Iga Swiatek Storms Into Fourth French Open Final With Win Over Gauff - UBITENNIS
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Iga Swiatek Storms Into Fourth French Open Final With Win Over Gauff

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Iga Swiatek is a win away from claiming her fourth French Open title after dismissing third seed Coco Gauff in the semi-finals. 

The world No.1 continued her surge in the tournament with a resounding 6-2, 6-4, win over world No.3 Gauff, who is the current US Open champion. Swiatek has now won 20 consecutive matches at Roland Garros which is a milestone that has only been matched by four other women in the Open Era. So far in year’s tournament, she has dropped one set which was against Naomi Osaka in the second round. 

Swiatek was able to dominate her latest match with the help of some costly mistakes from her rival, who hit 39 unforced errors. Her defensive skills proved to be too much for Gauff who struggled for consistency in her game. 

“It was intense,” Swiatek said during her on-court interview. “In the second set, it was kinda tight because we were breaking each other but I’m happy that I was consistent with my tactics. I didn’t overthink stuff and just went for it at the end.”

Swiatek, who had won 10 out of her 11 previous meetings against Gauff going into today’s match, got off to a dream start. A series of tentative shots from the American handed the top seed the early break as she went on to extend her lead. Swiatek was made to work harder in the first set than the score suggests with her saving break points in her two opening service games. However, she continued to maintain the upper hand in the match as she sealed the 6-2 lead in less than 40 minutes. 

Gauff’s frustration reached boiling early in the second set when the umpire made a questionable decision regarding a Swiatek serve in favour of the higher-ranked player. Prompting an argument to unfold between the umpire and the 20-year-old, who began to cry before going on to break for the first time.  

Gauff: “I didn’t even finish my follow through. He called it before I hit it. Can you ask him?” 
Umpire: “We cannot ask him.” 
Gauff: “They’re (the crowd) booing because you’re wrong… I have the right to finish my swing.” 
Umpire: “To me it didn’t affect the shot.” 
Gauff: “This is the 2nd time this has happened. It’s a Grand Slam Semifinal. Know the rules of the game.”

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Despite the blip, Swiatek managed to fight back against a lacklustre Gauff in clinical fashion by winning four games in a row to move to the verge of victory. Then after missing a trio of match-point chances against the Gauff Serve, she managed to seal victory in her own service game.  

“She’s progressing a lot, you can see that in her results.” She said in tribute to Gauff.
“Last year’s US Open showed that she’s tough and I think at her age it is obvious that she is going to grow. It’s nice to see her handling everything well around her because it is not easy. 
“I’m sure we are going to have plenty of more intense matches at the highest level. Coco is one of the consistent players out there.”

It is the 17th time in her career that Swiatek has beaten a top five player with 16 of those victories taking place after she moved to world No.1. She has now reached the final of Paris in four out of the last five years and another victory of Saturday would make her the first woman to claim the title for a third year in a row since Justine Henin.  

Awaiting her in the title match will be either Jasmine Paolini or Mirra Andreeva, who are two players yet to play in a Grand Slam final. She leads Paolini 2-0 in their head-to-head but is yet to play 17-year-old Andreeva on the Tour. 

“I’m trying to mix it up a little because how long can you stay in the same routine?” Swiatek replied when asked if she had any rituals ahead of the final.
“I’m socialising more but I am also that kind of player who wants to stay in the bubble. I want to balance it well.”

In the Open Era, Swiatek is the second-youngest player to make four French Open finals after Stefanie Graf in 1990.

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Jasmine Paolini Looks Great, But Krejcikova Is Next At Wimbledon

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Jasmine Paolini’s path to a Grand Slam title might have fallen apart in Wimbledon’s semifinals.

Barbara Krejcikova is just the kind of player Paolini might not want to face.

Otherwise, grass is good for Paolini. She just eats up all of those low ball-sliding grass shots that her opponents have been providing. Those shots are perfect for the 5-3 Italian. She doesn’t have to get down very low since she is naturally there already, and she has great quickness. So,  Wimbledon’s grass was made for someone like Paolini.

CAN PAOLINI HANDLE KREJCIKOVA’S BAG OF TRICKS

Krejcikova has a bag full of tricks to throw at Paolini. Balls come off her racket twisting and turning just enough to throw Paolini’s reach-back cocked forehands off their mark. And Krejcikova has the experience needed to bring home an overall 12th Grand Slam title.

But you have to admit that the stubby Paolini is quite a player. She’s like a bouncing ball running loose on the court.

Paolini definitely was a superb player against new star Emma Navarro, who could do little right against the little Italian. Paolini just did everything to Navarro’s game that Navarro had been using to dominate the Italian.

THE SLY GAME OF KREJCIKOVA

Navarro couldn’t take charge of the points against Paolini in the quarterfinals, just the opposite of Navarro’s play against powerful Coco Gauff in the round of 16.

But Krejcikova is so sly with her game that she can take the rhythm right out of Paolini’s game.

After all, Krejcikova won the 2021 French Open singles title. She also has been a part of doubles champions at all four Grand Slams, and has won a total of seven Grand Slam doubles titles and three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.

That’s 11 Grand Slam titles. What’s another title to the 28-year-old Czech?

VEKIC HAD HER CHANCES

Donna Vekic had her chances to end Paolini’s march to Saturday’s final, but the 28-year-old Croatian seemed to go for broke every time down the stretch when she had an add or deuce point. That’s probably why the 28-year-old Vekic has never been ranked higher than 19th in the world.

Time after time Vekic went for the jugular with sizzling  cross-court shots that narrowly missed the lines late in the third set before losing, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6.

Of course, Paolini’s amazing quickness may have had something to do with those misses.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Inspiration Key To Italy’s Tennis Success, Says Jasmine Paolini

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Jasmine Paolini - Wimbledon 2024 (X @wimbledon)

Unlike Italy’s disappointing exit from the Euros last month, their tennis stars continue to make waves at Wimbledon.  

Thursday at The All England Club saw Jasmine Paolini become the first woman from the country to reach a singles final in its history. The French Open finalist ousted Donna Vekic in a three-set epic, which was the longest semi-final match to take place in the women’s tournament. She is the first payer to reach the final of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year since Serena Williams in 2016. 

Paolini, who had never won a match at the grasscourt major until this year, isn’t the only Italian success. In the men’s draw, Lorenzo Musetti is enjoying his best-ever run at a major event after beating Taylor Fritz in a five-set battle on Wednesday. There is also Jannik Sinner who holds the ATP No.1 ranking, as well as many other strong players.

So how has Italy become such a force in tennis?

“I think we are inspiring each other,” Paolini commented on Thursday.
“I have to say in Italy there are many, many tournaments, like challengers, ITF, juniors.
“I think every player shows that something can be possible. Jannik is showing that. In Italy now it’s normal to have Jannik as No. 1. Normal, no, but he’s doing unbelievable things. I think he lost three matches this year, so it’s unbelievable to have him in that position. I think it helps all the movement behind it.
“Now we have many, many players that are doing really, really well, apart from Sinner.”

As it currently stands, Italy has nine men in the ATP top 100 and another five in the women’s top 100. The country also has a series of promising youngsters rising up the ranks. 

As for Musetti’s chances of matching Paolini’s run by reaching the final, he faces a tough task. He will next take on Novak Djokovic who is bidding to win a record-equalling eighth title at SW19. It will be the seventh meeting between the two with Musetti only winning one of their previous encounters on the clay. 

“Lorenzo is a really nice guy,” said Paolini. 
“I’m so happy for him. He has a huge talent. I think really good person. Hopefully, he can play a good match.”

This year’s Wimbledon featured three Italians in the singles quarter-finals (including Sinner who lost to Daniil Medvedev) for the first time in history. 

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‘It’s Tough To Be Positive’ – Tearful Donna Vekic On Wimbledon Exit

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Donna Vekic - Wimbledon 2024 (foto X @WTA)

Donna Vekic felt like she was ‘going to die’ during the third set of her record-breaking match against Jasmine Paolini at Wimbledon on Thursday. 

The Croat narrowly missed out on a place in her first Grand Slam final after losing 10-8 to Paolini in the decisive tiebreaker. Vekic battled on the court for two hours and 51 minutes in what was the longest women’s semi-final match to ever take place at SW19. After taking the first set, she got broken when down 4-5 in the second and then failed to maintain a 3-1 advantage in the decider. 

Thursday’s defeat is a bitter pill for Vekic to swallow who was visibly emotional during her press conference.

“I believed that I could win until the end. She played some amazing tennis. All congrats to her. She definitely deserved it.” She said. 
“She doesn’t have the best serve, but she’s serving well enough. I felt like also in the third set she was returning well.”

During stages of the match, Vekic looked weary on the court and was shaking her right arm at one stage, which was presumably due to cramping. Five out of her six matches played at the tournament had gone the full distance. The only exception was her second round clash against Erika Andreeva. 

“I thought I was going to die in the third set. I had so much pain in my arm, in my leg. It was not easy out there, but I will recover.” She said. 
“I was more crying because I had so much pain, I didn’t know how I could keep playing.”

Still, there are plenty of positives to draw from the grass swing for Vekic during what has been a roller-coaster season. At one stage of this year she failed to win back-to-back matches at five consecutive tournaments. But on the grass, she has faired better with a run to the final in Bad Homburg before Wimbledon.

However, with the defeat still fresh in her mind, it is tough for the world No.37 to look on the bright side at the moment.

“My team tells me that I can be proud of myself. It’s tough right now. It’s tough. I will need to take a couple of days to see everything.” She explains.
“It’s tough to be positive right now. It was so close. I had a lot of chances.”

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