‘Queen of Clay’ Iga Swiatek races to third straight French Open title

Iga Swiatek swept to a fourth French Open crown to keep her Queen of Clay title at Roland Garros.

The world number one from Poland brushed aside Italian underdog Jasmine Paolini 6-2 6-1 in and hour and eight minutes.

King of Clay Rafael Nadal may have played his last French Open this year but Swiatek comprehensively proved once again she is also Roland Garros royalty.

She is the first woman to win three consecutive Roland Garros titles since Justine Henin in 2007 and only the third to achieve the feat in Open history, along with Monica Seles.

Swiatek is undefeated in Paris since 2021, 21 matches ago, and has won 34 of her 36 matches here, a record matched only by Seles and Chris Evert.

Such is her dominance there were even fears that Swiatek – who had already won one match 6-0 6-0 in 40 minutes this fortnight – could threaten the record for the fastest match of 32 minutes when Steffi Graf pulverised Natasha Zvereva by the same score in the 1988 final.

After all Paolini, the 12th seed, had until this year never been past the second round at a grand slam.

Iga Swiatek jumps in celebration with her arms outstretched
Iga Swiatek celebrates her victory (Christophe Ena/AP)

But the 28-year-old dispelled that notion when she survived a break point to hold in her first service game and then broke the world number one in the next.

She was cheered on by a healthy Italian contingent including one noisy corner who formed a tricolour mosaic with their green, white and red t-shirts.

But the bear had been poked and Paolini only won four more points in the next five games as Swiatek raced to the opening set.

She had won 10 in a row before Paolini got on the board again, but Swiatek wrapped up her fifth grand slam title moments later and sunk to her knees in celebration.

Iga Swiatek sinks to her knees in celebration after winning the French Open title
Iga Swiatek has won three French Open titles in a row (Christophe Ena/AP)

Paolini was officially the runner-up, but Naomi Osaka should probably get a trophy for being the only player to lay a glove on Swiatek all fortnight, having taken her to match point in the second round in what was the match of the tournament, on either side of the draw.

Osaka aside, no player took more than six games off Swiatek, who at one point had won 20 consecutive games over three matches.

Evert and Martina Navratilova, with nine Roland Garros titles between them, presented the runners-up plate to Paolini and the winners’ trophy to Swiatek.

“I was almost out of the tournament in the second round – it’s been a really emotional tournament,” said Swiatek.

Paolini at least has another shot at a Roland Garros title, as she returns on Sunday for the doubles final alongside Italian partner Sara Errani.

“It’s been an intense 15 days but the best days of my life. I’m really proud of myself,” she said.