Will Iga Swiatek feast on Jasmine Paolini?

The Polish WTA No.1 starts as a super favourite: will there be any pitfalls for her?

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Will Iga Swiatek feast on Jasmine Paolini?
© Dan Istitene / Staff Getty Images Sport

Tomorrow Iga Swiatek will look for her 4th title at the Roland Garros and the 5th in a Major. The WTA No.1, ruler of the 2024 clay-swing, will face the Italian outsider Jasmine Paolini. Let's be clear: Jasmine has already performed a miracle in reaching this final (deservedly), earning it point by point, ball by ball. But theoretically (except for unfavorable astral conjunctions), there should be no match. There is too much difference between the two: power, athleticism, experience, talent.

Swiatek could feast on the Italian tennis player. Paolini, also in the final in the women's doubles, will have to try to insinuate herself into her opponent's mind in order to undermine her certainties. Footwork and mental resistance; these are the weapons with which she will have to try to put the unstoppable Pole in difficulty. It seems like a mission impossible, especially given Swiatek's psycho-physical state, which borders on perfection.

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek © Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene
 

Numbers in hand, considering the 23 years he turned last May 31st, many insiders are making risky comparisons between Iga Swiatek's Roland Garros career and that of Rafael Nadal at the Parisian Major.

"We'll see in 14 years if my career will be similar to his. Entering into this discussion is already a very positive thing from my point of view. I don't expect anyone to compare me to Rafa, because he is an absolute legend. We'll see in a few years, but I'm very proud of myself. I usually realize what I've achieved at the end of the tournament. Sometimes it's hard not to think about what's at stake because of the atmosphere in these games, so I'm not used to it. It's not routine. On the other hand, I'm very focused on work and my tennis, I turn these two factors into a routine because for me it's the simplest thing," explained Swiatek at the press conference after getting the final.

Returning to tomorrow's final, Swiatek and Paolini have challenged each other twice: in their careers. The Pole won without worries both on clay in Prague in 2018 and at the US Open in 2022.

"We played each other a long time ago, so I have to prepare tactically and study her current game. She is having her best season, so something will have changed. I haven't seen her matches, so I can't say much more.
I will try to focus on myself and prepare tactically to try to be consistent,"
she told.

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek © Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene
 

After the victories against Elena Rybakina and Mirra Andreeva (respectively in the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Parisian Fortnight), Paolini now faces the toughest challenge against the queen of clay and Roland Garros.

"I'm happy, I'm really happy, it's a wonderful feeling to be in the final of a Slam. I don't know, it seems impossible to me but it's true. Obviously I watched all the finals that were played, especially those in which Italian tennis players participated.
At the beginning I just thought about having fun, I didn't dream too much, I just played. Then I started training as a professional, I dreamed of having fun in this profession, but I never dreamed of becoming a Slam champion or being number 1, I never dreamed so big. Maybe I didn't even dream of getting into the top 10, but I hoped for it, even if I didn't really believe it. I don't think I ever dreamed of reaching the final of a Slam, but here I am. I entered the court thinking about hitting the ball, moving quickly, being present and playing point-to-point.

Jasmine Paolini
Jasmine Paolini © Getty Images Sport - Tim Goode
 

When I broke in the first set I started to feel better and better. I believe that my level can still rise, as I have already said in recent days, now I enter the field convinced that I can win every match. I try to speak Polish, but it's not easy. I'm a little shy because I'm not very comfortable with the language, but when I see Swiatek and she won a title I always congratulate her in Polish. She also congratulated me after Dubai. We have a good relationship. Iga is an incredible player, all the results she has achieved despite being so young are extraordinary, especially in the Grand Slam. Here she has already won three times: my goal in the final is to try to enjoy the moment, play a good match and leave a good performance on the court," said Jasmine.

Iga Swiatek Jasmine Paolini
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