Swiatek Completes Three-Peat At Roland-Garros

Iga Swiatek (photo: Jürgen Hasenkopf)

PARIS/WASHINGTON, June 8, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

Iga Swiatek was all business from first ball to last one in her latest Roland-Garros final. On a beautiful Saturday in Paris, and with a full house of fans packing Court Philippe-Chatrier, the World No. 1 and top seed from Poland completed a French Open three-peat by defeating No. 12 seed Jasmine Paolini of Italy, 6-2, 6-1 in an hour and eight minutes.

Just 23, Swiatek won her fourth Roland-Garros women’s singles title in five years and it was her fifth major crown overall. She also improved to 22-4 in tour singles finals, proving to be one of the best closers in women’s tennis.

The Polish superstar from Warsaw won her latest major title, in which she lost only one set in seven matches, by exuding both superior physical and mental skills. She has now won 21 straight matches at Roland-Garros over the past three Parisian fortnights, fourth-longest at the tournament in the Open Era, behind seven-time champion Chris Evert (29), Monica Seles (25) and Justine Henin (24). Her career record on clay is now 85-10 and she’s 35-2 lifetime in Paris.

“I already achieved much more than I ever expected and even set my goals to,” Swiatek told NBC’s Maria Taylor, in an interview after the trophy ceremony. “I’m just doing everything step by step and enjoying every match and every title. My goal is to be a better player. And I feel like I’m a better player than last year. I’m proud of that.”

Swiatek outpointed Paolini 57-31. She hit 18 winners, made only 13 unforced errors and converted five of nine break points. Paolini countered with just seven winners and committed 18 unforced errors plus 21 forced errors. She converted the only break point she had which came early in the match.

From the outset, Swiatek dominated the 35-minute opening set by winning five games in row. She closed it out with authority at love and took advantage of her third break of Paolini’s serve after the Italian netted a forehand return. After Paolini broke early on to go ahead 2-1, from there it was all Swiatek, who relentlessly kept applying the pressure on her overmatched opponent.

The defending champion, who had lost only one set in her three previous Roland-Garros finals, opened Iga’s Bakery for business in the second set. Soon, she widened her lead to 5-0 with two breaks of Paolini’s serve, and consolidated both breaks with solid holds of her own serve. Before the match had eclipsed an hour, Swiatek was a game away from another French celebration. As the crowd cheered for both players, Paolini finally won a game after Swiatek had garnered 10 straight. It ensured there would be no bagel sets on championship Saturday but there would be a breadstick one.

At last, Swiatek closed out the title match by winning 11 of the last 12 games, including her last service game. It was game, set, match and another title for Swiatek, who jumped for joy about the court, then celebrated with her team, including her father, up in the stands.

“Today was tough,” the 28-year-old Paolini from Tuscany said in accepting her runner-up plate from Hall of Fame greats Martina Navratilova and Evert. “But I am really proud of myself anyway.”

Paolini, whose ranking will climb to No. 7 on Monday, will have a chance at redemption Sunday as she and fellow Italian Sara Errani will go after the women’s doubles title against American Coco Gauff and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic.

Although the diminutive, 5-foot-4 Paolini gave it her all in her first Grand Slam final, there was no stopping Swiatek. Time and again, she has proven herself to be a clay-court master – and a title master, too. With her legacy in Paris forever secured as the Queen of Clay, Swiatek now is 5-0 in major finals, and has become the first woman in 10 years to win three straight titles at any of the tennis’s four Grand Slams.

Arevalo and Pavic win men’s doubles title, Golden Slam for Pavic

In just their second major as a team, Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and Crotia’s Mate Pavic have won the Roland-Garros men’s double title. The El Salvadoran/Croatian duo defeated Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori of Italy, 7-5, 6-3, in an hour and 32 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Their title victory came a day after Arevalo and Pavic upset the top seeds, Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina.

The victory was special for both of the winners. The 30-year-old Pavic completed a Golden Slam — winning all four majors along with Olympic gold — with the addition of the Roland-Garros prize. Pavic joined Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut as the only active men’s players to win all four doubles majors.

“It feels special,” Pavic said during the trophy ceremony. “I want to say a special thanks to Marcelo for bringing me here to the top. He knows how it’s done, a few years ago he won it. First time [at Roland-Garros] obviously, so I feel very happy.”

Added Arevalo, 33, who previously won at Roland-Garros with Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands in 2022: “A lot of emotion. I want to think Mate for trusting me, for believing in me to fight together. Two crazy weeks, a lot of tough matches. We did it together, man. I’m really happy and the second title here feel special.”

Another record-breaking win by De Groot

Call Dutchwoman Diede De Groot Diede the Great. Saturday on Court Philippe-Chatrier, she won her fifth Roland-Garros wheelchair singles title. The World No. 1 defeated Zhu Zhenzhen of China, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, to lift a remarkable 14th consecutive Grand Slam singles title. She’s compiled 48 straight Grand Slam wins.

By winning a record 22nd major singles trophy, De Groot has surpassed compatriot Esther Vergeer.

“Of course, I’m really proud to now have this record, but at the same time, I know the conditions when Esther played. She couldn’t play singles at Wimbledon, a lot of the Grand Slams weren’t even called Grand Slams yet,” the 27-year-old De Groot said.

Around Roland-Garros

• American lefty Kaylan Bigun came into the Roland Garros junior boys’ final on an 11-match winning streak. The fifth-seeded Bigun made it 12 with his 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over unseeded Tomasz Berkieta of Poland in an hour and 52 minutes on Court Simonne-Mathieu.

The 18-year-old Bigun is the fourth American player to win a Roland-Garros boys’ singles title after John McEnroe in 1977, Bjorn Fratangelo in 2011 and Tommy Paul in 2015.

• In an all-Czech Republic final, No. 12 seed Tereza Valentova defeated third seed Laura Samson, 6-3, 7-6 (0), to win the junior girls’ title. It’s the first junior Grand Slam title for the 17-year-old – and it was a history-making one as Valentova and Samson contested the first all-Czech junior final in Grand Slam history at Roland-Garros. The match lasted one-hour and 40-minutes on Court Simonne-Mathieu.

Valentova, who did not drop set in the tournament, became the third Czech girl in the last four years to win the title in Paris, joining Linda Noskova (2021) and Lucie Havlickova (2022) and the sixth overall.

Saturday’s Roland-Garros results

Sunday’s Roland-Garros order of play

By the numbers

• Since the start of the 2020 season, Iga Swiatek (72) holds the most women’s singles match wins at Grand Slam events of any player.

Iga Swiatek is the first woman since Serena Williams in 2013 to win Madrid, Rome and Roland-Garros in the same season. She’s also the youngest woman in the Open Era to win four French Opens, and the first woman since Serena Williams to win three consecutive titles at a major.

“Quotable …”

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

Iga Swiatek, during her trophy acceptance speech after winning her fourth career Roland-Garros title.