Jasmine Paolini reaches first French Open semifinal with win over Elena Rybakina

A day after was Jannik Sinner confirmed as the new world No. 1, Italian tennis was celebrating another first: Jasmine Paolini reaching a maiden Grand Slam semi-final.

Paolini, a 28-year-old from Tuscany and the No. 12 seed here, has made huge improvements in 2024, and on Wednesday edged past the former Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in three sets to reach the last four at Roland Garros.

In what was often a tight, error-strewn match, Paolini held her nerve to serve out for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory and eliminate the No. 4 seed.

Prior to this year, Paolini had never gone beyond the second round of a major, but after reaching the last-16 at the Australian Open, she served notice of her improvement by winning the Dubai Tennis Championships, a WTA 1000 event, one rung below the Grand Slams, in February.

Rybakina looked badly off the pace in the first set, but rallied to pinch the second. The third began with four breaks of serve, before Paolini, who at 5ft 4in gave up eight inches to her much more powerful opponent, took advantage of one last slack service game from Rybakina and grabbed the decisive break.


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Beaming after her win, Paolini said in her on-court interview that: “It was a really tough match. I think I was a bit too emotional in the second set. Then I said to myself, ‘It’s good, she’s a great champion. Just try and hit every ball.’ And it worked – I’m here.”

Next up for Paolini is a semi-final on Thursday against either the world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka or the unseeded Russian 17 year old Mirra Andreeva.

(Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

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