Tennis tournament French Open, June 8, 2023, Paris. Czech tennis player Karolína Muchová.
Paris – Karolína Muchová averted a match point against world number two Aryna Sabalenkova from Belarus at Roland Garros. The Czech tennis player won a dramatic match on the Paris clay after three hours and 17 minutes. In the fight for the premier title, she will challenge world number one Iga Šwiateková on Saturday. The Polish defending champion beat Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia 6:2, 7:6.
“Thank you all so much,” Much said in an on-court interview after receiving a replacement microphone. “I don't even know what actually happened. There was a great atmosphere and fans who pushed me. It's unbelievable. I tried to keep fighting and it worked. I'm very happy,” she added to the applause of her parents in the audience.
The 26-year-old from Olomouc can become the next Czech winner of the Paris tournament two years after Barbora Krejčíková. The last Grand Slam finalist was Karolína Plíšková two years ago at Wimbledon.
In addition to Krejčíková, Hana Mandlíková also won the singles at Roland Garros in 1981. Martina Navrátilová also won twice, but she represented the USA in 1982 and 1984. “It's easy to play in this beautiful stadium and with such fans. I go to get a towel and I hear the fans cheering me on or shouting my name. It's a great feeling,” added Muchová.
January Australian Open winner Sabalenkova lost only the sixth out of 40 matches this year and will not add the second Grand Slam title of the season. She paid for 53 unforced errors, Muchová had 26 fewer. The Czech played 37 winning balls, Sabalenková 44.
Muchová was 100 percent using break points (5/5) and once again impressed with her creative play. “I've heard people say that about me, but I don't want to let it go to my head. I'm trying to play my game, we're working on it and I'm glad it's working. I also thank my team. We're all here together, so it's our joint success,” noted Muchová.
Coach Emil Miške's protege kept pace with the favorite from the start. She avoided two break points in the fourth game. With the score at 4:4, Muchová broke the opponent's serve, but immediately did not use the set point, did not serve the set and it was decided in a shortened game. In it, the Czech tennis player led 3:0. Although Sabalenková turned it around to 5:4, the member of the 1st ČLTK Prague nevertheless kept her cool and, thanks to three successful balls in a row, controlled the tie-break 7:5. Sabalenkova lost a set for the first time in the tournament.
The even battle continued. Muchová took the lead 2:0, but Sabalenková turned it around to 4:3. The 43rd player in the world was also able to react, equalized and once again led the duel to a shortened game. In it, Sabalenková turned from 1:2 to 4:2 and had two set points. She didn't use the first one and made a double fault, but during Muchová's service she pushed the Czech into a defensive position and tied it after a hard smash.
In the beginning of the decisive set, Muchová withstood the first critical moments, as she averted four break points at 0:1. Sabalenková often jeered loudly, even covering her face with a towel during a break. Nevertheless, thanks to a break in the sixth game, she took a 5-2 lead. In that state, she also had a match point during Muchová's service.
However, the Czech turned it away and staged a brilliant turn. In the dramatic ending, she broke the Belarusian's serve twice, won a total of five games in a row, and the visibly shaken Sabalenko arrived on serve with a clean game. After the match point, she raised her hands above her head in happiness.
Muchová became only the third Roland Garros finalist, after the Latvian Jelena Ostapenko (2017) and Šwiateková (2020), who figures outside the top forty of the world rankings. Both players then won the tournament.
Šwiateková also managed the sixth match of this year without losing a set, but this time she had to fight for more than two hours against the fourteenth seed. By progressing to the finals, the Polish woman secured first place in the world rankings, which she has held for 62 weeks in a row. Despite her defeat, Sabalenková could dethrone her from the tennis throne if Šwiateková crashed in the semi-finals.
The 22-year-old native of Warsaw will be attacking the Paris clay for a third title after last year's success and the premier triumph in 2020. In total, she can extend her collection of Grand Slam trophies to four, she also won the US Open last year. He now has a record of 60 wins and 13 defeats in the big four tournaments. Serena Williams also had the same record after 73 matches played.
Haddad Maia was the first Brazilian among the elite four in Paris in the so-called open era, i.e. since 1968. Until last week, the twenty-seven-year-old tennis player was no further than in the second round.
Japan's Miju Kató and Tim Pütz from Germany won the mixed doubles title. In the final, they beat Michael Venus from New Zealand and Bianca Andreescu from Canada 4:6, 6:4, 10:6.
For both Kató and Pütz, this is a lifetime achievement. The 28-year-old Japanese woman got a taste of herself in Paris after she was disqualified from the women's doubles last week and lost ranking points and a bonus of 21,500 euros (half a million crowns).
Kató was expelled by the referee for the fact that during the third round match alongside Aldila Sutjiadiová from Indonesia against the Czech-Spanish duo Maria Bouzková, Sara Sorribesová inadvertently hit one of the servers with the ball during an interrupted game.
“Coping with the disqualification was mentally very demanding. That's why I thank everyone who wrote to me and supported me. I used the positive energy to be able to stand here today,” said Katóová.
“I want to say to Sara, Maria and Aldila that maybe we will meet again on the court and play a great match. The disqualification was unfortunate, but I believe that I will succeed with the appeal and get my points and money back,” added the Japanese woman, who was also supported by the independent players' union the PTPA association led by the winner of 22 Grand Slams, Novak Djokovic.
At the Grand Slams, Katóová has reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open 2017 in doubles, and has three doubles titles to her credit. The 35-year-old Pütz, who, like the Japanese woman, did not win a singles tournament, triumphed seven times in doubles on the ATP circuit, his highest in the big four tournaments being the quarterfinals.
French Open tennis tournament in Paris
(clay, subsidy 49.6 million euros):
Singles – semi-finals:
Muchová (Czech Republic) – Sabalenková (2-Běl.) 7:6 (7:5), 6:7 (5:7 ), 7:5, Šwiateková (1-Pol.) – Haddadová Maiaová (14-Braz.) 6:2, 7:6 (9:7).
Foursomes – semi-finals:
Dodig, Krajicek (4-Croatia/USA) – Granollers, Zeballos (10-Sp./Arg.) 6:3, 7:6 (7:3), Gille, Vliegen (Belg.) – Middelkoop, Mies (12-Netherlands/Germany) 6:4, 7:5.
Mixed doubles – final:
Pütz, Katóová (German/Japan) – Venus, Andreescu (N.Zel./Can.) 4:6, 6:4, 10: 6.
Four game – quarter-finals:
Hrazdil, Camus (Czech Republic/Aust.) – Barbier Gazeu, Radjenovič (Fr./Serb.) 6:3, 2:6, 11:9, Sciahbasi, Vulpitta (It.) – Mrva, Bondioli (5-CZ/It.) 6:3, 6:2.
Quads – quarterfinals:
Grant, Ngounoue (6-USA) – Kovačková, Samson (Czech Republic) 6:0, 3:6, 10:8.