Tennis: Clay queen Iga Swiatek cruises to French Open three-peat ...

9 Jun 2024

Iga Swiatek has produced a ruthless performance to crush 12th seed Jasmine Paolini, and win a third straight French Open crown and fifth Grand Slam title of her career.

Iga Swiatek - Figure 1
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Swiatek's 6-2 6-1 win - her 21st in a row at her happiest hunting ground - put her fourth on the list of longest streaks at Roland Garros in the Open era, behind Chris Evert (29), Monica Seles (25) and Justine Henin (24).

She also became the third woman to capture three consecutive French Open crowns, after Henin (2005-07) and Seles (1990-92).

Iga Swiatek. Photo credit: Getty Images

The Pole extended her run of victories on clay to a career-best 19 matches to clinch her fourth French Open title in five years. 

"It means a lot," she said. "This tournament has been pretty surreal, with its beginning and the second round, and then I was able to get my game better every match.

"I'm really proud of myself, because the expectations have been pretty high from the outside. Pressure, as well.

"I'm happy that I just went for it, and I was ready to deal with all of this and I could win."

Now 5-0 in major finals after claiming the 2022 US Open, Swiatek is the first woman to lift the same Grand Slam title for three successive years, since American Serena Williams from 2012-14 at Flushing Meadows, but she says the demands of being a perfectionist weighed on her this year. 

"It's when the pressure from the outside hits me, then it's a little bit worse, but I managed it well at this tournament," she said. "It was an emotional win, because I felt a lot of stress yesterday and today in the morning.

"I felt really proud of myself."

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 Swiatek came out all guns blazing, but after narrowly missing the opportunity to break from 0-40 down in the second game, the top-seed Pole made heavy weather of the next to surrender her serve, before bouncing right back.

The diminutive Paolini - the third Italian woman, after Francesca Schiavone and Sara Errani, to reach the Roland Garros final since the sport turned professional in 1968 - went toe to toe with Swiatek, before cracking in the sixth game. 

With the momentum shifting, Swiatek began to dominate the exchanges from the baseline, superbly working the angles and sealing the opening set in 37 minutes, after winning 20 out of 24 points since going down a break.

A shellshocked Paolini smiled and won odd points early in the next set, but her challenge faded in the afternoon sun, as Swiatek broke twice to build a 4-0 lead.

Iga Swiatek celebrates victory at the French Open. Photo credit: Getty Images

Swiatek, who dropped only one set throughout the tournament in a second-round clash with Naomi Osaka, won 10 straight games, before Paolini finally got on the board, but there was to be no late comeback.

Swiatek closed out the win in 68 minutes, when Paolini hit a shot long, dropping to her knees and pumping her fists, while letting out a huge roar, before joining her entourage in the stands to celebrate. 

"To play you here is the toughest challenge in this sport," said Paolini, who will compete in the doubles final with Errani.

Paolini will rise to NO.7 in the world and has expanded on the difficulties of playing Swiatek.

"She's taking the balls early... she can defend really well," she said. "She won four titles and she's still 23.

"These numbers aren't normal. They're unbelievable."


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