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An unbelievable year that has been for Jasmine Paolini

Storm Sanders was Australia’s hero after she won the first singles rubber before returning for the deciding doubles match alongside 38-year-old Samantha Stosur.

Italy’s Jasmine Paolini returns against USA’s Emma Navarro during their women’s singles quarterfinals on the ninth day of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 9, 2024.
| Photo Credit: AFP

Homogenisation of courts is no longer disputed in tennis. The Roland-Garros clay is not as slow as it used to be, and the Wimbledon grass not as fast as it once was. Yet, runs to the business end at both tournaments separated by just three weeks is one of the toughest achievements.

In 2024, Jasmine Paolini has managed this feat in women’s singles, finishing runner-up in Paris to Iga Swiatek four weeks ago and reaching the last four at SW19 on Tuesday with a 6-2, 6-1 thrashing of American Emma Navarro.

“I’m feeling great, and I think I played a really good match,” said the 28-year-old after beating Navarro. “No mistakes. It was really perfect. Really nice to be in the semifinal here.”

Curiously, grass has never been the Italian’s preferred surface. She has only played 24 times on the lawns and lost 13 of those. Of the 11 wins, eight have come in the last fortnight, at Eastbourne and Wimbledon.

“Maybe I didn’t realise it before, but my coach was telling me that I could play well here,” Paolini said. “Also, the last two years I played against [Petra] Kvitova (two-time Wimbledon champion) first round, so it was tough.

“But I have felt great. I am hitting and moving well. I was repeating to myself, ‘okay, it’s nice to play on grass. You can play well.’ But I didn’t expect the semifinals at all.”

This whole year has been of the unbelievable kind for Paolini. Prior to 2024, she had won just five singles matches at the Majors. At the first three Slams in 2024, she has 13 victories, a run that is set to propel her into the WTA top-5. A victory over Donna Vekic in the last-four on Thursday will send her into stratosphere.

“She serves really well, and she’s fighting for every ball, but I’m fighting too,” said Paolini on meeting Vekic. “My forehand is working well in this tournament and I hope it’s…

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