Semifinal Friday has already been a banner day in women’s tennis at the 2023 French Open.
While many expected Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, the 2023 Australian Open champion and No. 2 player in the world, to defeat Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova, that is not how the match turned out.
Muchova won a three-set thriller in over three hours.
To her credit, she did not look nervous and started strong.
It was a tight first-set tiebreaker that she ultimately won.
She had more unforced errors in the second set, and Sabalenka picked up her game.
But she hung around and played well enough to stay in it, Muchova was three points away from a straight-set victory.
As soon as it went to a third set, Sabalenka emerged as the favorite.
She has big match experience and fitness, and there were times when Muchova was shaking out her legs and looking cramped, injured, and exhausted.
No One Could Predict The Ending
Karolina Muchova won this match. pic.twitter.com/PQMzgMVWsH
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) June 8, 2023
Sabalenka was up 5-2, 30-love, had a match point, and lost five straight games to drop the final set 7-5.
She lost 20 of the final 24 points in the match, mixing in forehand errors and double faults.
It was a very unusual Sabalenka performance who has emerged a lot calmer and more confident in the past year.
A long physical and mental battle ended with Machova shaking her head in disbelief and surprise.
How Muchova Was Successful
In the early stages of the match, she played cleaner, used the backhand slice ala Ashleigh Barty, and seemed to be in a groove.
Muchova also took as many opportunities as possible to get to the net and won often in those rallies.
In the third set, perhaps because of exhaustion, she was not as accurate or up at the net as much, but she played well enough to win amid a Sabalenka breakdown.
Sabalenka had not dropped a set in any of her previous rounds; Sloane Stephens was the only one that gave her a bit of a challenge in the second set of their match.
Perhaps that was a factor or maybe it was just a function of a slightly off day that her opponent took advantage of.
Muchova will face the winner of the Iga Swiatek vs. Beatriz Haddad Maia semifinal match on Saturday.
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