Europe 1 with AFP / photo credit: MUSTAFA YALCIN / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP 19:22 pm, June 08, 2023Czech Karolina Muchova, ranked 43rd in the world, threw out a match point Thursday against Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka, world No. 2, and qualified (7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (5/7), 7-5) at Roland Garros for her first Grand Slam final. She will face the winner of the second semifinal between Iga Swiatek and Beatriz Haddad Maia.
Karolina Muchova, 26, defeated Aryna Sabalenka after more than three hours of duelling. In the final of Roland-Garros on Saturday, she will face either the world number 1 Iga Swiatek, or the unexpected Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia (14th), opposed in the second semifinal. Muchova, a first-time Grand Slam semifinalist at the Australian Open in 2021, had never made it past the third round on the Parisian clay before the 2023 edition.
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Sabalenka served for the match win
After two ultra-contested first sets and concluded in the decisive game, the first in favor of Muchova, the second of Sabalenka, the world number 2 widened the gap 5 games to 2 in the third set and even came within one point of victory, when she led 30-40 on the serve of her Czech opponent in the next game. But Muchova dismissed that match ball with a winning forehand, came back to make it 5-3, broke when Sabalenka served for the match win, and tied it at 5-5. Then, taking advantage of two consecutive double faults from the powerful Belarusian, she once again seized her commitment and did not tremble at the time of conclusion.
"I'm not sure what happened!"
"I don't really know what happened!" said Muchova moments after her victory. "I just kept fighting and it worked!" Between Sabalenka's power and Muchava's variations and forays into the net, the first semi-final of the women's draw offered a remarkable opposition of styles. Falling to world number 8 Maria Sakkari in the first round, the Czech is already assured of a place in the top 20 on Monday.
Even eliminated, Sabalenka still has a chance to become world number 1 at the end of the Parisian fortnight, if Swiatek, outgoing champion, does not qualify for the final later in the day.