Swiatek advanced to the final at the expense of Brazil's Beatriz Haddad (14th) 6-2, 7-6 (9/7), but not before facing a set ball in the deciding game of the second set.
Previously, after almost 3h13 minutes of duel and opposition of styles, between her power and the variations of Muchova, Sabalenka had ended up folding 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, not without having had a match ball at 5 games to 2, on the service of the Czech.
Swiatek's qualification for the final combined with Sabalenka's defeat ensures the 22-year-old Pole remains world No. 1 on Monday.
For the 25-year-old Belarusian, it is also a Roland-Garros during which she will have been pressed with political questions, her position in relation to the invasion of Ukraine and her links with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, an ally of Russia, which is closing.
Swiatek received 3/3
The "ole, ole, ole, ola, Bia, Bia" launched by the yellow and green spots scattered in the stands of the Philippe-Chatrier court, in the colors of the Brazilian flag, not so numerous but very sonorous, were not enough to reverse the logic.
Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia stopped in the semifinals at Roland Garros, June 8, 2023 © JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP
Haddad, the first Brazilian to be invited to the last four of Roland-Garros in the Open era (since 1968), at 27 years old, is nevertheless, and by far, the player who has given Swiatek the most trouble since the beginning of the Parisian fortnight. Even if the world N.1 will reach the final on Saturday without having dropped a set.
For now, Swiatek's record is impeccable in major finals: three titles in as many finals. In addition to Roland-Garros 2022, she won for the first time on the Parisian clay in 2020 and at the US Open in 2022.
On the other side of the net, it will not be Sabalenka, but the unexpected Karolina Muchova, 26 years old and 43rd in the world.
Iga Swiatek already crowned at Roland Garros, October 10, 2020 © MARTIN BUREAU / AFP/Archives
After discarding the Belarusian match ball with a winning forehand, the Czech won her game and the next four, and thus the match, which had started with two ultra-contested first sets and concluded in the decisive game.
"I don't really know what happened!" said Muchova moments after her victory. I just kept fighting and it worked!"
Muchova in tears a year ago
Muchova thus finds the smile at Roland-Garros, which she had left in tears a year ago, after her abandonment in the third round (against Anisimova), caught once again by physical problems, in this case touched an ankle. Before that, a long-term abdominal injury had kept her away from competition for seven months, between the 2021 US Open and the Miami tournament in 2022.
"I've had tough times in the past, so I just enjoy this moment anymore," she said. To be in the final of a Grand Slam, it was a dream."
"When I missed the Australian Open in 2022, I was really bad in terms of health. The doctors told me I might not do sports again," she says. But I've always stayed positive, I've always worked to come back."
Semi-finalist for the first time in Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2021, and climbed into the top 20 (19th) in May of the same year, Muchova had plunged outside the top 150 at the end of 2022. Two quarter-finals in WTA 1000 (Dubai and Indian Wells), in particular, allowed him to return to the top 50 before Roland-Garros.
Czech Karolina Muchova victorious over Aryna Sabalenka at Roland Garros, June 8, 2023 © Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP
Falling to world No. 8 Maria Sakkari, before making her way to the final, Muchova is already assured of jumping Monday at the gates of the top 15, her best ranking.
Meanwhile, she becomes the fourth lowest-ranked player to reach the final in the history of the Paris tournament, after Swiatek (54th in 2020), Jelena Ostapenko (47th in 2017) and Renata Tomanova (47th in 1976).
© 2023 AFP