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Tennis-Match point just another point for cool Muchova after great escape

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By Karolos Grohmann

PARIS (Reuters) – Karolina Muchova battled cramps and saved a match point to reach the French Open final with a thrilling three-set win over world number two Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus on Thursday but for the Czech adversities are nothing new.

Muchova, plagued by injuries in her career, delivered a masterclass of all-round tennis that stifled her opponent’s power from the baseline to win 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 7-5 after saving a match point at 5-2 down in the third set.

The unseeded 26-year-old, who tumbled down the rankings into the mid-200s after her injury-hit 2021 season before climbing back into the top 50, then rattled off the next five games to reach her first Grand Slam final.

Muchova retired injured in the third round in Paris last year but has never lost to a player ranked in the top three in her career with her record now standing at 5-0.

She will play top seed Iga Swiatek in Saturday’s final.

“Facing a match point, I was on a serve and I was focusing honestly on another point and try to put a great serve, and that worked,” Muchova said.

“So I didn’t really think of it much like to put any pressure like that’s a match point, just another point.”

“I just tried to focus on my serve. I think I served well, and it kind of helped me to win this point.”

Muchova, however, had done the heavy lifting in the previous sets, with her sliced backhand negating Sabalenka’s notorious power and forcing her tall opponent to the net with drop shots.

The versatile Czech also played outstanding points at the net herself, a far cry from the current trend of power-hitters glued to the baseline for fear of passing shots.

“I think I have it like that in everything in life, I don’t really want to be like anyone else,” Muchova said.

“It’s the type of game I enjoy, and I believe in. We are trying to improve it with the team.”

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)

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