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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Wednesday, June 5, 2024
Photo credit: Corleve/Mark Peterson

Jasmine Paolini doesn't shrink from major challenges.

The 5'4" Paolini never surpassed the second round of a Grand Slam before the start of the season.

Jazz Rocks: Paolini Shocks Rybakina

Tomorrow, Paolini will play Mirra Andreeva for a spot in the Roland Garros final.

The 12th-seeded Paolini stunned world No. 4 Elena Rybakina 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to fight into her first career Grand Slam semifinal in her 18th major appearance.

Afterward, Paolini shared her one wish: To be taller.

"I wish I was taller, because I could serve better," Paolini said. "But I think, you know, I accept that I have to do with my own body. I mean, I'm short. Okay, we try to don't make it a problem, you know, we try to do something different to improve other aspect, like serve.

"I mean, I wish I was taller, but it's okay, but I'm not."

Though she's one of the shorter players in the Top 20, Paolini applied her speed and accuracy to back up her serve today. Paolini did not drop a point on her second serve until the second set, about 44 minutes into the match.

The victory vaults Paolini to a career-high ranking of No. 10.

Now, the pressure ratchets up as she faces talented teenager Andreeva, who edged Paolini 7-6(2), 6-4 in the Mutua Madrid Open round of 16 last month.

"With Mirra, it's going to be a tough match," Paolini said. "I played against her in Madrid, and she's really great player, I think. She's so young but she's so, so good mentally, and she can defend very well. She can serve well.

"It's going to be a tough match, but we are in the semifinal, so there is no chance to get easy matches."

The 28-year-old Paolini returned to court partnering Sara Errani to victory that sends them into the doubles semifinal. Andreeva withdrew from her scheduled doubles match alongside former world No. 2 Vera Zvonareva in order to rest and recover for tomorrow's singles semifinal.

"I decide to play doubles here," Paolini said. "For me, it's as important as singles, because if you enter in a competition, in my opinion, you have to finish.

"But, you know, that's my decision. I understand the other side. I don't want to criticize anyone. But for myself was important to step on court and to try to win also the quarterfinals in doubles."

Photo credit: Corleve/Mark Peterson