12 months ago at the French Open Karolina Muchova was left crying on the court but for a very different reason.
At the 2022 tournament, she took on America’s Amanda Anisimova in the third round with their encounter going into a deciding set. Then disaster struck for the Czech who rolled her ankle and subsequently was forced to retire from her match. It was the latest injury setback for Muchova who has also had to contend with issues related to her thigh, back and abdomen during some stage of her career. Unfortunately, this has prevented her from reaching her full potential in the sport for a long period.
“I don’t even want to talk about last year,” she replied when asked in her press conference about that match. “It was pretty sad for me. I beat Sakkari. I played great against Amanda and then that happened. It was another pushback. “
However, at Roland Garros this year Muchova reminded the world of tennis how much of a formidable player she can be. Unseed in the draw she dropped only one set en route to the semi-finals which was in her second match against Nadia Podoroska who reached the last four of the tournament in 2020. She also beat No.8 seed Maria Sakkari in the first round. Her latest victory saw her stage an epic comeback from 2-5 down in the decider to stun world No.2 Aryna Sabalenka 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-5.
“There have been many moments, many lows, from one injury to another,” Muchova reflected on her past struggles.
“When I missed Australian Open last year, and I was in a pretty bad state healthy-wise, I was working out a lot to try to get back.’
“Some doctors told me that maybe I shouldn’t do sport anymore. But I always kept it positive in my mind. I tried to work and do all the exercises to be able to come back.”
To put Muchova’s stunning run into context only three players with a lower ranking than her have reached the final in Paris. They are Iga Swiatek (No.54 in 2020), Jelena Ostapenko (No.47 in 2017) and Renata Tomanova (No.47 in 1976).
“It’s up-and-downs in life all the time. Now I’m enjoying that I’m on the upper part now.” The world No.43 said.
Amid her physical problems, Muchova has already proven herself to be a threat at major tournaments. In 2021 she achieve her best Grand Slam run when she reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Furthermore, she is also a two-time quarter-finalist at Wimbledon.
Known for her use of old-school tennis combined with her unique approach to the sport, Muchova likes to stand out from the rest. She is coached by Emil Miske who has been with her for a long period of her career.
“I don’t want to be like anyone else,” she says.
“It’s the type of game I enjoy, and I believe in. We are trying to improve it with the team. Now we can see that it is working, so that’s nice.”
Muchova will take on Swiatek in the French Open final on Saturday. Not only is her maiden Grand Slam title up for grabs, if she wins she will break into the world’s top 10 for the first time.
“I will need to fight. I’ll need to play my best. I have to bring the best out of me and play a perfect match to be able to win a Grand Slam.” The Czech concluded.
Asian Games Champion Qinwen Zheng Reveals Shock Departure Of Coach Fissette
China’s Qinwen Zheng says she feels ‘hurt’ by the decision of her former coach to end their collaboration in order to work with another player.
The US Open quarter-finalist had been working with Belgium’s Wim Fissette in recent weeks following the departure of Pere Riba who is now the coach of Coco Gauff. Fissette has a wealth of experience in women’s tennis after working with the likes of Kim Clijsters and Naomi Osaka. However, Zheng says she is now looking for a new mentor.
“I understand his decision, but my family and I feel hurt. Right now I don’t want to talk about this person (Fissette),’ journalist Bendou Zhang quoted her as saying.
Fissette is yet to comment on his departure. He had previously coached former world No.1 Osaka between 2019-2022 and during this period she won two of her four Grand Slam titles. The American-based Japanese player is on maternity leave from the sport and gave birth to her first child in July.
20-year-old Zheng is currently ranked 23rd in the world and won her maiden WTA title in Palermo earlier this year. She is the youngest player from her country to have reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam in the Open Era following her run at Flushing Medows. This year she has beaten top 10 players Ons Jabeur and Daria Kasatkina.
Zheng’s latest career milestone is winning gold at the Asian Games on Friday. in the final, she defeated Zhu Lin 6-2, 6-4, in the blistering Hangzhou heat.
“The feeling was incredible,” Zheng said. “I’m really happy about that. That was not an easy match today and also yesterday (in semifinal against Alex Eala). All of them are good fighters.”
It is not clear who Zheng will be working with during the Asian swing.
Daria Kasatkina Criticises Decision To Not Use Roof At Sweltering Pan Pacific Open
Daria Kasatkina has taken a swipe at organizers at the Toray Pan Pacific Open for not using the roof to cover their premier court on Thursday due to the heat.
The Russian played her second round match against Despina Papamichail in temperatures around 30 degrees with the humidity making it feel even warmer. Kasatkina battled to a 6-4, 6-4, win after spending more than two hours on the court. She dropped serve four times in the match but managed to break Papamichail seven times en route to victory.
Speaking on the court following his latest tour win, the world No.13 admitted that she struggled in the conditions and implied that she believed the roof should have been closed to shield the players from the sun. Tokyo, which is where the tournament is staged, has experienced a record-breaking number of ‘extremely hot’ days this year with their autumn season being warmer than usual. Something that some warn could be a more regular occurrence due to climate change.
“We cannot do much about it. We are using the ice towels and some supplements to keep you hydrated. By at the end, you cannot fight with something you cannot control,” Kasatkina commented on the conditions during her on-court interview.
“I think in these kinds of conditions, if you have a roof, better maybe to close it. If you have these opportunities, better to use it than to make players almost die on the field.” She added.
Kasatkina is through to her seventh Tour quarter-final of the season. Awaiting her in the next round will be second seed Jessica Pegula who beat Spain’s Cristina Bucșa 6-1, 6-2, in her second round match on Wednesday. It will be only the second Tour meeting between the two players and their first on a hard court.
Elsewhere in Tokyo, another player to reach the last eight in France’s Caroline Garcia who beat Anhelina Kahlinina 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile, Anastasia Pavlychenkova defeated Czech Republic’s Linda Noskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.
Barbora Krejcikova Does The Double In San Jose
After what has been a challenging past few weeks on the Tour, Barbora Krejcikova has returned to the winner’s circle by claiming both the singles and doubles titles at the San Diego Open.
The world No.13 battled to a marathon 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, win over Sofia Kenin in what was a clash of the former Grand Slam champions. Krejcikova was pushed to her limits throughout the two-and-a-half-hour clash with there being no break in the decider until the final game. It is the second singles title the Czech has won on the WTA Tour this season after Dubai and her seventh overall.
“Normally I wouldn’t be here,” said Krejcikova, who received a wild card to play in the tournament “I really want to thank them (the tournament organisers). It was very special. I really enjoyed my stay here.”
Krejcikova’s run to the trophy has also seen her score wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia and Danielle Collins earlier in the week. She is the first player from her country to win the tournament.
Following on from that triumph, the 27-year-old then clinched the doubles title alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova. The duo beat Collins and Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-4.
Krejcikova came into San Jose on a four-match losing streak which started at Wimbledon where she was forced to withdraw from her secound round clash due to a left leg injury.
“I came here with not really good statistics after my injury, I didn’t actually win any matches,” she said. “So I just came here and I pretty much was hoping and believing that I could get the first win and go from there. It’s pretty special to be sitting here having won [the title].”
It is only the second time in Krejcikova’s career that she has won both the singles and doubles titles at the same event. The first time she did so was at the 2021 French Open where her partner in the doubles was also Siniakova.
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