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Swiatek returns to French Open final as Paolini stops Andreeva

football06 June 2024 16:39| © AFP
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Iga Swiatek moved closer to a third successive French Open title by dismantling American third seed Coco Gauff on Thursday and she will play Jasmine Paolini in the final after the Italian downed Mirra Andreeva.


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World number one Swiatek defeated US Open champion Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4 to extend her winning streak in Paris to 20 matches and continue the Pole's dominance of her American rival.

Swiatek has now won 11 of her 12 matches against Gauff, all in straight sets, and could become only the fourth woman to win four Roland Garros titles in the Open era -- after Justine Henin, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf.

Her career win-loss record at Roland Garros stands at a staggering 34-2, and she has barely broken sweat since saving a match point against Naomi Osaka in the second round.

"Something changed, I just adjusted better to the court and it's not easy to play the first matches at a Grand Slam because the atmosphere is much different to other tournaments," said Swiatek.

She immediately grabbed the initiative against Gauff with a break in the opening game of the match.

Swiatek withstood break points in her first two service games, before striking again to move up a double break at 4-1.

She closed out the first set without trouble, but Gauff threatened a fightback when she nosed 3-1 ahead in the second set after wiping away tears following an argument with the chair umpire over a line call.

Swiatek though responded the very next game and won four in a row, eventually clinching victory on her fourth match point.

"I was consistent with my tactics, didn't overthink stuff and just went for it in the end," said Swiatek, who has won all four of her previous Grand Slam finals.

The 23-year-old has now beaten Gauff at each of the past three French Opens, after last year's quarterfinals and the 2022 final.

"She's a tough matchup for me, obviously. I think the numbers answer that question," said Gauff, who will rise to world number two next week.

STEADY PAOLINI STEERS PAST ANDREEVA

Paolini will be the unexpected challenger to Swiatek's crown on Saturday after the 28-year-old Italian swept past Andreeva 6-3, 6-1.

The 12th seed had never gone beyond the second round of a major before the start of this year, winning a total of four matches in 16 Grand Slams before advancing to the fourth round of the Australian Open in January.

Now she is one win away from an improbable title at Roland Garros as she tries to emulate compatriot Francesca Schiavone, who won the 2010 French Open.

"I learned I think a little bit later than other players, to dream is the most important thing in sport and in life," said Paolini.

"I'm happy I could dream this moment. I don't know what to say, I'm so emotional."

Andreeva had become the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist in 27 years with a shock victory over second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the last eight.

But her bid to be crowned the youngest major champion since Martina Hingis at the 1997 US Open was cut short as Andreeva appeared overawed by the occasion, leaving the court in tears after an error-strewn display.

Novak Djokovic said earlier on Thursday he had undergone an operation on his injured right knee and that it "went well".

The 24-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic was hurt in his last-16 win and forced to withdraw ahead of his quarterfinal against Casper Ruud after a scan revealed a torn medial meniscus in his right knee.

"In the past day, I had to make some tough decisions after sustaining a meniscus tear during my last match," he posted on social media.

"I'm still processing it all but I am happy to update you that the surgery went well."

The 37-year-old made no mention of whether he would be fit to take part at Wimbledon which begins on 1 July but added that he was going to "do my best to be healthy and fit to return to the court as soon as possible".

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