Playing the second Grand Slam semifinal in her career, Czech world No.43 Karolina Muchova upset reigning Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka and advanced to the championship match at Roland Garros, 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 7-5.
The opening set, lasting an intense 72 minutes, was a gripping display of skill and determination. Both players held serve, keeping the tension high until the score reached 4-4. At this critical juncture, Muchova seized an opportunity and secured the first break of the set. Adding to the drama, the Adidas-clad player even held a set point on her own serve, only to falter under pressure.
It seemed like Sabalenka would capitalize on Muchova’s disappointment, but the set pushed forward into an exhilarating tiebreak. Despite Sabalenka’s valiant effort to recover from a 0-3 deficit and level the score at 4-4, it was Muchova who proved resilient. In a pivotal moment, she earned her second set point and seized the opportunity, ultimately claiming a crucial one-set lead against the Belarusian.
In the second set, the unseeded Muchova made a strong statement, securing an early 2-0 advantage. However, Sabalenka swiftly retaliated, breaking Muchova’s serve and then managing another break to take a commanding 4-3 lead. Just when it seemed like the momentum was shifting, Muchova displayed her resilience by breaking back, leveling the score at 4-4.
With the set hanging in the balance, Muchova held her serve with conviction, propelling herself to a 5-4 lead. Undeterred, Sabalenka responded with a determined hold of her own, knotting the score at 5-5 and intensifying the gripping battle on the court. Once again we had a tiebreak and this time it was Sabalenka who narrowly claimed the upper hand.
Early in the third set, Muchova unleashed her aggressive game, attacking the lines with precision to extricate herself from a 0-40 deficit. With her back against the wall, she showcased her resilience by saving four break points and ultimately holding her serve to level the score at 1-1. The second-seeded Sabalenka fought fiercely, securing three consecutive games and even finding herself with a match point at 5-2.
However, Muchova exhibited her unwavering resolve, prolonging the match by holding her serve in that crucial game, refusing to concede defeat. The Czech eventually won five consecutive games, victoriously finishing the big match in her career with a love hold and ending it with a perfect 100% break point conversion rate (5/5).
Muchova’s opponent in Saturday’s French Open final will be defending champion Iga Swiatek, who battled past first-time Grand Slam semifinalist Beatriz Haddad Maia.