Top-ranked Swiatek earns 3rd French Open title after unseeded Muchova forces 3rd set

Iga Swiatek suddenly seemed lost in the French Open final. Her strokes were awry. Her confidence was gone. Her big early lead vanished, too.

She kept looking up into the stands, seeking guidance from her coach and her sports psychologist.

So much was amiss right up until she was two games from defeat against unseeded Karolina Muchova on Saturday. And then, when she needed to most, Swiatek transformed back into, well, Swiatek. The No. 1 player in women’s tennis for more than a year. The defending champion at Roland Garros. Aggressive. Decisive. Full of clarity.

Swiatek overcame a second-set crisis and a third-set deficit to beat Muchova 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 and collect her third career championship at the French Open and fourth Grand Slam title.

Swiatek raced to a 3-0 lead after just 10 minutes in Court Philippe Chatrier, taking 12 of the initial 15 points, and then was ahead 3-0 in the second set, too, before Muchova made things more intriguing.

With Swiatek looking out of sorts and seeking advice from her coach between points, Muchova grabbed five of six games on the way to pulling even at a set apiece. Muchova carried that momentum into the deciding set, going ahead 2-0.

That’s when Swiatek returned to her usual brand of crisp, clean tennis, scurrying around the red clay with sublime defence and taking advantage of Muchova’s repeated mistakes. Still, Swiatek again found herself behind by a break at 4-3 in the third set before grabbing the last three games.

Repeat champion

When it ended on a double-fault by Muchova, Swiatek dropped her racket, hunched forward and covered her face as she cried.

The 22-year-old from Poland has won the French Open twice in a row now, along with her 2020 title there and her triumph at the U.S. Open last September. That makes Swiatek the youngest woman with four Grand Slam trophies since Serena Williams was 20 when she got to that number at the 2002 U.S. Open.

Swiatek is also only the third woman in the professional era to start 4-0 in major finals, joining Monica Seles and Naomi Osaka.

Muchova, who is ranked 43rd, was participating in a championship match at a Slam for the first time.

And it was quite a debut, filled with sections where Swiatek, the dominant player in women’s tennis for more than a year now, was better, and sections where Muchova was.

Every time one woman or the other seemed to be wresting control, every time one or the other raised her level enough that the end appeared in sight, the road curved in a different direction.

Swiatek’s brilliant start meant little.

As did Muchova’s edges of 2-0 and 4-3 in the third set.

Oda takes men’s wheelchair title

Japanese teenager Tokito Oda won the French Open wheelchair final to become the youngest man to win a Grand Slam tournament in any discipline, while Diede De Groot won the women’s final on Saturday for her 18th major singles title.

The 17-year-old Oda was seeded second and beat top-seeded Alfie Hewett of Britain 6-1, 6-4 on Court Philippe Chatrier for his first major title. The International Tennis Federation confirmed Oda’s record, which excludes juniors, and listed his age as 17 years, 33 days.

Oda called it “the happiest day of my career” and he will also overtake Hewett at the top of the rankings on Monday.

“Two dreams come true,” said Oda, who was beaten by Hewett earlier this year in the Australian Open final.

Hewett missed out on this fourth French Open title, his eighth major in singles and his 24th Slam overall.

Earlier, the 26-year-old De Groot of the Netherlands defeated second-seeded Yui Kamiji of Japan 6-2, 6-0 for her fourth title at Roland Garros, her 18th major in singles and 34th Slam overall.

De Groot is the reigning Paralympics champion.




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