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Iga Swiatek reasserts herself atop women’s tennis with third Roland Garros victory
For a second time, the Pole took the title in Paris dropping only one set as she took down world No. 43 Karolina Muchova 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 on championship Saturday.
Published Jun 10, 2023
WATCH: Iga Swiatek defeats Karolina Muchova in the 2023 Roland Garros women's singles final
When defending champion Iga Swiatek arrived in Paris, the top seed was the overwhelming favorite. But there were some questions surrounding her fitness, after an injury scare during a lead-up tournament in Rome, and about her mental edge, as a ‘Big 3’ rivalry began to emerge on the WTA Tour.
Through a fortnight at Roland Garros, Swiatek answered them all and passed each test with flying colors. Having already extended her stay as WTA world No. 1, the Pole was untouchable for long stretches on Court Philippe Chatrier as she claimed her fourth Grand Slam trophy with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Karolina Muchova on Saturday.
"I'm feeling all these different emotions right now. It's pretty surreal, everything," Swiatek said. "But the match was really intense, a lot of ups and downs. Stressful moments and coming back. So I'm pretty happy that at the end I could be solid in those few last games and finish it.
"But Karolina really played well. It was a big challenge. I'm happy and really proud of myself that I did it."
Her terre battue dominance was on full display as Swiatek lifted the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen having only dropped one set for the second time—in fact, during her three runs to the title, also in 2020 and 2022, she has only lost two sets total.
The 22-year-old is now the youngest player since 16-year-old Monica Seles to win back-to-back titles at Roland Garros. Swiatek also joins Seles, Serena Williams, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, and Margaret Court as a three-time champion in Paris. Only four women own more terre battue titles: Chris Evert (7), Stefanie Graf (6) and Justine Henin (4).
The women’s final at Roland Garros featured a first-time major finalist for the fifth straight year, with world No. 43 Muchova upsetting No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka and No. 8 Maria Sakkari to book her place. But against two hours and 49 minutes of Swiatek’s methodical aggression and smothering tennis, the 26-year-old Czech could only bring out flashes of her best game.
Muchova kept the match from being, as one TV commentator put it, “yet another Swiatek steamroll” by fighting her way back in a second-set tiebreak. After Swiatek breezed through the opener 6-2—winning her first seven sets in a Grand Slam final, a feat achieved in the Open era for the first time—Muchova began to swing freely while frustration grew for the world No. 1.
"Iga, obviously she usually has these great starts to the matches, I would say. When she's on a roll, it's tough to break in," Muchova said afterward. "But I was trying to continue to change the rhythms and to get her out of the rhythm, and then in the second set, with the one break that I managed there, I came alive a little bit.
"I felt that then in the third set the difference was not so big. We both had chances. I didn't use them as well as she did."
With the famously fickle French crowd roaring in approval of more tennis, Muchova did most of the running as she hustled from tramline to tramline to retrieve every shot, constantly under pressure from Swiatek’s heavy hitting. The Czech found success at the net, winning 64 percent of points (18/28) when she pulled Swiatek away from the baseline.
But Swiatek wouldn’t be denied for long, as she held off a surging Muchova in the third set with some of her best tennis of the tournament. Swiatek was twice down a break, 0-2 and 3-4, and faced another break point at the crucial 4-4 game. On match point, Muchova struck her third double fault of the encounter, sending Swiatek to her knees in celebration of a fourth major title.
"I don't know what I felt. It's hard to describe. But a lot of happiness. I felt suddenly, you know, tired of these three weeks," Swiatek reflected. "...Since Stuttgart I haven't been home. So I'm happy that, I don't know, I finished the whole clay court swing so well, and that I kind of survived.
"I guess I'm never going to kind of doubt my strength again maybe because of that."
Swiatek has now won her first four Grand Slam finals, making her just the third woman in the Open era to do so after Seles and Naomi Osaka.
By reaching the final, Muchova will ascend to a new career-high ranking of world No.16 on Monday.