Iga Swiatek blows away Jasmine Paolini in echoes of Rafael Nadal

Iga Swiatek blows away Jasmine Paolini to win fourth French Open title
Iga Swiatek kisses the trophy after winning the women's final of the French Open - AP/Thibault Camus

In one of the most predictable results of the sporting year, Iga Swiatek routed 12th seed Jasmine Paolini to claim her fourth French Open in five years and thus maintain the parallels with her idol Rafael Nadal.

When umpire Nico Helwerth gave the players their usual briefing at the start of the match, and asked if they had any questions, one half-expected Paolini to reply: “Yes, how on earth do I stop this woman?”

At 5ft 4in, Paolini was overmatched physically and technically, though she did at least maintain an industrious attitude and could be seen grinning sardonically when she landed a rare ace amid the wreckage.

Paolini had two achievements in the match: extending the duration past an hour (by eight minutes) and inflicting the first break of serve. Her start was misleadingly vibrant, as she went after her groundstrokes with punch and accuracy.

On the other side of the net, Swiatek took a few minutes to settle and coughed up a series of errors to go 2-1 down. But this proved to be her only rough patch. She responded to the break of her own serve by winning eight of the next nine points with her rugged, heavily topspun groundstrokes.

That was the beginning of a 10-game unbroken sequence that took Swiatek to the brink of her 6-2, 6-1 victory, and only ended when Paolini held serve in the penultimate game. While some might be tempted to query the challenger’s performance level, it was hard to see anyone touching the world No 1 on this form.

As Paolini tried to maintain the early pressure, she fought out a 35-second rally in which the ball pinged back and forward 25 times. Paolini’s shots were fast, deep and accurate, but Swiatek was never pushed off balance, and finished the point with an irresistible backhand winner. Walking back to prepare for the next point, she was not even breathing hard.

From that moment onwards, the final lacked a sense of jeopardy, which can be a problem on clay. Where grass allows an underdog to hit and hope, this more methodical surface requires rigorous point construction. As Paolini discovered, you simply cannot bluff your way to victory.

Swiatek’s fourth Roland Garros title – and third in a row – has arrived shortly after her 23rd birthday, leaving her only one short of Nadal’s tally at the same stage. Her campaign at this year’s tournament was largely dominant, with one notable exception when she faced match point against former world No 1 Naomi Osaka in the second round.

The rest of the locker room must have sighed when Osaka choked with the finish line in sight. Everyone immediately suspected that Swiatek would not find herself in such a tight corner again, and indeed her remaining five rounds occupied only six hours in total. Of the 34 games she dropped in the tournament, exactly half were against Osaka.

Saturday’s match was the most one-sided of Swiatek’s French Open finals. Nadal also handed out some real beastings here, notably in the 2008 final when he conceded only four games to a disconsolate Roger Federer. But men’s tennis usually looks a little more competitive on the scoreboard, if only because the serve is a more significant advantage.

At the presentation ceremony, 1970s rivals Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova applauded the players. Evert holds the record for most Roland Garros titles, with seven. But if Swiatek stays fit she will probably overhaul that figure by the end of the decade, if not before.

Last week, the former French Open mixed-doubles champion Mary Carillo revealed that Evert had described Swiatek as “unmatched” on clay in a text conversation, adding that “my results were [the best], but not my game. Different era”.

“To play you here is the toughest challenge in this sport,” said Paolini to Swiatek at the ceremony, reusing a sentence which used to be directed towards Nadal.

Iga Swiatek blows away Jasmine Paolini to win fourth French Open title
Iga Swiatek celebrates winning match point against Jasmine Paolini - Getty Images/Dan Istitene

Then it was Swiatek’s turn. She had held up four fingers towards her player’s box after clinching match point with an 117mph unreturned serve, but her speech was somewhat awkward. She kept having to stop because the PA system was running a little slow, so that she could hear her own words coming back at her. It was the only time she looked discombobulated all day.

The numerous similarities between Swiatek and Nadal include the way in which she works the percentages, constantly placing her opponents in such uncomfortable positions that all their options are bad. Then, if the result is a shorter or weaker ball, she opens her shoulders and drives it away for a winner.

One might also cite the fact that they both have birthdays during the French Open and that they are two fidgety characters with a matching need for everything to be in exactly the right place. As soon as the fourth miniature Coupe Suzanne Lenglen arrives in Swiatek’s trophy cabinet, she will have them all standing perfectly in line.

Iga Swiatek captures her fifth grand slam title, as it happened

04:17 PM BST

Thanks for joining us

It’s been another drama filled women’s draw. Shock results, big performances and entertainment but it ends with what many predicted, Iga Swiatek with the trophy in her hands. Huge credit to Jasmine Paolini as well for the best grand slam result of her career.

Join us again tomorrow for the men’s final between Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev. Everything you need to know about that match is right here.

Iga Swiatek blows away Jasmine Paolini to win fourth French Open title
Iga Swiatek and Jasmine Paolini celebrate with the trophies, next to French Tennis Federation's President Gilles Moretton, Martina Navratilova (right) and Chris Evert (left) - Getty Images/Emmanuel Dunand

04:09 PM BST

Images like this didn’t look likely...

...when Swiatek was losing to Osaka in the second round. Incredibly, Swiatek dropped 17 games in that match and 17 against her other opponents combined.

Iga Swiatek blows away Jasmine Paolini to win fourth French Open title
Iga Swiatek poses for a picture with the trophy and ball kids - Reuters/Lisi Niesner

04:03 PM BST

Swiatek reacts

I love this place, I wait every year to come back here.

I was almost out in the second round so thank you for still cheering for me. It’s been an emotional tournament.

Iga Swiatek blows away Jasmine Paolini to win fourth French Open title
Iga Swiatek celebrates with the trophy - Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

03:58 PM BST

French Open women’s champions since 2010

2024 Iga Swiatek (Poland) beat Jasmine Paolini (Italy) 6-2 6-1
2023 Swiatek beat Karolina Muchova (Czech Republic) 6-2 5-7 6-4
2022 Swiatek beat Coco Gauff (United Stat:es) 6-1 6-3
2021 Barbora Krejcikova (Czech Republic) beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) 6-1 2-6 6-4
2020 Swiatek beat Sofia Kenin (U.S.) 6-4 6-1
2019 Ashleigh Barty (Australia) beat Marketa Vondrousova (Czech Republic) 6-1 6-3
2018 Simona Halep (Romania) beat Sloane Stephens (U.S.) 3-6 6-4 6-1
2017 Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia) beat Halep 4-6 6-4 6-3
2016 Garbine Muguruza (Spain) beat Serena Williams (U.S.) 7-5 6-4
2015 Serena Williams beat Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) 6-3 6-7 6-2
2014 Maria Sharapova (Russia) beat Halep 6-4 6-7 6-4
2013 Serena Williams beat Sharapova 6-4 6-4
2012 Sharapova beat Sara Errani (Italy) 6-3 6-2
2011 Li Na (China) beat Francesca Schiavone (Italy) 6-4 7-6
2010 Schiavone beat Samantha Stosur (Australia) 6-4 7-6(2)

03:48 PM BST

Paolini reacts

I have to say congratulations to you Iga. Playing you here is the toughest challenge in the sport. You are doing a great job - world number and many slams. I want to thank my team, my family, everyone who is cheering for me everyday. Congratulations to everyone who made this tournament special.

The best days of my life I think. Tomorrow I have the doubles final. It’s been a very intense 15 days and I’m really happy to be here.

Today was tough but I’m really proud of myself anyway. You were cheering for me and that is unbelievable.

03:42 PM BST

Emotions from Swiatek

Swiatek collects her trophy from Navratilova and Evert. As she stands with the trophy and hears the Polish national anthem, the champ wipes away a tear.

03:39 PM BST

A fine two weeks of tennis by Paolini

03:35 PM BST

The Queen of Clay and the best player in the world

03:32 PM BST

Trophy presentation time

The podium is being set up. Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, two legends of course, will be part of the ceremony.

03:26 PM BST

WATCH: The winning moment for Swiatek

03:22 PM BST

Swiatek 6-2, 6-1 Paolini*

Serving for the title, Swiatek starts the game with an unreturned serve. Swiatek backhand into the tramlines, 15-15.

Paolini desperately trying to cling on but Swiatek eventually puts away an overhead smash, 30-15. Good play by Paolini as she controls the point and forces the error, 30-30. Good proactive tennis.

Paolini just long with a forehand. Championship point after 68 minutes.

GAME SET CHAMPIONSHIP SWIATEK!!! Swiatek falls to her knees as Paolini’s backhand return goes long.

Too good by the world No 1.

03:16 PM BST

Swiatek* 6-2, 5-1 Paolini

Come on Paolini. Don’t lose 11 games in a row. That’s not the way to end her singles tournament!

Paolini is coming alive, urging herself on as we pass the one hour mark. But a wild backhand from the Italian makes it 30-30.

Paolini backhand pass down the line, should be an easy volley by Swiatek but she gets it all wrong and the ball lands in the tramlines, 40-30.

Forehand down the line winner by Paolini to win the game! There’s still hope...

03:11 PM BST

Swiatek 6-2, 5-0 Paolini*

Best point by Paolini in a long time as she keeps the ball in court, attacks the net and finishes with a nice backhand volley.

Swiatek responds like a champion with a forehand winner, 40-30. And holds when Paolini’s backhand return goes long.

She is a game away from her fourth title.

03:06 PM BST

Swiatek* 6-2, 4-0 Paolini

Paolini has not given up. She is just being outplayed. Nobody can live with Swiatek when she plays like this.

Two more break points for Swiatek for the double break. The Italian saves the first when Swiatek nets a rare backhand.

Short second serve by Paolini and Swiatek crushes a cross court backhand winner. Swiatek breaks again.

Nine games in a row. Will we be taking a trip to Iga’s bakery?

03:02 PM BST

Swiatek 6-2, 3-0 Paolini*

Just no let up Swiatek here. She wants to end the clay season in devastating style. She slides into a backhand and guides the ball down the line for a winner and a love hold.

Wow. Eight games in a row now...

03:00 PM BST

‘The relentless Swiatek machine’

A grin there from Paolini as she hits her first ace of the final. Her attitude is infectious, even if her tennis is no longer matching up to the relentless Swiatek machine. Three unreturned serves and then … three unforced errors, just when she looked like sneaking a game.

02:59 PM BST

Swiatek* 6-2, 2-0 Paolini

Second double fault of the match for Paolini, 15-15. The crowd tries to rally behind her. Short second serve by Paolini is dispatched with ease by Swiatek, 15-30. Paolini is on the back foot and slices a defensive forehand into the net, two break points.

Paolini saves the first with a much needed ace. And the second when Swiatek puts a forehand return long, deuce.

Paolini forehand into the net and it’s another break point for Swiatek. Paolini puffs her cheeks. Wild forehand wide by Paolini and Swiatek gets the break.

Seven games in a row now...

02:53 PM BST

Second Set: Swiatek 6-2, 1-0 Paolini*

Easier said than done but maybe Paolini can do more to get Swiatek to come into the net. She won’t beat Swiatek from the baseline. She is trying to blast her way through Paolini’s defences but the errors are piling up.

Swiatek holds to 15 and that’s six games in a row. Paolini has got to do something here...

02:49 PM BST

‘Window is closing quickly for Paolini’

The window is closing quickly here for Paolini. Since Swiatek became a tour-level player, I can only find two matches she has lost on clay after being a set up. One against Rybakina, her nemesis, and the other against last year’s French Open finalist Muchova.

02:48 PM BST

Swiatek* 6-2 Paolini

Rampant tennis from Swiatek. She is all over the Paolini serve here and earns three set points. She drills a forehand return at the feet of Paolini and the Italian can’t react quick enough, hitting her forehand into the net.

10 winners from Swiatek compared to three by Paolini. The world No 1 is crushing the ball.

02:44 PM BST

Swiatek 5-2 Paolini*

The world No 1 is starting to stamp her authority on the match. Her backhand down the line is causing so many problems for Paolini. And she finishes the game and a hold to 15 with a rare foray into the net and a volley winner.

Paolini will now need to hold serve to stay in the set.

02:39 PM BST

Swiatek* 4-2 Paolini

Paolini just misses with a backhand down the line, 15-30. She is being forced out of her comfort zone by Swiatek. She does for a big cross court backhand and nets, break point Swiatek.

Double fault Paolini. That was pressure. Swiatek breaks.

02:37 PM BST

‘A withering response from Swiatek’

A withering response from Swiatek to being broken. She takes eight of the next nine points as Paolini drops off her very best level. Not by much, but it was enough.

Look out for Paolini’s tactic of hitting hard and deep down the middle on her first shot, to keep the angles closed.

02:34 PM BST

Swiatek 3-2 Paolini*

Longest rally of the match to start this game, 25 shots of brutal hitting and it ends as it so often does with a Swiatek backhand winner.

Swiatek has raised her level here and it will be interesting to see how long Paolini can live with it. Swiatek holds to 15.

02:31 PM BST

Swiatek* 2-2 Paolini

I always say it is not a break of serve unless you hold serve in the next game so the pressure is on Paolini here to consolidate her advantage.

Unsurprisingly, Swiatek is straight back on it and errors from Paolini mean she quickly slips to 0-40. And Swiatek does break back immediately when Paolini’s second serve sits up nicely and the world No 1 blasts a backhand return winner down the line.

02:28 PM BST

‘This wasn’t in the script’

This wasn’t in the script! The chat coming in was about how many games Paolini would collect against the bagel/breadstick machine. Well, the first set is already out of that bakery zone (6-0 or 6-1).

02:26 PM BST

Swiatek 1-2 Paolini*

Feels as though the crowd are firmly on Paolini’s side and they are pleased when Swiatek puts a backhand in the tramlines to fall 0-30 down.

Brave drop shot by Paolini drags Swiatek to the net and the Pole flicks a shot down the line and the ball bounces long, 15-40.

Wild Swiatek forehand long and Paolini gets the early break. 

02:23 PM BST

‘Paolini isn’t overawed’

An underappreciated part of Swiatek’s dominant form this whole season is her revamped service action. She tweaked it over the off-season, and came back with greater speed through the air.

In that opening game, Paolini was competing well off the ground but - at 5ft 4in - she lacks wingspan and was outflanked by two swinging serves out to her forehand.

Mind you, Paolini isn’t overawed. She’s not made an error yet that I’ve noticed.

02:22 PM BST

Swiatek* 1-1 Paolini

Paolini has come to play. No fear, not overawed by the occasion and bringing some serious heat on her shots. No holding back from both players in fact as Swiatek shows her class with back-to-back forehand winners, 40-30.

Paolini thinks she has won the game with a cross court backhand winner but the ball is called out. The crowd aren’t happy but it’s deuce now.

And Swiatek earns herself a break point with more blistering forehands. Paolini survives for now when Swiatek’s backhand clips the net cord and the ball bounces in the tramlines.

Fist pump from Paolini as Swiatek goes long.

02:16 PM BST

First Set: Iga Swiatek 1-0 Jasmine Paolini* (*denotes next server)

A sign of things to come? Swiatek straight onto the attack and making Paolini work hard on the baseline.

Paolini guesses right when Swiatek goes for a cross court backhand and places the ball down in the line into the open space, 30-15. Good anticipation.

Nothing tentative in Paolini’s shot making so far. Happy to go toe-to-toe with Swiatek and producing some good pop on her serve.

Ace from Swiatek to hold serve.

02:09 PM BST

Here we go!

Showtime on Court Philippe Chatrier as the two players walk out into perfect conditions.

The sun is shining and no wind. Swiatek wins the toss and opts to serve first. Nice smile for Paolini as she runs back to her end of the court. Huge moment for the Italian.

02:00 PM BST

Bold prediction by Evert

01:57 PM BST

Paolini’s road to the final

  • 1st round: bt Daria Saville 6-3, 6-4

  • 2nd round: bt Hailey Baptiste 6-4, 7-6

  • 3rd round: bt Bianca Andreescu 6-1, 3-6, 6-0

  • 4th round: bt Elina Avanesyan 4-6, 6-0, 6-1

  • Quarter-finals: bt Elena Rybakina 6-2, 4-6, 6-4

  • Semi-finals: bt Mirra Andreev 6-3, 6-1

01:54 PM BST

Swiatek’s road to the final

  • 1st round: bt Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2

  • 2nd round: bt Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5

  • 3rd round: bt Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2

  • 4th round: bt Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0

  • Quarter-finals: bt Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2

  • Semi-finals: bt Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4

01:49 PM BST

Eurosport’s Alex Corretja on Paolini’s chances

Of course, you never know. I mean the good thing from Paolini is that she can play solid from the baseline and she can hit hard with the forehand. I think most of the girls sometimes either hit very hard or are very solid, but I think Paolini has a great combination and maybe she can hurt Iga.

But Iga has been moving so well, of course the experience can help a lot. But maybe Paolini will say, okay I’m going to go for it, and I don’t care that much. We will see. I think it will be interesting but if Iga has her feet on the ground, it will be very tough to beat her.

01:44 PM BST

Final preparations underway

01:39 PM BST

‘Swiatek a clay-court phenomenon to rival Nadal’

At the northern end of Roland Garros stands a modernist statue of Rafael Nadal, fashioned from stainless steel. In 10 years’ time, will there be a matching Iga Swiatek beside it?

Like her idol Nadal, Swiatek is a clay-court phenomenon. At just 22, she has already won three French Opens, only one shy of his tally at the same age.

This week Swiatek returns to Paris to continue her relentless pursuit of titles. She comes in on a 12-match winning streak, having just become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2013 to lift the Madrid and Rome trophies back-to-back

Her dominance is such that bookmakers are going odds-on on a fourth Coupe Suzanne Lenglen. So, what makes Swiatek such an irresistible force?

Our tennis correspondent Simon Briggs explains all here.

01:33 PM BST

Eurosport’s Mats Wilander on Paolini’s chances

I think Paolini will only spend maybe five to ten minutes to understand what she has to do and from that point she has to play more aggressively than she did in the semi-finals. More aggressive than in any other match then she has probably played in her whole life.

It’s a very very difficult situation when you don’t have a big serve and win points, but she’s in the finals for the first time. Who knows? Maybe she wins two grand slams before she’s done. Maybe we haven’t seen the best of Paolini yet.

Iga Swiatek vs Jasmine Paolini live: French Open women's final updates
Jasmine Paolini is the underdog going into the final - Getty Images/Antonio Borga

01:21 PM BST

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01:12 PM BST

The players have arrived!

01:03 PM BST

French Open women’s final

Hello and welcome to coverage of the French Open women’s final between Iga Swiatek and Jasmine Paolini.

As a three time champion, Swiatek’s appearance on the final Saturday is not a shock but few would have picked Paolini to reach a maiden grand slam final.

The Italian had never made it beyond the second round of a major until this year but she has enjoyed the season of her career, making the fourth round at the Australian Open and winning the prestigious Dubai Open in February.

She is also through to the doubles final on Sunday with her compatriot Sara Errani.

“I step on court believing that I can win the match. That I think makes all the difference,” she said. “When you are not confident, it’s a little bit more complicated in tennis I think because it’s a really mental sport.

“I don’t think there was a special moment when it changed. I think it was like a process. I lost all the matches, more or less, against the top players, but I was getting closer. Now with more matches, let’s say, in my pocket, I feel more confidence in my game, in myself.

“My goal is to step on court on Saturday and try to enjoy the match, to enjoy that moment and to try to play a good match and to make a good performance on court.”

For Swiatek, after surviving a match point against Naomi Osaka in the second round, she has eased her way into the final but insist she is not taking Paolini for granted.

“I need to prepare tactically and see what her game is at now because for sure she’s had the best season,” the world No.1 said.

“So she must have changed something. Honestly, I haven’t watched her matches. I’ll just focus on myself and prepare tactically and try to be consistent with my tactics.”