Swiatek Ready to Face Paolini in Roland-Garros Women’s Final on TSN

Iga Swiatek vs Jasmine Paolini French Open Final

PARIS (AP) — The French Open final presents a striking contrast: Iga Swiatek, who turned 23 last week, already boasts four Grand Slam titles, including three in Paris. Jasmine Paolini, 28, had never advanced beyond the second round at any major until this season.

As of Saturday, Swiatek rides a 20-match winning streak at Roland Garros, aiming for her third consecutive title on the red clay. The Polish star’s career record at the venue is 34-2. Paolini, before this run, had a 3-5 record at the French Open, but has strung together six wins over the past two weeks.

Swiatek has dominated the WTA rankings since April 2022 and secured her spot at No. 1 even if she had exited in the first round in Paris. Paolini, currently ranked No. 15, is set to break into the top 10 for the first time on Monday, regardless of Saturday’s outcome.

“Iga is an unbelievable player… So young, but with so many achievements and Grand Slams,” Paolini said. “She excels week after week, which is not easy. I have huge respect for her, but my goal is to enjoy the match and the moment on Saturday.”

Swiatek’s prowess is well-known. With 21 career titles, including four this year alone, her 2024 record stands at 44-4. After defeating U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff in the semifinals, Swiatek’s career record is 325-70, with a remarkable .823 winning percentage, though it is eclipsed by her .944 success rate at the French Open.

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When asked about her confidence on clay, Swiatek simply responded with a shrug, “High.” She elaborated, “The surface enhances my game. My grip allows more spin. I can play more defense points because it’s slower, but it also gives me more time to attack.”

Paolini, also competing in the doubles final this weekend, is a late bloomer. She entered 2024 with a pro record of 78-87 and one title. However, she is 22-10 this year with one trophy. After early exits in her first 16 Grand Slam appearances, she reached the fourth round at the Australian Open in January and now is on a surprising run in Paris.

Swiatek is heavily favored to win on Saturday, listed as a -1100 money-line favorite by BetMGM Sportsbook.

Paolini’s ability to retrieve almost every ball and win baseline exchanges has been key to her success at this French Open. She attributes her breakthrough to newfound self-confidence.

“I often heard, ‘You play well’ and ‘You could achieve more.’ But I never truly believed it, which has changed recently,” she said. “Winning more matches — or even losing hard-fought ones — has been more tangible than words of encouragement.”

Paolini and partner Sara Errani, the 2012 runner-up to Maria Sharapova in singles in Paris, reached the doubles final by defeating Marta Kostyuk and Elena-Gabriela Ruse 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 on Friday.

Errani motivates Paolini before singles matches by saying, “Believe in yourself!”

Italian-born Paolini, who spent part of her childhood in Poland, is proud of her diverse heritage. She speaks Italian, English, and Polish, and occasionally chats with Swiatek in Polish.

“Yes,” Paolini said with a laugh, “but I hope she doesn’t ask me too many questions.”

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