Swiatek had finished the 2021 season in disarray, crying on court before the finish of her final round-robin loss against Maria Sakkari at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico. She said her “battery” was too low to be able to control her emotions in that moment, but she decided she needed a change.
“When I came to the team in December, I said, ‘OK, lets’s start with the strengths, not the weak points,’” Wiktorowski said. “It was, for me, really important for her to focus on what she did well, not just what she needed to improve.”
Her new team has clicked quickly, and she has not lost since February, compiling a 42-3 record in 2022 and winning the titles in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, Rome and now Paris, where she broke through in 2020, winning her first major title without losing a set. She is now 9-1 in tour singles finals.
The 2020 French Open was played in the autumn after being postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was played, for the most part, without spectators, and Swiatek’s thunderous shots echoed through the all-but-empty Chatrier Court in the final rounds. But this has been a much more festive edition.
“With the empty, almost-empty stadium, you hear your every thought, basically,” she said. “Here you can actually lean on the audience, and maybe sometimes if you’re a little bit stressed, just let yourself hear all these things and then you’re not hearing your own thoughts. So that’s pretty nice. I tried to use it that way sometimes.”
There was hubbub aplenty on Saturday as the two young stars arrived on the red clay to shouts of “Coco” but also plenty of support for “Iga” from the Polish fans, a group that included Poland’s most prominent athlete, the soccer star Robert Lewandowski.
Gauff lost her serve in a hurry in the opening game with a series of errors and one very edgy double fault. Swiatek was not at her sharpest early either, but as she has been throughout her streak, she was the more aggressive, proactive player. She was often two steps inside the baseline while Gauff was left defending, often on her back foot, much deeper in the court.