PARIS: Iga Swiatek romped into her second French Open final on Thursday and will face Coco Gauff for the title after the teenager became the youngest Grand Slam finalist since 2004.
World No. 1 Swiatek, the 2020 Roland Garros champion, cruised to a dominant 6-2, 6-1 semifinal victory over Russian Daria Kasatkina after just 64 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier.
That extended her unbeaten streak to 34 matches.
Swiatek will equal Venus Williams’ record for the longest women’s winning run since 2000 if she beats 18-year-old Gauff, who brushed aside Martina Trevisan 6-3, 6-1, on Saturday.
“I’m so grateful. It’s easier to play matches with this kind of support,” Swiatek, who won 10 of the last 11 games, said in her on-court interview.
“It’s surprising this week how much they’re supporting me.
“I try to treat every match in the same way because when I think about how it’s the biggest match of the season so far, it stresses me out.”
It will be the 21-year-old’s second major final, as she looks to win a sixth consecutive WTA title.
The Polish star has stormed up the rankings this season, moving from world No. 7 to the summit during her remarkable run.
Swiatek hammered 22 winners past her opponent and she has still lost only one set in the tournament, against Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen in the fourth round.
Kasatkina, the 20th seed, won her first clash with Swiatek on the Eastbourne grass last year, but has lost all four of their meetings in 2022 in straight sets, without winning more than five games in a match.
After a quick opening hold from Swiatek, both players struggled on serve and traded breaks.
But Kasatkina was still finding it difficult to live with the consistent groundstrokes of her opponent and slipped 4-2 behind after horribly mishitting what should have been a simple winner at the net wide of the tramlines.
Swiatek had the set wrapped up just minutes later as a backhand return winner sealed a break to love.
Kasatkina managed to cling onto her first service game in the second set, but Swiatek was on a roll and forged 3-1 ahead when Kasatkina blazed long.
That effectively ended the semifinal as a contest, and top seed Swiatek finished it off with a run of five straight games, capped by her first ace on her first match point.
Gauff brushed aside Trevisan in a nervous match which saw both players featuring in a major semifinal for the first time.
Gauff is the youngest Grand Slam finalist since Maria Sharapova stunned Serena Williams to win Wimbledon 18 years ago.
“I think I’m a little bit in shock right now,” said 2018 junior champion Gauff. I didn’t know how to react after the match. I’m lost for words.”
The players made 37 unforced errors between them in a poor first set before Gauff upped her game to race through the second.
The 18th seed will be a heavy underdog against Swiatek, but says she is not feeling the pressure.
“It’s a Grand Slam final but there are so many things going on in the world right now, especially in the US, so I don’t think it’s worth stressing about it,” said Gauff, referring to the deadly school shooting in Texas last month, after writing “peace, end gun violence” on a courtside camera.
Gauff, who burst onto the scene by reaching the Wimbledon fourth round as a 15-year-old three years ago, has still not lost a set over the fortnight in Paris.
In Friday’s men’s semifinals, 13-time champion Rafael Nadal will take on third seed Alexander Zverev before Norwegian Casper Ruud plays Croatia’s Marin Cilic.
Second seeds Ena Shibahara and Wesley Koolhof won the mixed doubles title earlier Thursday with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 victory over Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway and Belgium’s Joran Vliegen.