French Open final updates Iga Swiatek faces Jasmine Paolini

PARIS — Iga Swiatek will look to make it three French Open titles on the bounce when she faces Jasmine Paolini in the women’s singles final at Roland Garros on Saturday.

Swiatek is the dominant force on clay – having won three of the past five titles at Roland Garros. She’s closing in on Chris Evert’s record of seven French Open singles titles here, and the scary thing? Swiatek is just 23. A triumph today, and she’ll be the first to win three in a row since Justine Henin’s trio of titles from 2005 to 2007.

But Paolini, 28, will be quietly confident. She’s the underdog here but has ripped up the form book on her journey to the final, including that tricky semifinal tie against 17-year-old prodigy Mirra Andreeva.

Swiatek knows Roland Garros well, and is threatening her own Rafael Nadal-style dominance of the Suzanne-Lenglen trophy. She won here in 2020, 2022 and 2023 and is favourite to take yet another crown this year. But she was nearly knocked out in the second round, when she had to save match point against Naomi Osaka. That threw her, but that near-miss proved to be the catalyst for a remarkable run of form, including a 40-minute win over Anastasia Potapova in the fourth round – the quickest of her tour-level career. The semifinal saw her face US Open champion Coco Gauff, but Swiatek came through that too in straight sets.

But as far Nadal comparisons? She’s not yet ready to buy into that. “We’ll see in 14 years if the journey is similar. I would never expect anybody to compare me to Rafa because for me he’s above everybody, and he’s a total legend,” Swiatek said. “I’m proud of myself that I’m playing consistently here and that I’m mentioned in the same sentence as Rafa. That’s cool.”

Paolini would have been tipped by few coming into the tournament, but she’s at the forefront of this incredible Italian renaissance in tennis. Jannik Sinner, on the men’s side, will be crowned world No.1 on Monday, and reached the semifinal of the men’s draw here. Paolini has Swiatek in her way on the women’s singles side and is in the final alongside Sara Errani in the women’s doubles on Sunday. Italy also have Andrea Vavassori and Simone Bolelli in the men’s doubles later on Saturday.

For Paolini, she needed three sets to get past Bianca Andreescu and Elina Avanesyan in the third and fourth rounds, before upsetting 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the quarterfinals. The semifinal was tipped to be one decided by the flip of a coin, but she came through in straight sets against Andreeva. Now comes her biggest test.

“[Swiatek’s] doing well week by week, and that’s not easy,” Paolini said. “So I have huge respect for her, but I would like, my goal is to step on court Saturday and try to enjoy the match and to enjoy that moment and to try to play a good match and to make a good performance on court, you know, yeah.”

It’s a beautiful day at Roland Garros, so expect plenty of topspin, the ball to bounce high, and lightning-quick rallies. Swiatek is the favourite, but Paolini will head into this with plenty of belief she can secure one of the biggest upsets in recent times.

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