We still remember the serious injury to Alexander Zverev's right ankle in 2022 during a legendary semifinal against Rafael Nadal. A year later, the German found the last four at Roland-Garros. But he is not the only one to follow such a course. Also in 2022, in the 3rd round of the women's draw, Karolina Muchova twisted her ankle and left Court Suzanne-Lenglen sitting in a wheelchair. A striking image for the 26-year-old Czech player, who managed this Thursday the feat of defeating Aryna Sabalenka, world number 2, to reach her first Grand Slam final.
A form of revenge for the former top 20 in the world (19th in May 2021). Because this ankle injury was not the only one to disrupt his career. Persistent pain in his left knee made him live a year 2022 for the least complicated. "I was in a bad state," Muchova said of her withdrawal from the 2022 Australian Open. Doctors told me I would stop tennis. But I stayed positive, I tried to work to come back. My ranking has fallen but I'm better now and I'm relishing to be back at the top. »
The Czech says she has no regrets about this tortuous journey. "I don't think like that," she smiles. Who knows what could have happened all this time? Nothing has been easy, it's true. But I know what I've been through and, really, that's why I want to enjoy this final." And like the German Zevrev, she prefers not to dwell on the past and her bruised ankle at Roland-Garros in 2022. "I don't want to talk about it too much. I'm here today and even stronger."
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Finding her in the final remains a huge surprise. Because of his non-seeded status, already. Muchova becomes only the 12th player to achieve this feat in 93 editions. His compatriots Barbora Krejcikova (winner in 2021) and Marketa Vondrousova (finalist in 2019) had inspired him. "She stayed off the radar but she always played very good tennis," said her opponent of the day, Aryna Sabalenka. She is aggressive, goes to the net, serves well... She traps you and plays really well. »
Undefeated against the top 3
Which is not a surprise? In five confrontations against players ranked in the top 3, Muchova has not... never lost! "I didn't know that statistic," Muchova admits. I think my game, my mindset... It was a hell of a game today. I gave it my all and maybe that's the explanation. The scenario of the match was like a big eight. I'm leading 2-5 in the third set... But there was only one break ahead. I had to think point by point and then you never know." A solid serve to dismiss a match ball also changed everything.
Karolina Muchova was reassured about her physical condition after this "very intense" meeting. "I had a few cramps," says the 43rd player in the world. After two hours, my body felt it. You had to put power on every shot. I had a slump in the third set and I'm exhausted now to be honest. But tomorrow I am resting and I will do everything to recover well." And aim for a second career title, his first Grand Slam.
His best result until this Roland-Garros final was in January 2021. A semi-final at the Australian Open acquired after dismissing the world number 1 at the time Ashleigh Barty. Rebelote against Iga Swiatek?