Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Muchova to play Roland Garros final against Swiatek

Karolina Muchova was an unexpected semifinalist at the French Open and therefore an underdog. In fact, it’s not even a seed in the competition.

And after dealing with calf cramps for nearly three hours, she was one point away from losing to Aryna Sabalenka (second seed), who entered Thursday 12-0 at Grand Slam tournaments in 2023, including an Australian Open title Included.

Somehow, Muchova managed to get out of the tough situation, winning the last five games against an unheralded opponent and winning 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-5 at Roland Garros to reach her first final in the tournament. Arrived in In which he least expected.

“It was a roller coaster,” Muchova said.

On Saturday, she will face defending Roland Garros champion and top-ranked Iga Swiatek, who beat Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2, 7-6(7) on the night. Swiatek is seeking his third title and fourth major tournament championship in Paris. Her semifinal victory ensures that the 22-year-old Pole remains at the top of the WTA rankings.

Muchova, ranked 43rd, is the fourth lowest ranked player in history to reach the final of the French Open. On the other hand, he is now 5-0 in his career against players in the top 3 in the world.

It was hard to decide what was the bigger surprise, Sabalenka’s defeat or how she lost.

Muchova said, “I just tried to fight and it worked. “I really don’t know what happened.”

Sabalenka, who won the Australian Open in January, led 5-2 in the third set to come within a point of clinching the semifinals in a duel that lasted more than three hours, but then fell, 24 of 24 in the home stretch. Lost 20 points.

In heat of around 27°C on the Philippe Chatrier court, Muchova’s range of shots and sweeping court style provided her the right mix against one of the most powerful on tour.

An oversimplification, of course, but you have to think of it this way: Sabalenka looks to hit the ball close to her opponent; While Muchova tries to take the ball away from his opponent.

The third set looked loaded in favor of Sabalenka, who came into the match 12–0 in Grand Slam games in 2023, when her pressure caused unforced errors. A long forehand by Muchova resulted in a break of serve and a 4–2 lead for Sabalenka, who held her serve to make it 5–2.

Then everything started falling apart.

Sabalenka only needed a point at 5–2, but Muchova responded with a forehand winner to finish off the chance and hold on in the end. Sabalenka came to serve for the game, but she could not close it out and Muchova broke her serve to lead 5–4. On the next court change, Muchova sat down and massaged her right thigh. Suddenly the game got a five of a kind.

Sabalenka kept fighting and Muchova, who was still stretching between points, landed some great shots.

The 26-year-old Muchova from the Czech Republic has always known her game works best in fast-paced conditions: Her previous best result at a major tournament was a semi-final in Australia on hard courts. Her only WTA title has been on hard courts and she has never made it past the third round on clay at Roland Garros.

Swetek didn’t get off to a particularly good start on Thursday. He suffered a break at zero in the first game.

However, he quickly reversed the position and took the set. In the second, lefty Haddad Maia took a 3–1 lead before Swett again held serve.

In the tiebreaker, Haddad Maia had a set point at 6–5 but dropped a ball into the net. A moment later, the duel ended. Swiatek improved to a 60–13 record in Grand Slam tournaments, the same record that was held by Serena Williams after 73 matches.

“It was tense at times. I’m very happy to show myself really solid and get resolved in the tiebreaker,” said Swiatek. “It wasn’t easy”.

World Nation News Desk
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