Sunday September 24, 2023

Muchova shocks Sabalenka to reach final

June 09, 2023

Paris: Unheralded Karolina Muchova saved a match point as she stunned world number two Aryna Sabalenka to reach the French Open final on Thursday. The 43rd-ranked Muchova will play her first Grand Slam final after knocking out Australian Open champion Sabalenka 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, ending the Belarusian´s 12-match winning run at majors.

She will meet either top-ranked Swiatek, the 2020 and 2022 French Open winner, or Brazil´s Beatriz Haddad Maia on Saturday after overturning a 5-2 deficit in the final set to topple Sabalenka. "I don´t really know what happened. It´s unbelievable, I tried to keep fighting and it worked. I´m so happy," said Muchova.

She added Sabalenka to an impressive list of victims in Paris which included eighth seed Maria Sakkari in the first round and 2021 runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarter-final. Only three women ranked lower than Muchova have made the final before in Paris, including the then-teenaged Swiatek who was 54th when she claimed her maiden Grand Slam title in 2020. Muchova saved two break points in the fourth game of the opener and then broke Sabalenka at 4-4 to leave herself serving for the set. Sabalenka saved a set point as she broke back and then moved 5-4 ahead in the tie-break, but Muchova stood firm and the Czech seized her second chance by ripping a superb backhand down the line.

Muchova broke for a 2-0 lead in the second set only for Sabalenka to reply right away. The second seed nudged in front with a break for 4-3 but this time Muchova was quick to level. Sabalenka took charge in another tie-break and conjured two set points, double faulting on the first but converting the second with a powerful overhead.Suddenly the momentum was with Sabalenka who broke for 4-2 in the decider after seeing four break points come and go in the second game.