Mirra Andreeva v Jasmine Paolini 2024 French Open Roland Garros Semi-Final Match Preview as unexpected duo face off

Thursday, 06 June 2024 at 16:53
The final will be set at the 2024 French Open on Thursday with the second part of the line-up seeing Mirra Andreeva face off against Jasmine Paolini. Our preview looks ahead to the second semi-final which will bookend the opener between Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff.
It is perhaps the tale of two players who were expected to reach this point in Swiatek and Gauff vs two players who certainly had the game to reach this point but also weren't expected to given who they were facing. But both have had landmark runs which they will aim to continue. A shot at a maiden Grand Slam title awaits.

Awesome Andreeva becomes youngest Grand Slam semi-finalist since 1997

Mirra Andreeva is the first part of this equation and the one that will have all the hype despite her being the unseeded player out of the duo. The 17-year-old emerged last season onto the WTA Tour and since then has been a real shining light. Both in terms of her on court play. But also the personality she brings to the sport which was evidenced after defeating Aryna Sabalenka when she admitted that she didn't listen to coach Conchita Martinez and forgot what she said.
Whatever she listens to seems to be working though with Andreeva achieving her latest milestone and an incremental one at that. She has gone from reaching the Last 16 at every single Grand Slam to reaching a maiden Quarter-Final to now a semi-final all in the space of a week. This after similar to her opponent not really performing during the clay court season prior.
She had a fairly barren time of it being defeated quite easily by Paula Badosa in Rome after reaching the Quarter-Finals in Madrid. The latter saw her defeat Jasmine Paolini ironically and lose to Aryna Sabalenka whom she defeated in the Quarter-Finals to reach this point. Prior to that though, she was defeated fairly early in Rouen and also dealt with an injury around Indian Wells. So it hasn't been smooth sailing. But it is very much swapping no doubt the lack of smaller tournament success for continued Grand Slam excellence that is always on her radar.
Mirra Andreeva showing her shining star qualities in Paris.
Mirra Andreeva showing her shining star qualities in Paris.
She started the tournament by seeing off Emina Bektas 6-2, 6-3. Her only real test until the latter stages came against Victoria Azarenka. The Belarusian narrowly lost to Andreeva in a final set. But from there, she steamrollered Peyton Stearns. Not an easy feat given that the American won Rabat recently and has bene one of the most exciting players on tour alongside Andreeva over the past year. But a 6-2, 6-1 success for Andreeva to reach the fourth round was executed perfectly.
Varvara Gracheva was next in a 7-5, 6-2 win for Andreeva who admitted that the former Russian was a friend and practice partner. So likely one which slightly split the loyalties and also new territory. But she took herself into a tie with Aryna Sabalenka. Albeit one where in reality, she had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Sabalenka had been utterly imperious and not lost a set all tournament. This also featured her win over Mirra's older sister Erika Andreeva whom she thumped in the opening round. Teamed with the loss in Madrid, the worst would've been feared. But the nightmare in fact headed into Sabalenka's direction. She was unwell and suffering from a stomach bug. Albeit Andreeva still had to execute and seal the win, Sabalenka was severely hampered. She nearly called time on the match during the opening set gesturing towards her bench swiping across her neck. She won the tie-break which likely was the catalyst to continue, but by her own admission afterwards wasn't right.
She was drinking multiple cans of Coca Cola seemingly to help her gain some energy. But it didn't work as the teenage dream continued and Andreeva made sure that Sabalenka met her match. Currently she sits at a new career high of World No.23 next week. Even in winning the title though, she is unlikely to reach the top 10 with her next opponent instead set for a debut inside the higher echelons.

Perfect Paolini has year of her life

Jasmine Paolini is the second half of this semi-final. Truth betold, a player that always meddled around the top 50 in the world and never really produced what she perhaps was capable of. But this year has proven that there is an elite quality about the Italian.
At the age of 28, Paolini is into her first ever Grand Slam semi-final. She joins her compatriot Jannik Sinner who is also having the year of his life. Something in those Italian waters for sure and also she emulates her compatriots such as Martina Trevisan and Francesca Schiavone in reaching this point. As well as Sara Errani, her doubles partner.
It has been a long time coming for Paolini in terms of a break out. She broke into the top 50 in 2022 and sealed her first top 10 win upsetting Aryna Sabalenka at the Australian Open. Her 2023 season started slow, but she became Italian number one and reached the top 30. In particular in the latter half of the season, she reached the final of the Jasmin Open Monastir to end the year. This in turn opened up the floodgates so to speak for Paolini to surge from being a player who could pick up a few good results to a top table star.
She reached the fourth round of the Australian Open before being defeated by soon to be regular fixture in her life Anna Kalinskaya. She reached a new career high of World No.24 before smashing her way into the top 15 after taking down that same Russian in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Defeating Beatriz Haddad Maia, Leylah Fernandez and Maria Sakkari.
Jasmine Paolini (pictured) into the top 10 for the first time and thriving.
Jasmine Paolini (pictured) into the top 10 for the first time and thriving.
She also technically defeated Elena Rybakina through a walk-over. She won her first WTA 1000 title and despite her form being steady albeit unspectacular, she didn't drop from there. She reached the Quarter-Finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart being defeated by Elena Rybakina. But the signs were there that beating the Kazakh was in her. She reached the fourth round of Madrid and went into the French Open as a floater seed just outside the top 10.
With Rybakina in her section, Paolini was seen as the most likely contender to bookend a latter stage clash with her. This was proven as she saw off Daria Saville, Hailey Baptiste, the returning Bianca Andreescu and Elina Avanesyan. The latter two she had to come from a set behind or set back in either in two ties that could've easily gone the other way. But amid all the clamour for a Sabalenka v Rybakina semi-final, Paolini said Don't You Forget About Me in the words of Simple Minds.
She dumped out Rybakina 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals and now will debut in the top 10. Technically on paper, she should be the favourite for the semi-final given her ranking. But also it is uncharted territory for both. A real opportunity has presented itself and it is an exciting one for both top talents.
Ironically too their previous head to head contest was also a milestone for Andreeva in winning through. It was on her 17th birthday and was to seal her first WTA 1000 Quarter-Final. It is now her first Grand Slam semi-final. Written in the stars.

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