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Analysis: Sizzling Iga Swiatek sinks Jasmine Paolini for French Open three-peat

Analysis: Sizzling Swiatek sinks Paolini for French Open three-peat
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Sports Mole analyses Iga Swiatek's emphatic 6-2 6-1 victory over Jasmine Paolini in the French Open final as the Pole wins her third straight Roland-Garros title.

Iga Swiatek became just the third woman in the Open Era to win three straight French Open titles with an emphatic 6-2 6-1 victory over first-time Grand Slam finalist Jasmine Paolini on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Already proudly sporting the 'queen of clay' label after her Roland-Garros triumphs in 2020, 2022 and 2023 - not to mention her successes in Madrid and Rome this year - the world number one suffered the first break of the match but was irrepressible thereafter.

Joining Monica Seles and Justine Henin as the third woman to triumph in three consecutive French Opens, Swiatek is now a four-time Roland-Garros winner and five-time major champion, subjecting the 12th seed to a merciless masterclass in the French capital.

While there was no famed bagel for Swiatek, the 23-year-old's status as French Open champion was never in doubt, and here, Sports Mole analyses Swiatek's exhilarating performance on Court Philippe-Chatrier.


Set 1 - Swiatek battles back from shaky start

Characteristically aggressive from the off, Swiatek reeled off some early backhand and forehand winners to seal an immediate hold to 30 and bring up a first break point in Paolini's opening service game, but the Italian survived as a Swiatek backhand clipped the net tape and landed wide.

The forehand then began to fail the world number one in the third game, where Paolini drew her in with a drop shot and fashioned two unexpected break points, taking her first opportunity as a forehand on Swiatek's second serve landed long.

The Pole had six unforced errors to her name from the opening three games, being broken gave her the kick she needed to revert to type, immediately breaking back with a stunning backhand winner on Paolini's second serve.

Targeting the 12th seed's backhand then started to work a treat for the reigning champion, who backed up the break and then established a 4-2 lead on an untimely double fault for the Italian, who was now facing the Swiatek that usually graces the Roland-Garros courts.

Working Paolini across the court expertly, Swiatek moved one game away from taking the first set with a forehand volley at the net and concluded the opener ruthlessly, breaking to love as an off-balance Paolini sent a forehand into the net.

While the three-time winner committed one more unforced error than Paolini in the first set, she struck 10 winners compared to the 12th seed's three and won a staggering 75% of return points on her opponent's first serve.


Set 2 - Paolini avoids bagel before Swiatek reigns supreme

Picking up where she left off in the first set with a slick hold to 15, Swiatek benefitted from another double fault from Paolini in the second game, as the crowd did their utmost to revive the dejected Italian.

Their efforts briefly worked as she saved two break points - including one with an ace - but the 28-year-old quickly crumbled, sending two shots into the net and shanking a horrendous forehand long and wide to gift Swiatek a 2-0 lead.

The Pole's fourth Roland-Garros coronation was seemingly just a matter of time, as she stormed into a 3-0 lead with a love hold and continued her surge to glory with the double break, blasting an unstoppable cross-court backhand past Paolini on the Italian's second serve.

Even though the writing was on the wall for Paolini at 0-4 down, she belatedly found a higher gear in the fifth game - getting to 30-30 thanks to a crisp forehand winner and backhand volley at the net - but her resurgence was short-lived as Swiatek moved one game away from glory.

Serving to stay in the match, Paolini avoided falling to the same 0-6 fate as many of Swiatek's victims with a stunning forehand winner into the corner, affording a raised fist towards her box in what looked to be a final eye-catching contribution.

The 28-year-old raised fleeting hopes of prolonging the final by getting to 30-30 as the world number one tried to serve for the title, but in the end, it was one step too far for Paolini, who could only return a rapid Swiatek serve long on match point before the Pole broke out into her trademark celebration.


Pick of the stats - Swiatek exhibits returning dominance

Neither Swiatek nor Paolini were overwhelmingly dominant on serve during the one-hour and eight-minute showdown, firing just one ace apiece and landing fewer than 70% of their first serves, but the statistics underlined the champion's returning mastery.

Indeed, she won over 60% of points behind both Paolini's first and second serves and took five of the nine break points presented to her, while Paolini was one for one in that regard but was just unable to wear down the Pole's defences after drawing first blood early.

Swiatek responded to that quick break with a remarkable 10-game winning sequence and ended the final with 18 winners compared to just seven for Paolini, while striking 13 unforced errors as Paolini registered 18.

Furthermore, the world number one has extended her perfect record in major finals to 5-0, while also becoming just the second woman to win Madrid, Rome and Roland-Garros in one season, following in Serena Williams's footsteps.

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