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Chatting With Jasmine Paolini: Get To Know Italy's Newest Star
3 Min Read · March 11, 2024

Jannik Sinner isn’t the only Italian riding a winning streak at the BNP Paribas Open. Jasmine Paolini extended her own run to eight matches Sunday after beating Anna Kalinskaya.

Paolini prevailed 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 before the pair hugged at the net, having faced off in the final as part of a career-changing week at the Dubai 1000 late last month.

Paolini, 5-foot-4 inches of energy, won that match, too, to enter Indian Wells at a career-high No. 14 in the rankings.

For a spot in the quarterfinals, Paolini will have to beat Anastasia Potapova. caught up with Paolini to discuss her results, family, growing up in Tuscany and…food. Just before our interview, the 28-year-old smiled and laughed as she chatted with a trio of Italian reporters.

[The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity]

Jasmine, have you always been this bubbly? How much does it run in the family?

Yes, I think my mom is like this. She’s smiling a lot and it’s part of me. I’m smiling always. I really like this part of myself.

Your mom is of Polish and Ghanaian descent. What Polish and Ghanaian traits do you think you have?

Ghanaian, maybe I feel like I’m fast on court. And I think that part of my family helped me. Maybe from Poland, I have the determination, maybe. But of course I also have the Italian energy (laughs). It’s a mix. And I’m really proud of it.

What has it been like since winning your biggest title in Dubai?

I’m the same person. I feel nothing changed, but of course a little bit changed because people are stopping me and saying, ‘Well played in Dubai, congratulations, I’m your fan,’ and that’s nice. It’s something new for me.

How comfortable are you being more in the spotlight?

It’s something different. But I like it. It’s nice to have people that like you, how you play, how you are on court. People are saying I have good energy. I’m enjoying it.

Your coach, Renzo Furlan, reached No. 19 in the world. Did you ever chat about you potentially getting higher than him in the rankings?

I never said that but I was thinking, ‘Come on, I have to do better (smiles).’ And he was so happy that I managed to be better than him in the rankings. He was joking in Dubai when a journalist asked him, ‘How does it feel that she passed you?’ He was like, ‘I’m really sad. No, I’m joking, I’m really happy.’

I think we are a good team. We have already been together seven years. I really love the relationship we have, and we feel good. We are relaxed people so I’m really enjoying it, without any pressure. Of course, he gets mad sometimes (laughs) because of maybe some of my choices on court, but it’s okay. We try to keep improving and improving. 

How have you refocused for Indian Wells after winning your first WTA 1000?

I think I’m focusing on the work that I have to do on the court and the choices I have to do every point and just living in the present, not thinking about any result in the past. Just trying to do better every day. ‘Trying,’ because it’s not easy. We’re playing at such a high level. This is one of the biggest tournaments.”

You have a habit of making the third round here and are now into round four. Why so much success?

This is Tennis Paradise (laughs). This is an unbelievable tournament. It’s the first WTA 1000 that I won two matches in, and I really love it. The courts are slow. I love the city. It’s relaxing a little bit more, instead of other tournaments in the big cities. We have the car. Our own car. We can drive, we can go around. The hotel is so close, so it’s a bit different. (A few days ago) it was raining, but usually it’s hot.

You reached the Billie Jean King Cup final last season under captain Tathiana Garbin, who later announced she had cancer. 

I think how she managed to (fight) this past five months, it’s something unbelievable. The courage, the strength. Now she’s feeling good and that’s the most important thing. We keep in touch always after the matches. It’s nice to have courageous and positive people around me and she’s one of those.

You grew up in a Tuscan village, Bagni di Lucca. What was that like?

I spent the first 14 years of my life there. I have beautiful memories. It’s really relaxed. There is a river, a very nice river and you can go to the mountains. You can play tennis because there is a small tennis (club) there. I was enjoying a calm life when I was a child. Also the tennis club was small so I could enjoy without any limitations.”

Let’s talk food. Pizza or pasta?

(Big laugh) Pizza.

What pasta would it be, if you had to choose one? 

I love spaghetti alle vongole (clams). It’s one of my favorites.

And how about one food you will never eat?

Cilantro, coriander. When I go to restaurants, I ask for no cilantro, no coriander, because I cannot eat it. I don’t know why. Usually I can eat everything but when coriander is on the plate, I cannot eat it!

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