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Paolini tips Swiatek to eclipse Evert's French Open mark

Jasmine Paolini poses with the runner-up trophy after her loss to Iga Swiatek in the French Open final (Dimitar DILKOFF)
Jasmine Paolini poses with the runner-up trophy after her loss to Iga Swiatek in the French Open final (Dimitar DILKOFF)

French Open runner-up Jasmine Paolini said she believed Iga Swiatek will set a new women's record for most Roland Garros titles after the Pole won the tournament for the fourth time on Saturday.

Italian 12th seed Paolini, playing in her first Grand Slam final, was beaten resoundingly by Swiatek, whose 6-2, 6-1 victory secured the world number one her third successive title in Paris.

Swiatek's win-loss record at the French Open now reads 35-2 in six appearances. Only Chris Evert (seven) and Steffi Graf (six) have lifted the trophy more often than Swiatek.

At 23, her four Roland Garros titles is the same number Rafael Nadal, the record 14-time men's champion, had at the same age.

"These numbers are not normal, (they) are something unbelievable," said the 28-year-old Paolini. "I think to play her here, it's something different."

Swiatek's victory came on the 50th anniversary of Evert's first Roland Garros title. The American presented Swiatek her trophy on Saturday alongside Martina Navratilova.

Asked whether Swiatek could eclipse Evert's seven French Open wins, Paolini had little doubt.

"Definitely," replied the Italian. "It's tough, you know, it's not easy. Every year it's tough to win a tournament. She already won four times, but yeah, I think she can do it."

Paolini was unable to follow in the footsteps of Francesca Schiavone, the only Italian woman to win the French Open.

She was just the third to reach the final, following her doubles partner Sara Errani, who was beaten by Maria Sharapova in 2012 -- two years after Schiavone's triumph.

- 'Happy moment' -

"Now it's a strange feeling. I just lost the final, but I think I have to be happy (about) those two weeks and my new ranking. It's a happy moment for me. It's not a sad moment."

"To play a Grand Slam final, it's beautiful," added Paolini, who will have another chance in the doubles on Sunday.

Paolini's loss was the heaviest in a French Open final since Justine Henin thrashed Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 6-2 in 2007, which like Swiatek's win Saturday also secured the Belgian a third successive Roland Garros crown.

Monica Seles is the only other woman to accomplish the feat, winning in 1990, 1991 and 1992 as a teenager.

"I never played a player who has this intensity before in my life. It was the most challenging match I played in my entire career," said Paolini, who has won only three games in each of her three defeats by Swiatek.

Nonetheless, Paolini has come a long way since a second-round loss to Olga Danilovic at last year's edition.

Paolini had not gone beyond the second round of a Grand Slam until she made the last 16 of the Australian Open in January.

Paolini had won a total of four matches in 16 Grand Slam appearances heading into 2024, but she will rise to a career high of seventh in the rankings on Monday.

"I don't know where this journey is going to take me. But I'm curious to discover," said Paolini.

"I don't know where the future can bring me. I don't know which one is my next dream. But I'm enjoying the moment."

mw/pb