When the Grand Slam tournament reaches semifinal stages, everyone has to show their best tennis. And that's something that the protagonists of the first WTA semifinal match definitely adhered to and fans on the Court Philippe-Chatrier can just confirm that.
Both players were dominant on their way to the semifinals as Karolina Muchova lost only one set, while the Belarusian was 100% in that regard. The two met once before on the WTA Tour, and it Sabalenka was better in that too, winning in two sets four years ago.
But at the 2023 Roland Garros, things were different. World No. 2 faced a lot of pressure, especially off the tennis court, when she admitted to even feeling disrespect. All of that was because of press conferences and her decision to skip them, but she calmed the waters after she attended one after her quarterfinal win over Elina Svitolina.
Back on the Court Philippe-Chatrier, Sabalenka didn't want to be distracted and she focused only on the most important thing, her performance. But the Czech player put on an incredible show and one of her best performances in recent months.
Muchova was the more dangerous player in the opening and she could confirm that by winning the set already in the tenth game after she broke her opponent's serve. But the World No. 43 didn't use the single set point that she had and we were headed into a tie-break.
The tie-break proved to be a real fight, but Muchova proved that she came to the Roland Garros semifinal to fight for a final. After an hour and nine minutes, she won the tie-break 7-5 and took the first set after what was a real battle.
Although the former World No. 19 and 2021 Australian Open semifinalist opened the second set with another break, Sabalenka showed why she was the favourite and followed with two breaks to get into a 4-3 lead in the second set.
But also that lead was short-lived and after more than two hours, players contested another tie-break. This time, there were many more mini-breaks and chances on both sides, but Muchova never got a chance to finish the match off.
On the other hand, Sabalenka seemed to be controlling the tie-break, winning it 7-5 and taking the match into a decider after two hours and twelve minutes of play in what was already an epic semifinal match.
As both players started to feel the fatigue kicking in, the match became even more interesting. Sabalenka seemed to be in control of the proceedings, having five break points in the third set, while not allowing the Czech player any chances on her serve.
After using one of those, the Belarusian had her sixth break point of the set in the eighth game, but this time, it was also a match point. And even though it seemed like an end of the match, it was a start of an incredible comeback.
Muchova won 12 of the following 13 rallies and at 5-5, and 15-0, she led for the first time in the deciding set. That was when Sabalenka made a decision to change her racquet and even though it seemed to have initially helped her, the Czech player put together another string of points, breaking again to serve for the match.
Muchova handled the pressure like she's been in the situation multiple times before, serving out the match to love and winning 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-5 to book her maiden Grand Slam final.
Former World No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska said that only Iga Swiatek herself and Aryna Sabalenka can beat her, but if the Pole wins her semifinal match against Beatriz Haddad Maia, she will probably face a different opponent than she expected as it will be Karolina Muchova from the Czech Republic, who was really relieved after her triumph.
"Thank you very much, everyone. I don't really know what happened, just the atmosphere of people pushing me all the match. I just tried to keep fighting, and it worked, I'm so happy."
From the post-match interview of the Czech player, it was quite obvious that she loved the crowd on the Court Philippe-Chatrier and she'll hope that they will support her again also on Saturday.
"Just look around, it's pretty easy here on this beautiful stadium with so many people watching. I go for the towel and people there are cheering for me, it's an incredible feeling."