French Open: Karolina Muchova stuns Aryna Sabalenka to set up final against Iga Swiatek

Karolina Muchova battled cramps and saved a match point to reach the French Open final with a thrilling three-set win over world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus on Thursday but for the Czech adversities are nothing new.

Muchova, plagued by injuries in her career, delivered a masterclass of all-round tennis that stifled her opponent's power from the baseline to win 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 7-5 after saving a match point at 5-2 down in the third set.

The unseeded 26-year-old, who tumbled down the rankings into the mid-200s after her injury-hit 2021 season before climbing back into the top 50, then rattled off the next five games to reach her first Grand Slam final.

Iga Swiatek celebrates her win over Beatriz Haddad Maia.
Iga Swiatek celebrates her win over Beatriz Haddad Maia. Photo credit: Getty Images

Muchova retired injured in the third round in Paris last year but has never lost to a player ranked in the top three in her career with her record now standing at 5-0.

She will play top seed Iga Swiatek in Sunday's final, after the defending champion ousted Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2 7-6(7).

"Facing a match point, I was on a serve and I was focusing honestly on another point and try to put a great serve, and that worked," Muchova said.

"So I didn't really think of it much like to put any pressure like that's a match point, just another point."

"I just tried to focus on my serve. I think I served well, and it kind of helped me to win this point."

Muchova, however, had done the heavy lifting in the previous sets, with her sliced backhand negating Sabalenka's notorious power and forcing her tall opponent to the net with drop shots.

Swiatek felt the heat, as she booked a French Open final spot for the third time in four years with her win over Haddad Maia.

The world No. 1 found it tough going during the second set but when it came to the tiebreak, she produced her full array of shots to outwit Haddad Maia and set up a showdown Muchova.

Swiatek, who lifted the Suzanne Lenglen Cup last year and in 2020, will retain top spot in the WTA rankings after Sabalenka was knocked out earlier.

As fans waved a Polish 'Poland Garros' flag in stands that were half empty when the match started, Swiatek showed rare signs of frustrations but managed to hold it together when it mattered to prevail as the clock hit the 9pm mark.

The 14th seeded Haddad Maia, whose career has been hampered by multiple injuries and 10-month doping ban in 2019-20, had played four consecutive three-set matches to fight her way to the semi-finals but she finally met her match in Swiatek. 


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