“I never played a player that has this intensity” – Paolini on facing Swiatek in Roland-Garros final

The Italian was comprehensively beaten 6-2, 6-1 by Iga Swiatek in the final of Roland-Garros as the Pole clinched her fourth title on the Parisian clay

Paolini and Swiatek following Roland-Garros 2024 final Paolini and Swiatek following Roland-Garros 2024 final © Action Plus / Panoramic
Roland Garros •Final • completed
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Jasmine Paolini‘s maiden Grand Slam final was a baptism of fire, to say the least.

Not only had the Italian not been past the second round of a major prior to 2024, she was also facing most probably the toughest challenge in women’s tennis currently by taking on two-time defending champion Iga Swiatek in Saturday’s Roland-Garros semi-final.

Paolini has had a stunning breakthrough season. At the age of 28, it appears she has finally cracked the code to her game and hit an excellent run of form as a result.

Before January, the Tuscany native had never won consecutive matches at a Grand Slam tournament, until she made the fourth round of the Australian Open at the turn of this year with an eye-catching run in Melbourne.

Paolini then followed that up with a surprise title run in Dubai, winning her first 1000-level tournament for just her second title on the WTA.

Now, this wonderful run in Paris. Yet, her first experience of a Grand Slam final was a chastening one.

Swiatek swept her aside in 68 minutes for the loss of just three games. Not that this was of any real surprise – other than a superb second-round epic against Naomi Osaka, Swiatek has crushed every opponent she has faced at this year’s Roland-Garros.

It does little to diminish Paolini’s run to the showpiece match, as Swiatek would have run out as a comfortable winner against most players on tour.

Still, it must have been a harsh grounding in reality for the Italian and a demonstration of just how far ahead of the pack Swiatek is – especially on the clay courts of Paris.

“Iga, she’s a very huge opponent,” was how Paolini put it in her post-match press conference.

“I tried my best today. Maybe I could do some, I don’t know, more games to try to be more in the match. Maybe I needed her to make more mistakes; maybe not. Because she was playing unbelievable level I think all the match. No mistakes, hitting winners.

“I tried to play my best, but it’s not easy I think also to play at that intensity. I never played a player that has this intensity before in my life.

“So it was my first time facing a player that, yeah, is taking time as much as she does, but also hitting winners and be close on the court, you know.

“So for me, right now, yeah, I think it was the most challenging match I played in my entire career.”

Despite today being a bruising encounter for Paolini, she will still reap the rewards of her run to the final. Come Monday, when the official new rankings are published, the Italian will be sitting a career-best of No 7 in the world.

She had never been inside the world’s top 10 before.

“Of course I’m really happy,” Paolini said when asked about the new No 7 ranking.

“Now it’s a strange feeling. I just lost the final, but I think I have to be happy of those two weeks, you know, and my new ranking. It’s a happy moment for me. It’s not a sad moment.

“Yeah, I have to admit to trying to see things like that.”

A bittersweet moment in the French capital for Paolini, no doubt, as she takes time to absorb the positive and negative emotions of the past few hours and the last fortnight.

But, once the dust settles, this will surely be viewed by the Italian as the extraordinary achievement that it is.

In the meantime, she still has the small matter of the women’s doubles final to content tomorrow. Paolini could yet walk away from Roland-Garros 2024 as a Grand Slam champion.

Whatever happens in that one, she has proved herself a winner in more ways than one across her wonderful run over these last two weeks.

It will be fascinating to see what she can achieve across the rest of this season and beyond.

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