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Paolini V Andreeva, Swiatek Beats Gauff: French Open Women’s Semi-Finals – Live

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Paolini beats Andreeva 6-3, 6-1!This is the first time in the Open era that Italian players have reached the French Open semi-finals in the men’s and women’s singles. Paolini says she’s been inspired by what Jannik Sinner has achieved this year … and the Italian renaissance has well and truly hit Paris because Paolini has three match points at 0-40! Paolini runs forward to the short ball – and completes the victory! No nerves there! The hugely likeable 28-year-old is into her first grand slam final having never been beyond the second round of a major before this year!

Paolini 6-3, 5-1 Andreeva*

A first ace from Paolini at the perfect moment, 15-30 down on serve, to scramble back to 30-all. But here’s a break point! “Come on, you’re going to do this, come on,” urges Martinez, Andreeva’s coach, aware that Andreeva hasn’t converted a single one in this match. A drop shot from Paolini … Andreeva chases it down but Paolini reads which way Andreeva is going … and puts away the volley! Deuce. Advantage Paolini after great hustle from Paolini. Jeu Paolini. She’s a game away!

Paolini breaks: Paolini* 6-3, 4-1 Andreeva

It’s not quite the end game yet for Andreeva, but time is starting to run out. 15-30. 15-40. Two points for Paolini to get a double break – which would give her a bit of breathing space as she seeks to serve this out to reach her first grand slam final. And Andreeva is almost in tears when she makes another error to give Paolini the break.

Paolini breaks: Paolini 6-3, 3-1 Andreeva*

Andreeva displays good aggression to get to 30-all on Paolini’s serve. She looks a little out of breath after her efforts and lets Paolini move to 40-30, and Andreeva has her head in her hands when she misdirects a backhand wide.

Paolini breaks: Paolini* 6-3, 2-1 Andreeva

This is getting messy for Andreeva. A first double fault from the Russian and she slumps to 0-40 on serve. Paolini is 1/1 on break points; Andreeva is 0/5. It’s very nearly a second double – Martinez can barely watch in the box – but the serve just drops in and Paolini prods long. 15-40. 30-40, after a delicate drop shot and lovely angled volley. But Andreeva dumps her backhand into the net and Paolini has the second-set break to add to her one-set advantage!

Paolini 6-3, 1-1 Andreeva*

Andreeva, remember, came from a set down in her quarter-final yesterday against Aryna Sabalenk – who was admittedly ailing – but it will give the Russian belief that she has the ability to produce a similar turnaround here. But it’s disappointing from Andreeva as she gets to 30-all on Paolini’s serve – before letting the Italian off the hook. “I’m trying,” an anguished Andreeva exclaims to her box.

Photograph: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty ImagesPaolini* 6-3, 0-1 Andreeva

Andreeva, the youngest grand slam semi-finalist since a 16-year-old Martina Hingis in 1997, leaves the court briefly after losing that first set to gather her thoughts. It does the trick, as she advances to 40-15. But Paolini is a pocket rocket on the next point, drive-volleying Andreeva into submission. Paolini is playing with more power than her much taller opponent. Paolini has said her form this year is the result of a more fearless approach – and she’s certainly demonstrating that here.

Paolini wins the first set 6-3!You wouldn’t know this is Paolini’s first slam semi-final. She looks nerveless on her way to 30-0. There’s a look of frustration from Andreeva towards her coach, Conchita Martinez, the 1994 Wimbledon champions, when Paolini brings up two set points at 40-15. And Andreeva isn’t able to make Paolini work for it because Andreeva’s return loops long!

Paolini wins the first set. Photograph: Jean-François Badias/APPaolini* 5-3 Andreeva

So Andreeva is serving to stay in this set. There are several chances here for Andreeva to come forward and finish the points – but she stays rooted to the baseline. Not the best tactic against an opponent who would be happy to scurry around the court until tomorrow. She doesn’t want to be playing Paolini at her own game. But Andreeva does come through from 30-all.

Paolini 5-2 Andreeva*

Andreeva started playing tennis only 11 years ago, at the age of six. Remarkable to think how much she has achieved already. Paolini charges to 15-0, 30-0, 40-0. But three well-crafted points from Andreeva – her high intelligence on the court belies her age – and it’s deuce. Advantage Andreeva, her fourth break point of the match. But this one comes and goes too. Andreeva hits the clay off her shoes in frustration. Advantage Andreeva, her fifth chance. Paolini forces Andreeva to hit a deep backhand and then sends Andreeva on a fruitless diagonal charge forward to a drop shot. Deuce. Paolini clips the sideline with a forehand winner and somehow survives with the hold!

Paolini* 4-2 Andreeva

The longest rally of this encounter so far – 19 shots – and Andreeva emerges victorious. 30-0. But a 12th unforced error from the Russian prodigy – Paolini has hit only four – and it’s 30-15. 40-15, but Paolini really should have done better. Paolini makes amends with her third winner. 40-30. And has the sniff of a double break when Andreeva snatches at her shot and nets. Deuce. But it becomes no more than that because Andreeva gets to advantage and then pulls off a second-serve ace!

Russia’s Mirra Andreeva plays a forehand return to Italy’s Jasmine Paolini. Photograph: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty ImagesPaolini 4-1 Andreeva*

Andreeva resets straight away, and brings up two break-back points at 15-40. Some superb defence from Paolini saves the first. She’ll run and run all day if she has to. The Italian grinder has the smallest stature at 5’4” but the biggest heart. And a poor return from Andreeva sees the second break point go begging too. Deuce. A high-class rally follows, now it’s Andreeva’s turn to show her defensive skills, and Andreeva has a third break point. Andreeva looks to have clinched it when Paolini’s forehand clips the net … but it somehow trickles over! Deuce. Advantage Paolini. Game Paolini, as Andreeva makes her 11th unforced error in only five games.

Paolini breaks: *Paolini 3-1 Andreeva

Paolini stunned the 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the quarter-finals yesterday, while Andreeva accounted for the reigning Australian Open champion and No 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka. Both, perhaps, are relieved to be playing again today, without a day off. Less time for them to think and for the nerves to set in. But neither are quite settled yet, it’s been stop-start so far. Paolini gains the first break point of the match at 30-40 on Andreeva’s serve, and Andreeva’s forehand fails. Paolini, the 12th seed, has the first break!

Paolini gains the first break point of the match. Photograph: Lisi Niesner/ReutersPaolini 2-1 Andreeva*

Apparently this is the biggest age gap in a Roland Garros women’s semi-final since a 30-year-old Chris Evert beat a 15-year-old Gabriela Sabatini in 1985. Andreeva wraps up a hold with a winning volley, and is doing her best to put the older player in her place, as she starts swinging to get to 0-30 on Paolini’s serve. Paolini pegs her back to 30-all, and then the Italian edges ahead of her Russian opponent for 40-30. And game.

Paolini 1-0 Andreeva*

Most of the crowd have left for a quick break, but no time for one on this live blog, because after the semi-final that everyone predicted from the start of the tournament, we’re on to the one that absolutely no one did. Paolini is serving first against Andreeva, and moves without any fuss to 40-15. Which is jeu when Andreeva goes wide.

You’d think the 28-year-old Paolini would have more experience than her 17-year-old opponent at this stage of a slam – but not so. Both are playing in their first major semi-final. Paolini had never been beyond the second round of a major before this year, while Andreeva reached the last 16 both at Wimbledon last summer and the Australian Open earlier this year.

Russia’s Mirra Andreeva. Photograph: Tim Goode/Getty ImagesThe main question is if the Gauff team can face how awful this match-up against Swiatek is and if they’re willing to take the time to retool Coco’s game dramatically to change the future of this rivalry.

Not an overstatement to say it will limit her career if unchanged.

— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) June 6, 2024 So it’s 20 consecutive match wins at Roland Garros for Swiatek, a third successive final here and a fourth overall. She’s not at Nadal’s levels yet, but she’s accumulating quite some record at Roland Garros, and will be the overwhelming favourite in the final against Mirra Andreeva or Jasmine Paolini. They’re up next – and have just stepped on to court to warm up. When you look at those stats there’s absolutely no shame for Gauff in losing to Swiatek today; Swiatek is simply the best clay-court player in the business. At least Gauff has the consolation of knowing that she’ll be the new world No 2 next week. But after her 11th defeat in 12 against Swiatek, she’s going to have to figure out how to cause Swiatek more problems away from Swiatek’s favoured clay courts.

Swiatek speaks:

It was intense. In the second set it was tight because we were breaking each other. I was consistent with my tactics and went for it.

I think Coco is progressing a lot, you can see by her results. Last year’s US Open shows she’s tough, she’s going to grow, so it’s nice to see her handling well everything around her. I’m sure we’re going to have many more matches at the highest level.

Something changed [after the second-round match against Naomi Osaka]. I didn’t have time to get into the match. After that, the weather changed, which helped my game, and I gained confidence.

Swiatek beats Gauff 6-2, 6-4!Swiatek, though, does now have the match on her racket, as she steps up to serve for a place in the final. 15-0. 15-all. The crowd are urging Gauff on here, they want more of this. The umpire is out of her chair on the next point to confirm that Gauff’s shot was indeed wide. 30-15. 40-15, when Gauff goes for broke on the return. Two more match points to add to Swiatek’s two from the previous game.

From Swiatek’s second serve, Gauff hits a deep, deep return, then into one corner, then the other, this is brave, brave hitting from the 20-year-old, and she saves a third match point! Can she save the fourth too? Swiatek aborts her ball toss – there’s a sign of nerves – and her first serve lands long. But the second serve goes in, and Gauff ends with her 39th unforced error! For the third year in a row, Gauff falls to the world No 1 at Roland Garros and Swiatek is into her fourth French Open final!

Poland’s Iga Swiatek celebrates winning her semi final match against Coco Gauff. Photograph: Lisi Niesner/ReutersSwiatek* 6-2, 5-4 Gauff

Gauff sees Swiatek’s winner on the previous point and raises it with a winner of her own … advantage Gauff … but Gauff then hits beyond the baseline! Chris Evert reckons Swiatek is winning about three-quarters of the longer rallies. Gauff could do with a couple of quick points here. The next one is speedy – but it doesn’t end in her favour, because she nets. Advantage Swiatek, a second match point. Swiatek misdirects her forehand! Deuce. Advantage Gauff. GAME GAUFF! THIS MATCH ISN’T ENDING JUST YET!

Swiatek 6-2, 5-3 Gauff*

So Gauff must hold here to remain in this semi-final. It starts well for her. 15-0, 30-0. But then there’s a vicious forehand from Swiatek – Gauff has barely finished her swing when Swiatek takes the ball on the rise and cracks it back, giving Gauff absolutely no time to breathe – 30-15. 40-15, after a second uncharacteristic mis-hit in this game from Swiatek. 40-30. Again just as Gauff thinks she’s getting away, Swiatek reels her back in. Deuce.

That’s 35 unforced errors from Gauff now compared with Swiatek’s 12 – if you can call Gauff’s unforced errors given her formidable opponent. And a 36th of the affair gives Swiatek her first match point. The pair go down the middle, then cross-court, then down the middle, and Gauff saves her best until nearly last with a gutsy inside-out forehand winner! Deuce. Advantage Gauff courtesy of a stinging serve down the middle. Deuce, as the game reaches nearly eight minutes …

Swiatek 6-2, 5-3 Gauff*

That’s three games in a row for Swiatek, after Gauff had led 3-1, as the three-times champion restores order in her Philippe Chatrier kingdom. The King of Clay may be no more – but we’re watching the Queen of Clay here. Swiatek moves within a game of her third successive Roland Garros final when Gauff can only send her return into the net. Make that four games in a row.

Swiatek breaks: Swiatek* 6-2, 4-3 Gauff

Oh no. The tension in this set has been building nicely but is in danger of a quicker than expected ending when Gauff goes 0-15, 0-30, 0-40 down. Three break points. Gauff’s ball sits up … Swiatek smashes … Gauff retrieves … but Swiatek makes no mistake with the second smash! Swiatek is a set and a break ahead and just two games from another French Open final.

Swiatek 6-2, 3-3 Gauff*

At 15-all on Swiatek’s serve, Swiatek strikes a cross-court forehand winner. She liked that, she did. A rare show of emotion from someone who’s usually so calm on court. That shows how much she’s being tested by Gauff here. Swiatek is left stranded at the net on game point, 40-15, as Gauff threads a winner down the line. 40-30. Game, when Swiatek jams the serve into Gauff’s body and Gauff can only ram into the net.

Swiatek breaks back: Swiatek* 6-2, 2-3 Gauff

Gauff is fist pumping. Her box are on their feet. But they’re celebrating a little too soon, because Swiatek has the chance for an immediate break back at 30-40. Gauff misses with her first serve, lands the second, but her forehand then clips the tape and loops into the tramlines.

Iga Swiatek breaks back! Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty ImagesGauff breaks: Swiatek 6-2, 1-3 Gauff*

Controversy at 0-15 on Swiatek’s serve. The umpire overrules a serve in and then gives the Pole the point, even though the call seemed to come while Gauff was hitting the return.

“I didn’t even finish my follow through, I have the right to finish my swing,” Gauff says to the umpire. “He called it before I hit it. The fans are booing because they know you’re wrong. I have to right to finish my swing.”

I think she’s right here. They should play a let. Gauff is in tears. But maybe this will give Gauff the fire she needs. 15-30. Gauff then biffs a backhand long and wipes away another tear. 30-all. But here’s a break point! 30-40. Swiatek smacks her forehand one way and then the other. Deuce. Advantage Swiatek. Deuce. Advantage Gauff. An absorbing rally ensues, the pair are really testing each other here, and Gauff gets it with a forehand that Swiatek can’t direct back into play!

Swiatek* 6-2, 1-2 Gauff

At 30-all, a good serve from Gauff and there’s a “C’MON”. Gauff’s serve has to be swinging here for the American to stand any chance. And Gauff grabs the game with a classic one-two punch.

Swiatek 6-2, 1-1 Gauff*

Another thing that Gauff has going for her is her mentality – her forehand may be fragile but her strong mind helps make up for it. She won’t be affected by losing the first set – as she showed when she came from a set down against Ons Jabeur in the quarter-final. Gauff’s found a way this year to scrap and grind out wins when not at her best – winning ugly, as her coach Brad Gilbert would say. But Swiatek just isn’t missing here. She’s hit only 7 unforced errors to Gauff’s 25. And she holds here to 15.

Swiatek* 6-2, 0-1 Gauff

Gauff has now lost 22 of the 24 sets she has played against Swiatek. Is there anything she can hold on to going into this second set? Well, her backhand has been firing, but I just can’t see how – with her vulnerable forehand – she can get past the defending champion. It’s a bad match-up for her – like Stefanos Tsitsipas against Carlos Alcaraz on Tuesday. Credit to Gauff here – she decides to change tack with a winning drop shot against a stumbling Swiatek. It’s not often the Pole’s made to look like a slouch. Deuce. Advantage Gauff. Deuce. A vital hold for Gauff, surely. Advantage Gauff. Game. She has something to build on here, at least.

Swiatek wins the first set 6-2!Gauff will at least be buoyed by the fact she’s had a couple of break points in this set. But a 16th unforced error of the day and Swiatek takes the first point on her serve. 15-0. 15-all. The match started in cloud but sun is now bathing the court. And the sun is most certainly shining on Swiatek, as she glides to 30-15 and then 40-15 after another wobbly forehand from Gauff. Two set points. And Gauff gifts it to her as the American’s forehand flumps into the net.

Work to do for Coco Gauff in the second set. Photograph: Yoan Valat/EPASwiatek* 5-2 Gauff

Gauff does at least rally here, getting to 40-15 despite a wonderful crouching shot from Swiatek, and the American seals the game by smacking down the smash. That’ll have felt good. Hopefully it’s got rid of a bit of frustration, too, because she’s now got to find a way to break Swiatek if this set is to go on for more than one more game.

Swiatek 5-1 Gauff*

Swiatek is such a formidable frontrunner, this is surely a must-win game for Gauff to stay in the set. A brilliant duel at 15-0, 19 shots, the longest rally of the match so far, and it’s Swiatek who takes it! 30-0. 40-0. Game. The clay is turning into quicksand for Gauff now. After an encouraging start Gauff is being suffocated here and must hold serve to stay in the set.

Swiatek breaks: Swiatek* 4-1 Gauff

Despite the scoreline, Gauff has made Swiatek work hard here, certainly much harder than the world No 1 has had to do since that second-round escape against Osaka. The problem for Gauff is that in order to push the Pole she’s going for her shots, but is making a few too many errors. Another errant shot and then a double fault. 15-40, two break points. Another backhand winner for the highlights reel for Gauff. 30-40. But a 13th unforced error and there’s the double break.

Swiatek 3-1 Gauff*

Swiatek has lost only once on clay this season, having won back-to-back titles in Madrid and Rome before heading to the French Open, where she’s won the title the past two years and is on a 19-match winning streak.

Swiatek serves to Gauff’s forehand on the first point here – a smart tactic to target that side – but Swiatek then decides to mix it up, serving to Gauff’s backhand, and Gauff dismisses it for a winner. Best stick to the forehand, Iga. After sliding break point down, at 30-40, Swiatek does exactly that, Gauff gets it back but then makes a disappointing error. Deuce. Advantage Swiatek. Deuce, when Gauff’s power finally beats Swiatek’s supreme reactions at the net! Advantage Swiatek. Deuce, after a Gauff lob that just lands in! Gauff hits an ugly return that almost rockets into the stands it was so wild, and Swiatek holds.

Photograph: Stéphanie Lecocq/ReutersSwiatek* 2-1 Gauff

That previous game encapsulated the problem that Gauff faces this afternoon: she worked so hard to get into a game-winning position, but Swiatek is such a formidable player on the big points and gives away so few errors. A strong serve at 15-0 gives Gauff a cheap point for 30-0. She needs plenty more of those this afternoon. 40-0, as Swiatek sprays a rare errant forehand wide. 40-15, as Swiatek steps into the forecourt and puts away the winner. Is there a better mover than her in the women’s game? I don’t think so. But Gauff holds to 15.

Swiatek 2-0 Gauff*

Naomi Osaka came within a point of beating Swiatek in the second round, but the difference between that match and this one is that Gauff doesn’t hit the ball quite as hard as Osaka.

Gauff does have plenty of punch on her backhand though, and drives one down the line for 15-all. A few more penetrating backhands from Gauff on the next point, she works the point well, coming into the net, but Swiatek’s ball dips dangerously into the clay and Gauff can’t get it back. 30-15. 40-15. Another backhand winner from Gauff, wow. 40-30. If only Gauff’s forehand was as good as her backhand she’d be unbeatable. Make that a third backhand winner. Deuce. Advantage Gauff, break-back point. But an untimely first backhand error from Gauff and they’re back at deuce … and from there Swiatek survives.

Swiatek breaks: Swiatek* 1-0 Gauff

Chris Evert is saying on the Eurosport commentary that she thinks the key for Gauff today is her serve. She’s hit twice as many double faults as aces this year, and given that Swiatek is the best returner on the tour, if not the best, Gauff needs to have a high first-serve percentage. Swiatek will keep puncturing holes in Gauff’s serve if it’s not aggressive enough.

To highlight this, Swiatek immediately sprints to 0-30 on Gauff’s serve. Gauff recovers to 15-30, and the point of the game then plays out, which Swiatek takes with a bruising backhand down the line. 15-40, two break points. And Gauff gets her drive volley all wrong and Swiatek strikes from the off!

Do get in touch with any thoughts: you can email [email protected]

All 10 of Gauff’s defeats by Swiatek have been in straight sets, including the 2022 final at Roland Garros and in last year’s quarter-finals. What’s hard for the 20-year-old in this match-up is that for all of her strengths – her backhand, her athleticism, her mentality – she’s got an iffy forehand that Swiatek can target with her own forehand, which is so powerful and top-spin heavy.

And here come the players, headphones on, as they always are. Which is a shame because they probably don’t fully hear the loud reception they get from the crowd. But it’s good to see that the stands are nearly full. The Parisian patrons have been a bit tardy so far this fortnight, but they don’t want to be late for this one.

Gauff on the mental challenge of facing Swiatek:

I think you just get older and learn how to handle the pressures a little bit more. I don’t have a mental coach or anything like that sports-related, but it is something that I knew I had to improve and just be more positive … and realising that I can’t beat myself and also my opponent beating me.

She’s definitely a tough opponent for me and for anybody. I think for me I just have to go back and watch [previous matches] and try to find what I have to do.

I think she’s playing great tennis here, so it’s going to be a challenge, but I’m going to go into the match with a lot of belief that I can.

Swiatek on why she’s not taking Gauff lightly despite beating her in 10 of their 11 meetings:

I think her mental game is a little bit better, and before it was kind of easier to ‘crack her’, I would say, when you were leading.

But it’s normal that she’s making progress. She’s at that age that everything goes pretty nicely that if you’re working hard, then you will get progress.

Probably every aspect of her game is a little bit better, because, yeah, it’s different being a teenager on the tour and then being a more mature player.

One match has already been completed on Philippe Chatrier today, with Britain’s Neal Skupski and his American partner Desirae Krawczyk losing the mixed doubles final, 6-4, 7-5 to Laura Siegemund and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

Elsewhere, another Briton, Alfie Hewett, has been knocked out in the men’s singles wheelchair semi-finals. The top seed was defeated 7-5, 6-7 (1), 6-2 by the Argentinian Gustavo Fernandez.

Another trip down memory lane:

Or you’ve got nearly enough time to watch this. YouTube comes up short on the “Henin 2007 final” search, but here’s Seles beating Steffi Graf in the 1992 final:

Fancy some reading while we wait?


3pm/2pm BST

(1) Iga Swiatek (Poland) v (3) Coco Gauff (US)

Not before 5pm/4pm BST

(12) Jasmine Paolini (Italy) v Mirra Andreeva (Russia)

PreambleTennis, bloody hell. Only eight days ago Iga Swiatek was down and very nearly out against an inspired Naomi Osaka in the second round, coming from 5-2 behind in the final set and saving a match point to keep her bid for a third consecutive French Open title alive.

But instead of that narrow escape putting any doubt in the world No 1’s mind, it has had the opposite effect. She has treated her opponents with utter disdain since, conceding only eight games in three matches (half of those six sets have been won 6-0), and she made Marketa Vondrousova look like a world No 500 rather than a reigning Wimbledon champion in the 6-0, 6-2 quarter-final rout.

Yesterday’s results gave her even more momentum when her toughest rivals on tour, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina, were bundled out in the other half of the draw. Swiatek knows that if she gets past Coco Gauff in their semi-final today – and the chances are that she will given this is a profitable match-up for her, having beaten the American in 10 of their 11 meetings – she’ll be the overwhelming favourite in Saturday’s final against Mirra Andreeva or Jasmine Paolini.

But making this all about Swiatek would do a disservice to Gauff – and Andreeva and Paolini. There has been so much to like about Gauff this tournament, especially the way she dealt with a resurgent Ons Jabeur in her gutsy three-set comeback win on Tuesday. Gauff – still only 20 – will be the new world No 2 next week, a reward for the supreme consistency she has achieved since winning the US Open last year. And Andreeva and Paolini deserve plenty of credit for the way they overcame their far more illustrious opponents yesterday; one of them will now reach their first slam final.

Swiatek knows this title is now hers for the taking, which would make her only the third woman to win three successive Roland Garros titles in the Open era after Monica Seles in 1990-92 and Justine Henin in 2005-07. But yesterday’s shockwaves are still reverberating around Roland Garros, and they serve as a reminder that nothing is guaranteed. And that, of course, is why we watch.

Play begins at: 2pm BST/3pm Paris time. Don’t be late!

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