Swiatek downs Paolini for 4th French Open title

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PARIS — Iga Swiatek continued her relentless dominance on clay as she won her fourth French Open title and fifth Grand Slam by trouncing Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-1 at Roland Garros on Saturday.

It took Swiatek just 68 minutes to close this final out in an utterly ruthless display against Paolini, who was in her first Grand Slam final.

Swiatek becomes the third woman to win three French Open titles in a row in the Open era — joining Monica Seles (1990-92) and Justine Henin (2005-07).

And it was Swiatek’s fourth French Open title in five years, having triumphed in 2020, 2022, 2023 and now 2024. At just 23 years old, she’s now three off equaling Chris Evert’s record of seven women’s singles titles at Roland Garros. Fittingly, it was Evert and Martina Navratilova who handed over the Suzanne Lenglen trophy to the new master of clay.

“I think looking at the whole situation and the fact that during the finals there is sometimes a lot of pressure, I think it was a really good match,” Swiatek said. “Obviously, I mean, I got broken at the beginning, so it wasn’t maybe perfect, but I think the level was pretty high. It wasn’t so easy as the score says. Yeah, I think I played pretty well considering all these facts and the pressure.”

She added: “When I talk about pressure, I usually put pressure on myself because of pressure of the outside. Obviously I’m a perfectionist, so there is always pressure behind me. But I think I’m fine with handling my own pressure. It’s when the pressure from the outside hits me, then it’s a little bit worse. But I managed it really well at this tournament.

“It was an emotional win because I felt, you know, a lot of stress yesterday and today in the morning. And I knew if I’m going to just focus on tennis, I can kind of fight through it, and at the end it all went how I wanted. So I just felt really proud of myself.”

Paolini, in contrast, was left saying the final against Swiatek was the “most challenging match” of her career.

Swiatek was the overwhelming favorite heading into the final. She had to survive a match point in her second-round tie with Naomi Osaka, but from there, she was in complete control — including winning her fourth-round match against Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0 in just 40 minutes. She then overcame 2023 Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova in the quarterfinals and Coco Gauff in the final four, winning that 6-2, 6-4.

Paolini was an outsider for the title heading into the competition, but she put together a brilliant run that included knocking out 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the quarterfinals and then 17-year-old prodigy Mirra Andreeva in the semifinals.

After a tense start, Paolini broke Swiatek in the third game, only for Swiatek to then find her rhythm, closing out the first set 6-2 with Paolini winning just a further four points after breaking Swiatek back in the third game. In the second set, Swiatek showed no signs of slowing up, taking it 6-1 in a ruthless display.

The only hiccup for Swiatek was her struggling to talk in the postmatch ceremony as she was distracted by the sound of her own voice reverberating around Philippe Chatrier, but she had Evert on hand for some broadcasting advice. But when it comes to being on court, she knows how to navigate anything and everything thrown at her.

Afterward, she referred to that Osaka match again as being the turning point in her tournament. “I have plenty of experiences where I felt stress or I knew that this match is going to be really important and a high-pressure match,” she said. “But I was able to manage it, and then you can just use it when you have next situations like that.

“Because it’s not like, oh, it’s my fifth Grand Slam final, I’ll have no stress, you know, because of that. Usually, it doesn’t work like that. Yeah, so for sure the experience helps. [But] it gives me even more positive feelings that I manage everything properly.”

For Paolini, she said she enjoyed the experience and was pleased with what she had achieved at Roland Garros, with her ranking up to a career-high No. 7 in the world. But Swiatek was just on another level.

“Iga is playing unbelievable here; she’s taking the balls early and can defend really well,” Paolini said. “To play her here is something different. She’s already won four titles at 23 years old; these numbers are not normal. I’ve never played someone with this intensity before in my life. It’s unbelievable. She’s an unbelievable player. It was the most challenging match I’ve played in my career.”

Paolini now resets ahead of her women’s doubles final Sunday, where she’ll play alongside Sara Errani against Gauff and Katerina Siniakova.

For Swiatek, she’ll turn her attention to Wimbledon and grass, the last remaining surface on which she has yet to win a Grand Slam.

“I felt last year I could adapt quicker to grass, but we need to take care of my physicality too,” Swiatek said. “We’ll see what the plans are. But the biggest progress I can make on grass is using my serve better, but I don’t expect a lot as tennis is different on grass. Let’s see; I’ll work hard to play better there.”

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