Swiatek leaves no doubt

Iga Swiatek picked up her third straight French Open title and fourth in five years with a straight-sets romp over Italy's Jasmine Paolini Saturday.

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June 10, 2024 - 1:45 PM

Iga Swiatek of Poland celebrates with her winners trophy after victory against Italy's Jasmine Paolini during the Women's Singles Final of the French Open at Roland Garros on Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Paris. Photo by Tim Goode/Getty Images/TNS

PARIS (AP) — For a few minutes, anyway, it seemed as if Iga Swiatek was a bit off in the French Open final against Jasmine Paolini. Swiatek kept making mistakes early Saturday, got broken in the third game and trailed at Court Philippe Chatrier.

Might a true surprise be in the offing? Could Paolini not only make a match of this, but actually win it? Um, no. Not even close. Not with the way Swiatek can dominate opponents, especially on red clay.

The top-seeded Swiatek quickly recalibrated her wayward strokes and simply overwhelmed Paolini, grabbing 10 games in a row en route to a 6-2, 6-1 victory that gave her a third consecutive championship at Roland Garros and fourth in five years.

The 23-year-old from Poland had to save a match point in a second-round victory against Naomi Osaka last week, but in the five matches after that three-set escape, Swiatek dropped a total of only 17 games.

“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. I’m really proud of myself, because the expectations obviously have been pretty high from the outside. Pressure, as well,” said Swiatek, who is 35-2 overall at the French Open, including a current streak of 21 straight victories. “I’m happy that I just went for it and I was ready to deal with all of this — and I could win.”

She is the first woman with three trophies in a row in Paris since Justine Henin from 2005 to 2007.

The 12th-seeded Paolini, a 28-year-old from Italy appearing in her first Slam final, called facing Swiatek at Roland Garros “the toughest challenge in this sport.”

Swiatek also won the French Open in 2020 and the U.S. Open in 2022 and is now 5-0 in major finals.

She added this triumph to those on clay at Madrid and Rome last month, becoming the first woman to win all three events since Serena Williams did it in 2013.

“I never played a player that has this intensity before in my life,” Paolini said. “For me, right now, I think it was the most challenging match I played in my entire career.”

During Saturday’s postmatch ceremony, Swiatek was flanked by a pair of women who each won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Evert said before this French Open that she thinks Swiatek could eventually surpass her women’s record of seven championships in Paris.

Paolini, who will rise to a career-best No. 7 in the rankings Monday, had never been past the second round at one of the four most important tennis tournaments until getting to the fourth round at the Australian Open in January. She will play in the French Open women’s doubles final on Sunday with partner Sara Errani against 2023 U.S. Open singles champion Coco Gauff and Katerina Siniakova.

Before the final began, a loud chant of “Let’s go, Jasmine! Let’s go!” arose from Paolini’s supporters in the stands, each wearing a T-shirt in one of the colors of the Italian flag: green, white or red.

After Swiatek got the match’s first point, a fan yelled in French, “Jasmine, it’s not over!”

But Swiatek briefly went through a shaky stretch, failing to convert a break point in the second game, then getting broken to trail 2-1 after 13 minutes when she flubbed a forehand.

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