RG sensation Jasmine Paolini makes deeply honest Novak Djokovic admission

Paolini makes an honest admission amid her career-best results.

by Dzevad Mesic
RG sensation Jasmine Paolini makes deeply honest Novak Djokovic admission
© Getty Images Sport - Tim Goode

French Open sensation Jasmine Paolini admits she didn't dream big as a little girl and she was "surprised" when listening to Novak Djokovic's first interview and the Serb saying as a seven-year-old boy that his goal was to become "a champion" in tennis one day. 

World No. 15 Paolini, who turned 28 in January, is enjoying the best tennis days of her career as she is set for her first Grand Slam final after beating Mirra Andreeva 6-3 6-1 in the French Open semifinal. By reaching the French Open final, Paolini - who achieved a career-high ranking of No. 12 on May 6th - also earned a top-10 spot for the first time in her career as she is guaranteed to be ranked at least No. 7 on Monday. 

Earlier this year, Paolini also won her first WTA 1000 title in Dubai. And if Paolini upsets Iga Swiatek in the French Open final, she will become a Grand Slam champion - a WTA 1000 winner - and also a top-10 player in just four months. 

Jasmine Paolini
Jasmine Paolini © Getty Images Sport - Francois Nel

Before all of this happened for Paolini, she broke into the top-100 only in late 2019 and reached the top-50 for the first time in early 2022. Also, Paolini won her first WTA title in 2021. 

Paolini: When I started with tennis, I didn't dream too much...

“When I started to play tennis, I was just enjoying. Yeah, I was not dreaming too much. I was just enjoying playing tennis," Paolini admitted.

"Then I started to train like a professional tennis player. I was dreaming to become a professional, and I never dreamed to be, you know, No. 1, Grand Slam champion. Never dreamed so big. Never. Never maybe dream to be in the top 10, but I was hoping, but not really believe it, you know, believe in this.

"I think step by step I started to believe, but to dream, but for closer things. You know, not too far. That I think it's not so positive because, you know, I think it's important to dream, but I started to dream I think step by step. Not, you know, too far away."

In an interview given when he was just seven-year-old, Djokovic spoke about his tennis ambitions and how he was determined to become the world No. 1 and a great champion one day. Also in some of his interviews given as a pro tennis player, Djokovic shared how as a kid he sat in front of his TV and imagined himself lifting a Wimbledon trophy one day.

Now, Djokovic is a record 24-time Grand Slam champion and the only player in tennis history with over 400 weeks spent at the world No. 1 spot.

"For me it's surprising to see interviews from Nole when he was a kid saying that he wanted to be World No. 1 and Wimbledon. I watch this, and I said, it's unbelievable that you can dream as a child. I didn't dream it, you know, when I was a child," Paolini added.

"It's unbelievable to see Jannik when he was 15 years old say that his dream was to be No. 1, and for me it's something different. I never dreamed to be I think in a Grand Slam final, and I'm here. I'm so happy, but it's something different. I'm a different kind of person I think.”

Paolini on facing Swiatek in the French Open final

On Saturday, Paolini and 23-year-old Swiatek will meet for the third time when they clash against each other in the French Open final. 

When Swiatek was just at the start of her career, she defeated Paolini 6-2 6-1 at an ITF tournament in 2018. And two years ago, Swiatek also ousted Paolini 6-3 6-0 en route to winning the 2022 US Open title. 

Going into the French Open final, Swiatek is the big favorite considering her French Open history and the fact that she already has four Grand Slam finals on her resume. And Paolini acknowledges Swiatek's massive success but underlines that she won't wave the white flag when she comes out to the court to play against the top-seeded Pole.

Jasmine Paolini
Jasmine Paolini © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

"Iga is an unbelievable player, as I said. So young, but so many achievements and Grand Slams. Here she won three times.
She's doing well week by week, and that's not easy," Paolini said of Swiatek.

"So l have huge respect for her, but 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 remains to be seen if Paolini can upset Swiatek and become a Grand Slam champion.

Jasmine Paolini Novak Djokovic