Swiatek defeats Muchova in three for third French Open title
The twenty-two-year-old prevailed 6-2, 5-7, 6-4
It was a first-time grand slam finalist versus the two-time French Open champion. Karolina Muchova from the Czech Republic reached a career high ranking of #19 in 2021 and is currently #43. The twenty-six-year-old continues to reascend the rankings having dropped to #235 ten months ago following a slew of injuries.
Despite winning just one WTA title, she has performed exceedingly well at the slams having reached the semis down under, the quarters twice at Wimbledon and the 4th round at the US Open. In Paris this fortnight, she eliminated the 8th seed Maria Sakkari in the opening round and the 27th seed Irina Camelia Begu in the third.
Two points from defeat in the semis, she saved a match point and battled to eliminate the reigning Australian Open champion and world #2, Aryna Sabalenka 7-6, 6-7, 7-5 to reach her maiden grand slam final. She was 5-0 heading into this match versus top-3 players and posted a 25-7 win/loss record for the season.
Standing in her way was the two-time and defending French Open champion, Iga Swiatek. The world #1 who recently turned twenty-two, is the youngest player since Monica Seles (1990-1992) to reach three finals at Roland Garros. With a 34-6 win/loss record for the season and a 27-2 record at the French, Swiatek posed an arduous challenge.
(AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
The Polish prodigy dispatched her last two opponents – the 6th seed Coco Gauff and the 14th seed and lefty, Beatriz Haddad Maia – in straights. Muchova led the head-to-head 1-0, victorious on the dirt in 2019 in Prague.
Swiatek served first and with a spectacular inside-in forehand, held to 30 while Muchova gifted three consecutive unforced errors and dumped serve.
Swiatek made 3/4 first serves and consolidated the break at love to lead 3-0. Muchova netted a forehand after a 14-shot rally to open the fourth but with an ace out wide and a winning lob, got on the board.
The world #1 donated three unforced errors and faced four deuce and break point yet battled to hold for 4-1. Muchova opened the 6th with her second ace but faced two deuce and break point before holding with two consecutive winners. Swiatek held to 30 for 5-2 despite leading 40-0 and secured the set when Muchova donated three backhand errors to drop serve.
Swiatek served first in the second and held to 30 for 1-0 while Muchova committed four consecutive errors to dump serve. The defending champion opened the third with a brilliant backhand down the line pass and consolidated the break for 3-0 when her opponent’s slice backhand sailed long.
Muchova determined to change the complexion of the match, struck three winners, and held to 30 for 1-3.
Swiatek donated two consecutive forehand errors and though she followed with two consecutive forehand winners, faced break point, and dropped serve when Muchova ripped a forehand down the line.
The Czech with a monster serve up the tee, consolidated the break for 3-3 while Swiatek made 3/4 first serves and held at love for 4-3 with a fantastic backhand down the line.
Muchova opened the 8th with two consecutive winners and held to 30 for 4-4 when Swiatek netted a backhand. The world #1 serving with new balls, committed three unforced errors including her first double fault and dumped serve.
The enthusiastic crowd in Court Philippe Chatrier hungry for a deciding set, urged on the underdog. Muchova seemed to succumb to the pressure, missing 5/5 first serves and donating four unforced errors to give back the break.
Level at 5-5, Swiatek donated three consecutive errors – two off the forehand – and regifted the break. Muchova serving for the set struck her third ace and though she faced two deuce points, converted her third set point when Swiatek missed the return.
While there were plenty of extended rallies, the most thrilling points occurred when both came to net. Swiatek served first in the decider and with three unforced errors including a double fault, dumped serve. Muchova opened with an extraordinary forehand down the line and with two consecutive aces, consolidated the break at love for 2-0.
The crowd sensing the upset was in play, held its breath as Swiatek stepped to the line to serve. The reigning US Open champion held easily to 15 for 1-2 while Muchova faced triple break point and dropped serve after netting a makeable forehand.
Swiatek hit two consecutive winners including her first ace and consolidated the break at love to level. Muchova missed 3/5 first serves yet held easily to 15 for 3-2 while Swiatek donated her third double fault and dropped serve after mishitting a crosscourt forehand.
Muchova despite hitting another ace, was unable to solidify her grip on the match. Serving for 5-3 she faced deuce and gave back the break when she netted a poorly executed drop shot. Swiatek level at 4-4, faced deuce and break point yet managed to hold following two consecutive netted returns.
Muchova serving to stay in the match down 4-5 committed four unforced errors including a double fault to concede the match. It was an extremely unfortunate ending to an entertaining and enthralling grand slam final.
Swiatek accomplished the mission despite not playing her best. She did not serve especially well winning just 62% of first and 57% of second serve points. She was more effective when returning, winning 48% of first and 54% of second serve return points and saved 2/7 break points while converting 7/11. She hit 11 fewer winners (19/30) 5 fewer aces (1/6) but gifted 11 less errors and won 15 more points.
Iga Swiatek a three-time French Open champion proved her mettle when it most mattered and now in the city of lights is breathing rarefied air. Only three players in the Open era have won more titles at Roland Garros: Justine Henin (4), Steffi Graf (6) and Chris Evert (7). At just twenty-two years of age, the four-time grand slam champion appears destined to break that record along with a host of others.
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