Jasmine Paolini - Roland Garros 2024

Jasmine Paolini: I never dreamed to be in a Grand Slam final

Jasmine Paolini has spoken about finding success later on in her career, with the 28-year-old revealing what she finds ‘surprising’ about both Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner. 

Paolini is into her first ever Grand Slam final after beating teenager Mirra Andreeva, 6-3 6-1, in the Roland Garros semi-final yesterday.

It has been a breakout year for the Italian, who will become a top 10 player for the first time on Monday, after winning her maiden WTA 1000 title in Dubai and now reaching a first major final.

Prior to this year, Paolini had never even surpassed the second round of a Grand Slam and spoke to press about how she never thought this could be a reality in her younger years.

“When I started to play tennis, I was just enjoying. Yeah, I was not dreaming too much,” explained Paolini. “I was just enjoying playing tennis.

“Then I started to train like a professional tennis player. I was dreaming to become a professional, and I never dreamed to be, you know, No.1, Grand Slam champion. Never dreamed so big. Never. Never maybe dream to be in the top 10, but I was hoping, but not really believe it, you know, believe in this.”

She added, “I think step by step I started to believe, but to dream, but for closer things. You know, not too far. That I think it’s not so positive because, you know, I think it’s important to dream, but I started to dream I think step by step. Not, you know, too far away.”

Paolini then referred to the top two ranked players on the ATP Tour in Djokovic and compatriot Sinner, who had been more open about their desire to reach the top of the sport at such an early age.

“For me it’s surprising to see interviews from Nole [Djokovic] when he was a kid saying that he wanted to be World No.1 and Wimbledon. I watch this, and I said, it’s unbelievable that you can dream as a child. I didn’t dream it, you know, when I was a child.

“It’s unbelievable to see Jannik when he was 15-years-old say that his dream was to be No.1, and for me it’s something different. I never dreamed to be I think in a Grand Slam final, and I’m here. I’m so happy, but it’s something different. I’m a different kind of person I think.”

Paolini will play WTA No.1 Iga Swiatek in the final, with the pair actually having a lot more in common than many would think.

Although Paolini is born and raised in Italy, her mother is half Polish, which has enabled the two 2024 Roland Garros finalists to have somewhat of a closer relationship than many would have imagined.

“I try to speak in Polish, but it’s not easy,” admitted Paolini. I’m a little bit shy, because I’m not feeling really confident in it, but of course, when I see her [Swiatek], I say congratulations for the titles she can win.

“The same, she does. She congratulated me after Dubai. She wishes me good luck after matches when we meet in the locker room. So, yeah, I try to speak Polish, but, you know, it’s not easy for me, but we have a relationship, yeah.”

Swiatek will be the overwhelming favourite to claim the victory in the Roland Garros final, as a three-time previous champion, but Paolini has spoke of her aim to ‘make a good performance’ tomorrow.

“Iga is an unbelievable player, as I said. So young, but so many achievements and Grand Slams,” said the two-time WTA title winner. “Here she won three times. She’s doing well week by week, and that’s not easy.

“So l have huge respect for her, but my goal is to step on court Saturday and try to enjoy the match and to enjoy that moment and to try to play a good match and to make a good performance on court, you know, yeah.”

Paolini may be involved in two Roland Garros finals this year, as she is currently embroiled in a doubles semi-final alongside compatriot Sara Errani.

Inside the baseline…

It has been a breakout season for Jasmine Paolini with so many firsts, but this has to be the peak for her – regardless of the outcome tomorrow. On Monday, Paolini will be ranked at least as world No.7 (No.5 if she wins the title!) which just goes to show how impressive the Italian has been. Hopefully the final can be competitive tomorrow, with Swiatek winning both of their two previous meetings.

READ NEXT: Iga Swiatek ‘proud’ to be ‘mentioned in the same sentence’ as Rafael Nadal

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.