"I had a lot of anxiety attacks, it felt like life or death" - Coco Gauff on facing Iga Swiatek in maiden Grand Slam final at French Open 2022

Iga Swiatek (L) and Coco Gauff
Iga Swiatek (L) and Coco Gauff

Coco Gauff recently opened up about facing Iga Swiatek in the final of the 2022 French Open.

In the first Grand Slam final of her career, Gauff took the court against World No. 1 Swiatek, ranked 23rd in the WTA singles rankings. Moreover, she was on a two-match losing streak against the Pole, and by the time the final was over, that streak had extended to three matches.

Swiatek hardly wasted any time to dash any hopes that Gauff had before stepping on the dirt at Estade Roland Garros on June 4, 2022. She broke the American five times and induced a staggering 23 unforced errors from the teen to race to a 6-1, 6-3 win in less than 70 minutes.

It was ecstasy for Swiatek and agony for Gauff as the former was crowned champion in Paris for the second time whereas the latter cried her way out of the stadium.

Two years later, Gauff is a Grand Slam champion herself and ranked third in the women's singles world rankings. However, she is still reminded of the horrors of the critical days leading up to that final against Swiatek.

In a recent interview with Time Magazine, the reigning US Open champion revealed that she had accepted defeat before her French Open title clash against Swiatek even began.

"I had a lot of anxiety attacks before that final, it felt like life or death it felt hard to breathe. I lost that match before I stepped on the court," she said.

Gauff had announced herself to the tennis world in grand fashion by reaching as far as the pre-quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2019 after starting in the qualifiers as a 16-year-old. But she struggled to impress in the years following the breakthrough and that added to the psychological pressure.

“I was trying to live up to what other people wanted for me. That got in my head a little bit,” Coco Gauff added.

Coco Gauff still hasn't found a way to beat Iga Swiatek

Iga Swiatek (L) and Coco Gauff
Iga Swiatek (L) and Coco Gauff

Coco Gauff has yet to find a way to beat Iga Swiatek on the tennis courts as her head-to-head disadvantage has worsened to 1-9 since the 2022 French Open final.

Gauff's solitary win over Swiatek came when she defeated her 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals of the 2023 Cincinnati Open en route to a title-winning finish. This was notably her eighth meeting with Swiatek and also the only time when the American could clinch a set from the World No. 1. The remaining nine duels between the two have ended in straight sets in Swiatek's favor.

Coco Gauff's struggle against Swiatek can be understood a little bit by the four-time Grand Slam champion's ability to unsettle the baseliners with her spin and ability to find acute angles.

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