The women’s final of Roland-Garros 2023 between the Polish Iga Swiatek, defending champion, and the Czech Karolina Muchova (43rd) will be played on Saturday at 3:00 p.m., during the 14th day of the tournament. After months of battling health issues and injuries, Karolina Muchova wants to surprise the world number one.
Published on : 10/06/2023 – 09:52
Four years have passed since Karolina Muchova beat Iga Swiatek in their only confrontation, four years during which their paths have diverged: it is as a well-established world number one in the elite that the Pole will face the Czech in quest for glory.
In 2019 in Prague, Karolina Muchova, who had received an invitation, won in three sets in the first round against the Pole who had gone through the qualifications. A few months later, Iga Swiatek made a name for himself by winning his first Roland-Garros to everyone’s surprise, without losing a single set of the tournament.
Then the Pole benefited from the retirement of Australian world number one Ashleigh Barty to settle at the top of the hierarchy, a place where she asserted herself by achieving a phenomenal 2022 season with (eight titles, including a new Roland-Garros and the US Open).
The Czech suffered multiple injuries (back, abdominals, ankle) and plunged in the standings to reach 235th place last August, when her opponent on Saturday was at the height of her domination.
Iga Swiatek remembers this first duel in Prague well because at the time, she did not feel “necessarily in (her) place” and she remembers that Karolina Muchova had “played very well”.
“Become more efficient and calmer”
Now, the 21-year-old feels right in her place and very legitimate in her quest for a fourth Grand Slam title, the third in Paris.
“I am a better player. I have progressed in all areas, whether tennis, mentally, tactically, physically, I have more experience…”, she says.
Even if her defeat in the round of 16 in January in Australia, against future finalist Elena Rybakina, who has established herself in recent months as one of her main opponents on the circuit, remains in her throat.
“Since then, I have completely changed my state of mind to become more efficient and calmer,” she explains, also emphasizing that she feels better on clay than on hard.
“I have more weapons than on fast surfaces. I try to use this confidence to focus better, which allows me to play better,” she says.
Opposite, she will therefore have neither Elena Rybakina nor Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka (second), the only two players to have beaten her this year (with the exception of Barbora Krejcikova in the final in Dubai), but the unexpected Karolina Muchova and her atypical game that she says she “appreciates a lot”.
“She has a very good touch on the ball, she is able to speed up the game, she has great freedom of movement and excellent technique”, sums up Iga Swiatek who says she has shared many training sessions with her next opponent.
>> To read also: Roland-Garros: methodical, Iga Swiatek crunches Haddad Maia and qualifies for his 3rd final
Play the “perfect match”
She is coming back from difficult years, and in particular the period 2021-2022 when an abdominal injury kept her out for several months and at Roland-Garros in May 2022, her first Major since the US Open 2021, she injured her ankle again in the third round after defeating world number four and outgoing semi-finalist Maria Sakkari in second place.
So much so that after his semi-final in Australia in 2021, the ex-19th at the WTA will play his first Grand Slam final at the age of 26: “a dream”, but “everything comes on time”, philosopher-t- She.
“I had difficult times in the past. So I appreciate this moment all the more,” she says.
To reach the final, she played two of her six matches in three sets, including the grueling semi-final against Aryna Sabalenka, while Iga Swiatek again reached the final without losing a single set and inflicting on the total four 6-0 to his opponents of the first three rounds before benefiting from the abandonment of Lesia Tsurenko in the first set in the round of 16. In total, Karolina Muchova spent 12:04 a.m. battling, while Iga Swiatek took 7:41 a.m. to complete the same course.
>> To read also: Roland-Garros: after a long fight, Muchova defeats Sabalenka for a place in the final
However, the Czech has a strong statistic in her favour: she has never lost against a player in the top 3 in the world. From there to making it the favorite?
“I don’t think so, no! I didn’t know this statistic, but it’s good. It proves that I am capable of playing against them”, analyzes Karolina Muchova who sees only one solution to lift the trophy on Saturday: ” play the perfect game”.