World No. 1 Iga Swiatek sealed a hat-trick of French Open titles and fourth at a Grand Slam after beating Czech Karolina Muchova on Saturday.
The 22-year-old Polish cemented her status as the best player in the world, especially on clay, with her third title in four years at Roland Garros by beating Karolina Muchova to win 6-2 5-7 6-4 after two hours and 46 minutes.
It was by far the toughest of her Grand Slam finals, with unseeded Czech Muchova struggling after a set and 3-0 down to force a decider.
Muchova twice led by a break but Swiatek refused to be beaten, eventually prevailing before crouching on the clay in tears.
Swiatek’s first attempt to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup went wrong when the lid fell off and had to be retrieved, but she lifted it well above her head on the second try.
“First of all, congratulations to Karolina,” said the Pole. “I really hope we have a lot more finals. To my team, sorry for being so painful. I will try to do better.
“I know we won this tournament, but it’s not easy to be on tour for a few weeks without a break. I’m really happy that we can be satisfied at the moment and just celebrate.”
Iga Swiatek at 22…
The youngest since Monica Seles to win consecutive titles at Roland Garros.
First woman to defend the title since Justine Henin.
Joins Seles and Naomi Osaka as the only Open Era women to have won their first four Slam finals.
The youngest to four Grand Slam titles since Serena Williams.
She is the first woman since Justine Henin in 2007 to successfully defend her title on Parisian clay and joins Naomi Osaka on four Grand Slam titles – veteran Venus Williams with seven is the only active player to hold more.
Muchova got off to a very nervous start and it looked like Swiatek would meet little resistance, but Muchova got on the board in the fourth game and the rest of the first set was competitive.
The Czech showed the variety she has in her match against Sabalenka, keeping the Australian Open champion off balance with her skill on the court and her willingness to come to the net, and she produced some standout moments here.
There were simply too many unforced errors, however, as Swiatek was able to maintain his preferred mid-baseline position and dictate with his heavy forehand.
A second break of serve gave Swiatek the first set, making her the first player, male or female, to win her first seven sets in a Grand Slam final.
When she took a 3-0 lead again in the second, it looked like number eight was not far off, but Muchova dug in and broke Swiatek for the first time in game five with a brilliant forehand.
The majority of the crowd wanted her to extend Swiatek further and suddenly it was the Pole who felt the tension, with a double fault giving Muchova the chance to serve for the set.
She couldn’t stand it, but another shaky game from Swiatek gave her a second chance and this time she crossed the line, picking up her third set point after a superb all-court rally.
Muchova has suffered a lot from injuries during her career and it wasn’t until last year that doctors told her she might have to drop out of the game.
She capitalized on her momentum early in the tiebreaker by taking a 2-0 lead as Swiatek threatened to implode, but the 22-year-old quickly rallied to equalise.
Swiatek vs. Muchova: The Story of the Gang
|1st serve winning percentage
|2nd serve winning percentage
|Break points earned
|Net points earned
They traded breaks again in games seven and eight, with Muchova unable to pull away, and Swiatek regained the upper hand when she fought off another break point to hold it 5-4.
The pressure to serve to stay in the competition proved too much for Muchova, who made three errors before double faulting on match point in a cruel end to an absorbing final.
Muchova broke down in tears after receiving her runner-up trophy from Chris Evert.
She calmed down as the crowd chanted her name, before saying: “It’s amazing, thank you all. It’s been an incredible three weeks in Paris for me and my team.
“It was so close but yet so far. It happens when you play one of the best. Iga, I want to congratulate you and your team again.
“For my box, when I look at these people, I really feel like I’m the winner, so thank you. Hopefully this is just the beginning for us. We’ve come a long way.”