As it happened: Swiatek claims fifth Grand Slam title, downs Paolini in straight sets

Swiatek continues Roland Garros dominance

PARIS — It was tennis legend Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova who were on ceremonial duty for the trophy presentation. Evert won seven titles here at Roland Garros, while Navratilova won the singles here in 1982 and 1984 – alongside seven titles in women’s doubles, and two in mixed doubles.

“It’s been an intense 15 days, but I’m really proud of myself anyways,” Paolini said.

It was then Swiatek’s turn to address the crowd, but was struggling to speak with hearing her own voice reverberating around the still full stadium. I want to thank my team, my family, not so easy to play so many weeks. It’s amazing to be here, I wait every year to come back here and thank you…” Again she paused with hearing her own voice, turning to Evert for tips. “I was almost out of the tournament in the second round, so thank you for believing in me, and I needed to believe in myself this one was possible.” After another pause… “OKI won’t bore you anymore.”

So that’s the women’s singles done for the year, with the title ending up where most predicted before a ball was hit on these pristine courts here. It’s Swiatek’s world now, at Roland Garros.

Swiatek sweeps aside Paolini to secure 2024 French Open title

Paolini spent the changeover at the end of the first set looking bewildered. Swiatek was doing shadow swings on the baseline. It was like she smelt blood and wanted to get this all wrapped up. She raced through the opening game and then forced two break points on Paolini’s serve. With the crowd chanting “Jas, Jas, Jas!” behind her, she rallied to force the game back to deuce, but loose serving and a wild forehand saw Swiatek break her immediately to take a 2-0 lead.

You could see Swiatek’s experience paying dividends. This was Paolini’s first Grand Slam final, her previous best run in a Slam coming in Australia earlier this year where she made the fourth round. So while all of this was very new, for Swiatek it was familiar territory.

At this stage Paolini had hit just four winners, to Swiatek’s 12, with Paolini’s error count to 30, compared to Swiatek’s 17. Swiatek held to love in the next game, and then broke Paolini in the next to take a commanding 4-0 lead.

Swiatek’s fans have this thing called “Iga’s Bakery”, in honour of all the times she’s “bageled” an opponent (winning a set 6-0). And it looked like she’d be adding another bagel to that list, and her first in a French Open final with Paolini powerless.

Paolini rallied in the fifth game, but couldn’t get that elusive break and with the match under an hour, Swiatek was one game away from the title. But Paolini held serve – much to the joy of the crowd – leaving Swiatek the task of serving out for the championship.

And as Paolini stuck a forehand long, Swiatek sunk to her knees, having won yet another French Open title – this one in just 68 minutes. Swiatek now joins Monica Seles (1990-92) and Justine Henin (2005-07) in winning three French Opens in a row. And she’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Swiatek takes the first set 6-2

The support is pretty well split between the Iga Swiatek and Jasmine Paolini at Roland Garros. There are plenty of red and white Poland flags spread round Court Philippe-Chatrier, but there’s this little pocket of Italian support, next to the presidents’ box, decked out in red, white and green t-shirts who are very vocal.

We had some orchestral music and interpretive dance to kick off proceedings on Court Philippe-Chatrier before the players arrived, but it was to be no early waltz for Swiatek.

After Swiatek won the first point of the match, a French voice shouted out “Come on Jasmine, it’s not over!” but it was fairly even on court. Swiatek targeted Paolini’s backhand in her first service game, and Paolini was forced to save a break point on her serve to level things up. And then came the twist in the tale, as Paolini broke Swiatek in the next game, Swiatek losing the game on a long forehand. Those in the red, green and white of Italy started to believe but Swiatek quickly doused those flames of optimism, breaking back in the next game.

Swiatek held serve, and then broke Paolini the next game to go 4-2 up, Paolini’s serve falling apart and double-faulting on break point with the wind starting to swirl around Philippe-Chatrier. All the while, Swiatek stayed in the zone. It’s fascinating watching her – she is robotic on clay, completely locked in, this incredible winning-machine. Even at the coin-toss, she grows through her motions, taking practise swings, while her opponent stands there like everyone else does listening to the umpire.

It’s helped bring this incredible aura around her, and she backs it up with silverware. Swiatek held to make it 5-2, Paolini winning just four points since that break back in the third game. And it didn’t get any better for the Italian, serving to stay in the set. The radar on her forehand was off, sending them long and giving Swiatek three break points. Swiatek only needed one to pick off Paolini’s serve, taking the first set 6-2 in 34 minutes.

Iga Swiatek will look to make it three French Open titles on the bounce when she faces Jasmine Paolini in the women’s singles final at Roland Garros on Saturday.

Swiatek is the dominant force on clay – having won three of the past five titles at Roland Garros. She’s closing in on Chris Evert’s record of seven French Open singles titles here, and the scary thing? Swiatek is just 23. A triumph today, and she’ll be the first to win three in a row since Justine Henin’s trio of titles from 2005 to 2007.

But Paolini, 28, will be quietly confident. She’s the underdog here but has ripped up the form book on her journey to the final, including that tricky semifinal tie against 17-year-old prodigy Mirra Andreeva.

Swiatek knows Roland Garros well, and is threatening her own Rafael Nadal-style dominance of the Suzanne-Lenglen trophy. She won here in 2020, 2022 and 2023 and is favourite to take yet another crown this year. But she was nearly knocked out in the second round, when she had to save match point against Naomi Osaka. That threw her, but that near-miss proved to be the catalyst for a remarkable run of form, including a 40-minute win over Anastasia Potapova in the fourth round – the quickest of her tour-level career. The semifinal saw her face US Open champion Coco Gauff, but Swiatek came through that too in straight sets.

But as far Nadal comparisons? She’s not yet ready to buy into that. “We’ll see in 14 years if the journey is similar. I would never expect anybody to compare me to Rafa because for me he’s above everybody, and he’s a total legend,” Swiatek said. “I’m proud of myself that I’m playing consistently here and that I’m mentioned in the same sentence as Rafa. That’s cool.”

Paolini would have been tipped by few coming into the tournament, but she’s at the forefront of this incredible Italian renaissance in tennis. Jannik Sinner, on the men’s side, will be crowned world No.1 on Monday, and reached the semifinal of the men’s draw here. Paolini has Swiatek in her way on the women’s singles side and is in the final alongside Sara Errani in the women’s doubles on Sunday. Italy also have Andrea Vavassori and Simone Bolelli in the men’s doubles later on Saturday.

For Paolini, she needed three sets to get past Bianca Andreescu and Elina Avanesyan in the third and fourth rounds, before upsetting 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the quarterfinals. The semifinal was tipped to be one decided by the flip of a coin, but she came through in straight sets against Andreeva. Now comes her biggest test.

“[Swiatek’s] doing well week by week, and that’s not easy,” Paolini said. “So I have huge respect for her, but I would like, my goal is to step on court Saturday and try to enjoy the match and to enjoy that moment and to try to play a good match and to make a good performance on court, you know, yeah.”

It’s a beautiful day at Roland Garros, so expect plenty of topspin, the ball to bounce high, and lightning-quick rallies. Swiatek is the favourite, but Paolini will head into this with plenty of belief she can secure one of the biggest upsets in recent times.

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