French Open

Swiatek, Paolini set up French Open final showdown


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Swiatek, Paolini set up French Open final showdown

LAST TWO. Iga Swiatek (left) and Jasmine Paolini react during their separate semifinal matches in the 2024 French Open.


World No. 1 Iga Swiatek moves within a win of defending her French Open crown as Italian Jasmine Paolini reaches her first major final 

PARIS, France – Iga Swiatek moved closer to a third successive French Open title by cruising past American third seed Coco Gauff on Thursday, June 6, and she will play Jasmine Paolini in the final after the Italian downed Mirra Andreeva.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek’s 6-2 6-4 semifinal win was her 11th victory in 12 meetings with Gauff, but the 23-year-old Pole had to endure tough moments in the second set before matching her longest winning streak on clay.

“I was pretty intense and putting pressure on Coco,” Swiatek told reporters. “Most of the things overall in my game worked today, so I’m proud of myself.”

Paolini joined her in the final by defeating Russian 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva, 6-3, 6-1, to continue Italy’s golden Roland Garros, with Jannik Sinner also through to the men’s semifinals.

Gauff will rise to No. 2 in the rankings behind Swiatek but the loss to the Pole, who also beat her in the 2022 final and last year’s quarters, was a bitter pill to swallow for the 20-year-old.

“I think she’s progressing a lot,” Swiatek said of the US Open champion.

“Last year’s US Open showed she’s tough. At this age, it’s obvious she’s going to just grow. It’s nice to see her handling everything well around her, because it’s not easy.

“I’m sure we’ll have plenty more intense matches at the highest level.”

Early break

Swiatek broke in the opening game after a forehand error by the ultra aggressive Gauff and she fought off break points in her next two service games before tightening her grip.

Having dropped the first set, Gauff wiped away tears while leading 2-1 in the second after an argument with the umpire over a line decision, but the American recovered to break her opponent for the first time.

“I think it was just overwhelming,” Gauff said.

“I’m losing the match. When you’re playing against her… every point matters against anybody, but especially against her. I think it was just one of those moments, but I overcame it.”

Swiatek struck back immediately before breaking to surge to a 4-3 lead with a powerful winner as a 20th straight victory at Roland Garros came into view for the 23-year-old.

Soaking up the applause on a sun-drenched Court Philippe-Chatrier, Swiatek secured victory on serve and matched her 18-match winning streak on the sport’s slowest surface in 2022.

Swiatek, who saved a match point to beat former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka in the second round, has lost only 14 games since and will be the favorite to triumph.

Paolini’s belief has grown at Roland Garros and the 28-year-old became the first Italian to reach the final on Parisian clay since doubles partner Sara Errani in 2012.

She used her booming forehand to devastating effect and faces the ultimate challenge in Swiatek for a shot at her maiden Grand Slam title.

“Iga is an unbelievable player. So young, but so many achievements and Grand Slams,” Paolini said.

“I have huge respect for her, but my goal is to step on court on Saturday and try to enjoy the match and that moment.”

Andreeva, who beat Paolini in their last meeting in Madrid, failed to make the most of the few opportunities she had and was plagued by errors in her first Grand Slam semifinal.

“I was struggling throughout the match, but it is what it is. It’s just what happened today. I can take a lot of positive from these two weeks.” Andreeva said.

“I think for the next few days I’ll be a bit disappointed, but I’ll be watching the final.” –

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