats. Facts, and to find a way to focus – match to match, set to set, game to game, point to point, shot to shot.
During the French Open, she did it off the court (Alexandre Dumas’s “The Three Musketeers” was a choice) and singing in her head on the court (reciting a Dua Lipa song she called “guilty pleasure”). Above all, he allowed his game to rule the day. Thanks to a 6-1, 6-3 victory over 18-year-old American Coco Gauff in Saturday’s final, top-ranked Sweetek left Roland Garros with her second championship – and a run of 35 matches without a loss.
“It’s, like, basically the hardest part of the job, I would say, because you can see in a Grand Slam there are a lot of surprises. It’s not easy to cope with the different atmosphere and pressure.” The hardest part is don’t let yourself think about it and over-analyze and don’t let yourself think about all the numbers and odds.
Ah yes. number. They are impressive.
Sweetek has won their last six tournaments. He has won 56 of his last 58 sets. She is 42-3 this season. He has won 16 sets with a score of 6-0. And her unbeaten streak is one better than that of Serena Williams, 34, the best of all time, and equal to the longest of this century (Williams’ older sister, Venus, had a 35-match run in 2000).
“It’s something special,” Swatek said, “like doing something more than Serena.”
Sweetek has emerged as a key figure in tennis, taking 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena out of action for nearly a year, and in March three-time major winner Ash Barty announced she was turning 25. I will retire. Discard No. 1 ranking.
This allowed Sweetek to rise to the top of the WTA, and he showed he was a worthy resident there.
“She does a good job of taking moments of pressure and really rising to the occasion. And today she rose to the occasion,” said 18th seed Gauff, who is competing in her first Grand Slam final and tournament I didn’t drop a single set. “I do it very well, but today, she was on another level.”
Gauff now leads 0-3 against Swietec.
“The last few months have been really amazing and you totally deserve it,” Gauff told Swietec, then added with a chuckle: “Hopefully we can play each other in more finals, and maybe I may win over you one of these days.”
On the hottest day of the tournament, with temperatures of 82 °F (28 °C), a few puffs of white in the initially blue sky turned into dense, foreboding brown clouds, by the second set, accompanied by a rumble. The match ended 1 hour 8 minutes before the rain came.
Gauff didn’t make the best start: it went 4-0 in the blink of an eye.
With much help from Gauff, Sweetek broke serve from the get-go, which netted the forehand, double-faulted – eliciting a few sighs of “ooh” from the crowd – throwing one forehand into the net, and the other Pushed forehand long.
Not in all cases, of course, but often, Roland Garros spectators favor an underdog or whatever player is running behind – both applied to Gauff. So “Aleez, Coco!” Slogans were being raised. One person shouted, “Coco, you can do this!” His chant-ready, two-syllable first name began to cry over and over.
As things seemed to move away from him, Gough slapped his thigh or covered his eyes, shook his head or looked at his parents in the stands.
What he never did was admit to wobble or anything.
Gauff started the second set only breaking Swietec, and then took a 2-0 lead. Could it turn into a very close contest? Can Gauff push Swietek into the third set?
No, Sweetek quickly recalculated and reestablished himself, breaking back for 2-all as Gauff’s tendency to miscue returned. By the end, Gauff had more unforced errors, 23-16, and fewer winners: 14 for him, 18 for Swietec.
The key to Sweetek’s presence and rapidly growing aura is his calmness on the court. She has traveled on tour with a sports psychologist, who was at Sweetek’s guest box on Saturdays, and works on various elements of her professional and personal life.
This includes an emphasis on maintaining focus and setting priorities, such as the determination that she is still too new in this whole business of attempting to win a Grand Slam title, deciding that last weekend’s Champions League soccer final in Paris It’s best not to participate. , something Nadal did.
Maybe a few years down the road, Sweetek speculates, a night out could be a welcome distraction. For now, Sweetek said, she felt she needed to put all her focus on tennis.
Why mess with success?
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