UNSTOPPABLE: SWIATEK AND NADAL CROWNED IN PARIS


Photographs: Getty Images

The second major of the year has come to a close and arguably the year’s two best players were the last left standing in Paris.


First off was the all-conquering Iga Swiatek, who lifted her second Coupe Suzanne Lenglen in three years.


Swiatek faced off against 18-year-old American Coco Gauff in the final on Court Philippe Chatrier, coming away with a convincing 6-3, 6-1 victory.


The world No. 1 was expected to win this tournament before it had even started, such has been her dominance of late. When her main rivals for the trophy - Barbora Krejcikova and Ons Jabeur - were eliminated in the opening round, a Swiatek victory was all but certain.


Despite all of the outside noise and media pressure, Swiatek rose to the occasion without much of a blemish to her name. The Pole dropped just one set and 33 games en route to her second major title by the age of 21.


Swiatek’s toughest assignment came at the hands of the talented 19-year-old Zheng Qinwen of China. Zheng became just the second player to take a set off of Swiatek on clay in 2022 after Ludmilla Samsonova achieved it in Stuttgart.


Zheng would go on to lose the match 7-6(5), 0-6, 2-6 but showed she is one to watch in the future after challenging the world No. 1 and earning a second-round win over Simona Halep.


The final between Swiatek and Gauff had the potential to be a classic, but the Pole was simply too good for the American.


Gauff hadn’t dropped a set on her way to the final and had only conceded 38 games through all of her matches. If anyone had a chance of defeating Swiatek, it was her.


Unfortunately for Gauff, she ran into arguably the best player on the planet - a player that has now won 35 games and six titles in a row.


Swiatek’s winning streak is the equal third longest (tied with Venus Williams) on the WTA Tour since 1990 and only trails Monica Seles (36) and Martina Hingis (37) for the outright lead.


Since inheriting the No. 1 ranking from Ash Barty after her well-publicised retirement, Swiatek has silenced any doubt about her legitimacy as the best player in the world and looks unbeatable at the moment.


A worthy champion and a two-time major winner by the age of 21, the sky is truly the limit for Swiatek.


As a potentially dominant career is getting underway in the form of Swiatek, another is nearing the end.


But you wouldn’t know it by watching.


Defying father time again was the unstoppable King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, who lifted a record 22nd major trophy and an unfathomable 14th Coupe des Mousquetaires in the French capital.


The Spaniard defeated Norwegian Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in two hours and 18 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier to cap off another successful Roland Garros campaign.


Nadal also became the fifth player to win 300 matches at the majors, joining fellow immortals Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Martina Navratilova in the exclusive club.


Nadal’s 14th French Open crown may go down as one of his best after facing stiff competition and injury concerns throughout.


The Spaniard’s troublesome foot came to the fore again, with Nadal even admitting he never knows which game or tournament will be his last - such is the nature of the discomfort.


However, he put those fears aside and played the kind of dominant clay-court tennis he is renowned for.


Nadal was pushed to the brink in the fourth round by the ever-improving Felix Auger-Aliassime, slugging out a five-set victory in nearly four and a half hours on court. It didn’t get any easier for Nadal in the quarters, enduring another four-hour match with Djokovic.


The semi-final between Nadal and Alexander Zverev had the potential to be one of the matches of the year before the German retired hurt after a nasty fall.


The match was only in the second set and had already lasted three hours and 13 minutes before the injury.


After spending over 11 hours on court in his previous three matches, Nadal wasn’t going to waste any time in the final.


The Spaniard looked like a man on a mission and Ruud simply didn’t have an answer for him, collapsing in the final set without winning a game.


Nadal now holds a two-trophy lead over Djokovic and Federer in the all-time major winners’ list but looks unlikely to add to the lead in June. Nadal has hinted at missing Wimbledon due to his troublesome foot injury that kept him on ice for a large chunk of 2021.


For now, he can enjoy yet another successful run in Paris.