Paris | Swiatek bags her 4th French Open title

World No 1 Iga Swiatek became only the fourth woman to win 4 French Open singles titles in the Open era, joining Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Justine Henin after dispatching Jasmine Paolini in straight sets at Roland Garros on Saturday.

I honestly learned that I can make it because, at the beginning, when eight weeks ago I went to Fed Cup and then I didn't come back home for all these weeks. I was like 'Oh my god, this!', I mean, when I look at my calendar on my phone it looks crazy. How am I going to survive that? But, here I am, and honestly, I think I learned that if I enjoy life off the court, I really enjoyed being in Madrid, Rome, and here. It helped me also to be fresh on-court. Iga Swiatek

She is also the first player to claim 3 successive women’s titles in Paris since Henin in 2007, while Monica Seles was the first to do so, triumphing from 1990-92.

“I’m really proud of myself, because the expectations, obviously, have been pretty high from the outside,” Swiatek said. “Pressure, as well. I’m a perfectionist, so there is always pressure behind me. But I think I’m fine with handling my own pressure.

“It’s when the pressure from the outside hits me, then it’s a little bit worse. But I managed it really well at this tournament.”

The clear favourite for the title from the outset, Swiatek nearly didn’t make it, facing a match point against Naomi Osaka in the 2nd-round, and later weeping in the gym as her emotions spilled over.

“I honestly thought that I’m going to be out of the tournament,” Swiatek said after her 3rd-round win. “Even though I felt something on court, it kind of hit me after. I was happy that I won, but I still felt, like, I was really on the edge. So, yeah, I just cried.”

From then on, nobody could touch her, and Swiatek conceded a mere 11 games from the 4th-round onwards, finding a steely focus that took her all the way to the title, again.

Lifting the Suzanne Lenglen trophy for a 4th time, the undisputed World No 1 completed a Madrid-Rome-Roland Garros treble, the only other woman in history to do it in the same season being Serena Williams.

“This tournament has been pretty surreal with its beginning, and with second round, and then I was able to get my game better and better, every match,” said Swiatek. “For sure, it gives me the feeling that I should always believe in myself, that I can find my tennis, even if I’m in big trouble, you know, and with this tennis, fight back. It gives me confidence.”

The 23-year old Pole has now won the same number of French Open titles that Rafael Nadal, the record 14-time men’s champion, had at the same age.


Iga Swiatek dominated the final against Jasmine Paolini, winning in 68 minutes in Paris

© Bertrand Guay/AFP via Getty Images

With the exception of her 2022 US Open victory, Swiatek’s success in Paris far exceeds her results at the other Grand Slams, but, as a former Wimbledon junior champion and a winner of 6 WTA 1000 hard-court events, it is surely only a matter of time before the Pole finds a way to successfully transition from her favourite clay to grass.

Swiatek has yet to make it past the quarter-finals of the main draw at Wimbledon, and is not setting any specific goals.

“I don’t expect a lot,” she said. “The balls are different. Overall tennis is different on grass. I’ll just see and I’ll work hard to play better there.”

The transition time is short for those who make it to the end of Paris, with the grass court season kicking off the following week and Wimbledon starting on 1 July.

“When I look at my calendar, it looks crazy,” Swiatek said on surviving 8 hectic weeks on the trot, starting with the Billie Jean King Cup and culminating in her Paris triumph.

“I honestly learned that I can make it because, at the beginning, when eight weeks ago I went to Fed Cup and then I didn’t come back home for all these weeks. I was like ‘Oh my god, this!’ Swiatek said during her post-match press conference. “How am I going to survive that?

“But, here I am, and honestly, I think I learned that if I enjoy life off the court I really enjoyed being in Madrid, Rome, and here. It helped me also to be fresh on-court,” she added. “So, there, I think, I had like less drama compared to last year, and I could really just enjoy life. So, then I felt you know more energy on the court.”


Jasmine Paolini broke Iga Swiatek early and tried everything in her arsenal but could not impact the World No 1's run to the title

© Tim Goode/Getty Images

Up against 12th seed Paolini in the final on Saturday, Swiatek was at her magnificent best, once she got over her opening jitters, and winning through 6-2 6-1 in 68 minutes.

Paolini started this season ranked 29, making her first Grand Slam Round of 16 at the 2024 Australian Open, and winning the WTA 1000 title at Dubai in February to rise to No 14.

“Throughout this year I have been more consistent, and that, I think, helped me to take also chances when the chances are coming,” Paolini said. “I think that’s the difference, but we still try to improve. Because I think it’s the most important thing to step on court every day, and try to improve, and to keep this consistency. Because if you stop, I think, the consistency will stop with you.”

From a break deficit in the first set, Swiatek dominated the final after failing to convert a break point in Paolini’s opening service game.

It was the only time in the match that she lost her serve, striking 3 uncharacteristic first-ball unforced errors, but she quickly regrouped, and 2 powerful groundstroke winners book-ended a break back to love in what was the start of a 10-game run that helped her race to a 4th career Roland Garros crown.

If Paolini was overwhelmed by the occasion, it didn’t show, and she didn’t play badly. She was just up against an opponent, who played with lethal controlled aggression and refused to miss.

The diminutive Italian settled quickly, and it was actually Swiatek who looked a little nervous as Paolini broke to lead 2-1.

Swiatek did what she does better than anyone in the sport, dusted herself down and got to work, winning 5 games in a row, dropping just 4 points in the process, and winning the set 6-2.

It was an emphatic response, given the promising way Paolini had started, who must have gone into this match thinking she had a puncher’s chance.

She played a lights-out match and was able to dominate the early rallies with her forehand against the overwhelming favourite, giving the crowd cause to think this would prove a enthralling encounter.

Paolini’s level didn’t really drop in the rest of the set, but she suddenly found herself breaking down in the face of Swiatek’s resolve, while her remarkable early unforced error count also fell off.

The run of games against her completely broke Paolini, who managed to avoid a second set bagel by ordering up a 6-1 breadstick after a total of 10 successive games went Swiatek’s way.

The last time Swiatek faced a loss was on 20 April 20, in the final of the Stuttgart Open, and since then, she has been on a run of 19 consecutive wins, and 3 titles.


4-time champion Iga Swiatek and finalist Jasmine Paolini pose with their trophies alongside Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Gilles Moretton, President of the French Federation of Tennis during the trophy presentation

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Paolini has made huge progress this year and should be hugely proud of her run here, which is catapulting her to World No 7 next week, as the 28-year old becomes the 5th Italian to rank inside the world’s Top 10 in the Open Era after Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.

“Now it’s a strange feeling,” Paolini said. “I just lost the final, but I think I have to be happy of those two weeks, and my new ranking.

“It’s a happy moment for me. It’s not a sad moment. I have to admit to try to see the things like that.”

This occasion was just a step too far for her, against the best player in the world right now, by some distance.

“I think, to play you here is the toughest challenge in this sport,” Paolini said during the trophy ceremony. “The best days of my life, I think… Still going, because tomorrow I have the doubles final!

“Today was tough, but I’m really proud of myself anyway.”

Afterwards in her press conference, Paolini added: “I was trying to put intensity into the game. But also, it stressed me a little bit. So sometimes I was going down the line instead of cross to try to move her, because if not she was moving me.

“Maybe I was going a little bit down with intensity, and she was at the same level, I think, all match.

“That, I think, is the big difference. There are a lot of other differences, but that is the main one: she keeps the intensity all the game, all the balls, and all the points. It’s not easy to stay there.”

Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova presented Swiatek with the Suzanne Lenglen Cup, the former holding the record at Roland Garros as a 7-time champion.

On-court, Swiatek said: “Without my team, my family, I wouldn’t be here — it’s not so easy to play so many weeks at the highest level. I love this place, I wait every year to come back here… Merci beaucoup, je t’aime.

“I was almost out of the tournament in the second round, thank you for staying behind my back, and cheering for me. I really needed to believe that this one is possible. It’s been a very emotional tournament for me.”

Afterwards in her press conference, she talked about the match.

“I got broken at the beginning, so it wasn’t maybe perfect, but I think the level was pretty high,” she said. “It wasn’t so easy as the score says. I think I played pretty well considering all these facts, and the pressure.”


Jasmine Paolini rises to No 7 in the world, while Iga Swiatek remains the undisputed No 1 in the rankings

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The numbers are beyond mind-bending. Consider that Swiatek has now won:

  • 21 consecutive times at Roland Garros, matching Henin (2005-07) and Seles (1990-92).
  • Swiatek joined Henin as the only Open Era player to win each of her first 4 finals at the French Open.
  • 35 of 37 career matches in Paris (.946). Only Margaret Court (20-1, .952) was better.
  • 19 straight matches on clay this year. In a span of 45 days, titles in Madrid, Rome and Paris, something only Serena Williams (2013) had accomplished.
  • Paolini won 13 points in those first 3 games, and only 18 in the final 12.

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