And with it, the world No. 1 once again got the better of Karolina Muchova over three sets in a Roland Garros final rematch on Thursday at the WTA 1000 event
By now, we know what we’re going to get when Iga Swiatek and Karolina Muchova face off.
They’re going to split the first two sets. Muchova is going to try to disrupt Swiatek’s topspin forehand with her slice backhand. Swiatek is going to try to blow the top off of Muchova’s second serve. And somebody is going to win 6-4 in the third set. The first time they played, in 2019, it was Muchova. The second time they played, in the Roland Garros final earlier this year, it was Swiatek. The third time, on Thursday night in Montreal, it was Swiatek again, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.
“We’ve played this match, like, three times,” Swiatek said with a smile afterward.
There were some peculiarities about this one, though. The most obvious is that it took roughly nine hours from start to finish. The Pole and the Czech arrived on court at 12:30 p.m., and shook hand around 9:30. In between, there were two rain delays that ate up more than six hours. Swiatek being Swiatek, though, she took it as a chance to have a brand new experience. She’d never had to wait that long to play before.
“It was an extraordinary day,” she said. “I wanted to use the opportunity to learn something new.”
The way Swiatek won this match was also different from her norm. Typically, her diving, penetrating one-two ground stroke punch leads the way. But she didn’t have that tonight. She hit 37 winners, but made 53 errors. Many came from the forehand side. Muchova forced Swiatek to get down low with her slice backhand, and she rushed her with her crosscourt forehand. For much of the second set, which she lost, Swiatek would play one game brilliantly, and the next horribly.
But this time she had backup. I don’t normally think of her serve and return as her core weapons. But they were against Muchova. Swiatek made 70 percent of her first serves, and hit seven aces; five of them came came in the deciding set, and three on break points. Her slider-out wide in the deuce court and down the T in the ad court-has rarely been more effective. Even better was her return. In a Djokovic-esque performance, she jumped on many of Muchova’s best first serves and rifled them either back at her feet or up the line for in-your-face winners. One of those winners came at break point in the opening game of the third set. From there, Swiatek held five straight times for the win.
“It wasn’t easy,” Swiatek said, echoing her fellow No. 1, Carlos Alcaraz, from the night before. “You have to find energy.”
Swiatek moves on to play Danielle Collins, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Canadian Leylah Fernandez. She knows now that she can win without her best from the ground. And, just in case, God forbid, she ever needs to do it again, she knows she can win a nine-hour match. –Tennis.com