Coco Gauff sees Iga Swiatek as the favourite in the French Open final but promised to play with freedom as the outcome at Roland Garros will not change her life either way.
The teenager breezed past Martina Trevisan in straight sets in Paris on Thursday, with the 18-year-old reaching the showpiece on Saturday without dropping a set.
In the Open era, she is just the sixth American to reach the final two at Roland Garros without losing a set, while she also became the third-youngest grand slam finalist this century.
The achievements continued to come in for Gauff, who is the youngest American female finalist in Paris since Monica Seles in 1991 and the youngest overall since Kim Clijsters in 2001.
However, the in-form Swiatek stands in her way of a first major title, with the world number one heading into the contest on a remarkable 34-match winning run.
The Pole is the first player to reach six or more finals on the WTA Tour in the first six months of the year since Serena Williams in 2013 (seven), and Gauff feels she has nothing to lose against Swiatek.
"It definitely means a lot. I'm so happy, and definitely – I wasn't expecting it," she said after defeating Trevisan.
"I'm going to be honest. This year I hadn't had the best results going into this. So it wasn't expected at all, really.
"Playing Iga, she's on a streak right now obviously, and I think going in I have nothing to lose and she's definitely the favourite going into the match on paper.
"But I think that going in, I'm just going to play free and play my best tennis. I think in a grand slam final anything can happen. If I do lift the trophy, honestly, I don't think my life is going to change really.
"I know it sounds kind of bad to say that, but the people who love me are still going to love me regardless if I lift the trophy or not.
"It will probably get me more attention from the people around the world. But in general, I'm not worried about how my life is going to change because I really don't think it's going to change."
3 - Cori #Gauff is the third youngest Grand Slam finalist in 2000s, only older than Maria #Sharapova in #Wimbledon 2004 and Kim #Clijsters at the #RolandGarros 2001. Inheritance. #RolandGarros2022 @WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/gIbow7JB9u— OptaAce (@OptaAce) June 2, 2022
Victory for Gauff would make her the seventh player to win the girls' and women's singles titles in Paris, after lifting the junior title just four years ago.
Swiatek subsequently won the Wimbledon junior title the same season, and Gauff is delighted the pair's paths will cross again at senior level.
"I knew her from juniors, but we never spoke really until we both got on tour," she added. "I remember here specifically I was actually preparing to play her in the final, and then she had a match point against my – well, not my doubles partner this tournament, but normally Caty McNally, and Caty saved a match point against her and I ended up playing Caty in the final.
"I just remember that from the juniors. Obviously going on the tour, we spoke and she's super nice. I think that's something I really admire about her.
"I have known Iga – I don't know her well-well, but I have known her since she was probably ranked lower, and now that she's [world] number one, and I will say that nothing has really changed other than her tennis.
"But behind the scenes, she's as nice as I think you guys see in the press conferences. I think that's really important and rare to see, so I definitely congratulate her on that aspect."
Junior memories aside, Gauff believes she is more than ready to win a grand slam but insists she will not put pressure on herself.
"I think that version was ready to win a slam, but I think she almost wanted it too much, that she put way too much pressure on herself," she said of her comments previously about winning a major.
"Now I'm definitely ready to win one but I'm not putting pressure on myself to win one. I think there's a fine line between believing in yourself and almost pushing yourself too much.
"I think at that moment I was pushing myself too much to do the results, whereas when I was in the quarter-final, I didn't even enjoy the moment. I didn't even care really.
"Now, being in the final, I'm enjoying it. I think there is definitely a difference between [being] ready and almost wanting it too much. I think at that moment I wanted it too much, whereas now I definitely want it.
"But also, it's not going to be the end of the world if it doesn't happen for me."