Iga Swiatek and Karolina Muchova will play in Saturday's big final of Roland Garros 2023 after both prevailed during an absolutely amazing semifinals day on the Philippe Chartier Court today. Muchova has made a huge upset on Aryna Sabalenka, winning the 3:17 hours long battle after an impressive comeback from being 2-5 down in third set and denying a matchpoint to win it 7-5 eventually. Swiatek has made her job done, winning in straights against Beatriz Haddad Maia, but it was surely the most difficult challenge during this fortnight for the Pole, who can defend her last year's title and win the French Open for third time in career on Saturday.
Long battle till the settlement
This will be remembered as one of the most epic women's Grand Slam matches during recent years, considering the stake, level presented by both the players and major plot twist, which happened in third set, when the match was seemingly in the bag of Sabalenka. The opening set was staying on a very high level. Both players approached the tiebreak after being broken just once. Muchova could end it up easier, but did not serve for the set in 10th game, having even a setpoint while being *5-4 40-15 up. Despite this, the Czech won a close tie-break, and followed it with moving into the lead in second set by gearning an early break in second game. Sabalenka has needed to fight back and managed to do so, but lost the break advantage in 8th game and another tiebreak was needed there. The WTA Race leader held her nerves there and forced the decider.
Sabalenka has clicked the gear since the start of second set. The current world's number two has gained some momentum on serve, being able to end up the points in her favourite manner, with direct solutions. Muchova managed to make a hold in second game despite being 0-40 down, but did not prevent her opponent for move up into break lead in 6th game. Sabalenka was leading 5-2 after 7 games and looked so confident at this time, that barely anyone could expect any momentum switch there. The Belarusian has faced a first opportunity to close this match in 8th game, having a breakpoint within Muchova's serve, but the Czech cleared the danger here.
Something really stranged happened to Sabalenka since there, as she lost all the composure, and slipped away the break advantage quite easily, losing the 9th game after making three unforced errors, missing backhand shots by a huge margin. Meanwhile, Muchova was looking concerned about her right leg, having some visible problems with moving during the changeovers. It has not prevented the Czech to play the consistent and very solid tennis, which helped her to put the vulnerable Sabalenka in trouble. Muchova did not lose any single point on her serve till the end of match and gained another break in 11th game, which occured to be decisive in the completion of this miraculous comeback.
Consistency and resillence was the key
The numbers have proved, that this match was a super high performance show and display how great was the Muchova's level today. The winner of this match has scored 38 winners in compare to just 27 unforced errors. Muchova had a positive ratio in each of three sets, being super consistent from the start to finish, which is an amazing achievement, while playing against such a dominant player as Sabalenka. The Belarusian scored 44 winners and apparently had this match under control in third set, but the blackout since an unconverted matchpoint was clearly reflected in the stats. Third set was the only one, when Sabalenka had a clearly negative ratio with 13 winners to 21 unforced errors. Muchova won 20 out of 24 points since defending the matchpoint in 8th game, while a significant part of those were unforced errors commited by the pre-match favorite.
Swiatek passes a difficult test
Iga Swiatek did not disappoint in the role of huge pre-match favorite ahead of the clash against Beatriz Haddad Maia. The Brazilian had showed up really well though, despite all the fatigue suffered during the preeceding matches, as she fought her place in the semis in 4 consecutive three-setters, including a 3:51 hours battle against Sara Sorribes Tormo in fourth round, three days ago.
Haddad Maia was the first one to gain a break advantage in both sets. Swiatek has quickly took control of the opening set and won it 6-2, but the second one was much more intense, as it ended up after 90 minutes (!) and a close tiebreak, which could end up in favour of the Brazilian as well. Haddad Maia had three breakpoints in 9th game to take the lead 5-4, but Swiatek made a crucial hold there. The Brazilian had also a single mini-break advantage in tiebreak, but hit the net during a great return-volley action, which could give her a lead 6-3 and three setpoints. The 14th seed had still an advantage and two serves in the bag, but missed a forehand wide and the momentum went on Swiatek's side. The title holder did not slip away the first serious chance to take this difficult set and secured her advance into final with 6th straight sets win in a row.
The world's number one stays as for now
Today's exciting matches did not only emerge the line-up of Saturday's final, but had a significant implications on the situation in the WTA rankings. Sabalenka was very close to put an immense pressure of Swiatek, who was playing after the match, where her most dangerous opponent this year has suffered a shocking lose. With Sabalenka being already out of the tournament on this stage, Swiatek has needed to win her match to secure the leader's spot after Roland Garros and made it done. The Pole will approach the Saturday's final without any pressure regarding rankings, and can leave Paris with about 900 points advantage in case of winning against Muchova. The Czech will surely get her career's peak after Roland Garros, as she is classified 16th in live rankings. The eventual win over Swiatek can give her not just the maiden Grand Slam title, but also the advance into top 10.