Coco Gauff wasn't supposed to be here. Though Gauff showed promise in her young career, she entered the French Open as the No. 18 seed. Upsets plagued the women's side of the bracket, leaving a path for Gauff to make a deep run at the event. She did just that.
Gauff, 18, was masterful in the six matches leading up to the final. She didn't drop a single set as she took down veterans twice her age, eliminated fellow American Sloane Stephens and cruised to a win over Martina Trevisan in the semifinals.
Then, she ran into Iga Swiatek. Though Gauff had her moments Saturday, Swiatek was too powerful a force once she found her groove. Swiatek, 21, cruised to a win over Gauff 6-1, 6-3 to win the 2022 French Open. In her first Grand Slam singles final, Gauff finished as the runner up.
There's no shame in losing to Swiatek right now. She came into Saturday's match on a 34-match win streak, one of the best streaks in professional tennis since 2000. At the end of the day, Swiatek tied Venus Williams for the longest win streak since 2000. Swiatek appeared unbeatable the entire event, dropping just one set en route to two French Open wins in the last three years. She played aggressively, bullying her competitors and never shying away from a risk.
Gauff played nervous early in the match, giving away points to Swiatek due to unforced errors. At the start of the second set, Gauff recovered. She took the first two games from Swiatek in the second set. At that point, Swiatek found her swing and took over the match.
Coco Gauff makes statement despite loss in French Open final
Though she lost, this feels like Gauff’s official induction into tennis adulthood. Gone is the 15-year-old we saw blast her way into the public consciousness with an unexpected run at Wimbledon in 2018. Well, not gone, but she’s different now. She had stars in her eyes when she faced — and defeated — her idol, Venus Williams at the All-England Club. Now she’s an established competitor, one we watched grow as a player right before our eyes. It seemed like a given that Gauff would one day win a Grand Slam. That hasn't changed after Saturday's match.
What can be said about Swiatek can also be said about Gauff: This is only the beginning. With her appearance Saturday, Gauff became the youngest woman to reach a Grand Slam final in 18 years. She wasn't able to pick up her first finals win this time, but her future is bright, and it shouldn't be long before she gets another chance to claim that first Grand Slam title.
Swiatek and her 35-match win streak may present a significant obstacle when the time comes. But streaks exist to be broken.