Karolina Muchova Hungry For More After Bittersweet French Open - UBITENNIS
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Karolina Muchova Hungry For More After Bittersweet French Open

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Karolina Muchova says narrowingly missing out on her first Grand Slam title at the French Open has enhanced her motivation for the future. 

The 26-year-old was just two games away from winning the trophy at Roland Garros but ended up losing 6-2, 5-7, 6-4, to a resilient Iga Swiatek in what was a topsy-turvey showdown. Muchova battled back from a 0-3 deficit in the second set to revive her chances. Then in the decider, she had a break advantage on two occasions but was unable to hold both of them. 

“The feeling is a little bitter because I felt it was a very close match,” she said during her press conference. “But overall, to call myself a Grand Slam finalist, it’s an amazing achievement and a big motivation for me to work in the future and to get a chance again to play for these big titles.”

Muchova’s mixed feeling about her latest match comes at the end of what has been a dream run in Paris. Coming into the tournament unseeded, she began her campaign by knocking out eighth seed Maria Sakkari for the second year in a row. She then scored wins over former semi-finalist Nadia Podorska, 2021 runner-up Anastasia Pavlychenkova and world No.2 Aryna Sabalenka who she beat by coming back from 2-5 in the final set. 

Taking on the formidable Swiatek on Saturday, Muchova reject any suggestion that her play early on in the final was related to nerves. Despite being a former Australian Open semi-finalist and two-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist, it was the first time she had played in a major final.

“I didn’t feel that nervous. I tried to be focused,” she explained. “I knew I was playing for the big thing but I didn’t kind of let it get to myself. I just tried to play as I always do, as if I would play the first round or the final.”

In one way the heartbreaking loss could be a blessing in disguise for the Czech who illustrated the ability to go toe-to-toe with the world No.1. Her style of play is a combination of old school but with her unique style added into it. Former world No.1 Mats Wilander said on the day of the French Open final that he believes Muchova ‘could be the most complete women’s player currently on the Tour’ whilst commentating for Eurosport.  

“To play against her (Swiatek), you have to be ready. The balls are coming fast. She’s not making any easy mistakes and you always know that if you have a chance and you have to take it because maybe there will not be another chance. That’s why she’s World No. 1 and you have to bring your best performance to be able to beat her.”

Muchova

Given her unexpected success on the clay, more will be taking note of Muchova heading into Wimbledon which is played on a surface that ‘she likes more.’ She has made three main draw appearances at Wimbledon so far in her career, reaching the last eight twice before losing in the first round last year to Simona Halep. 

“I look forward to playing on the grass, on the faster surfaces. These are for sure the surfaces I prefer and I like more.” She said. 
“This was my last clay tournament. It could have ended a little bit better, but it was still pretty great. I look forward to playing now on the grass.

Muchova started the French Open ranked No.43 in the world but will now rise to a career-high of 16th on Monday. 

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World No.634 Laura Samson Reaches First WTA Quarter-Final At 16

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Laura Samon - image via itftennis.com/ photo credi: Manuel Queimadelos

Laura Samson has become the first player born in 2008 to reach the quarter-finals of a WTA event after producing a surprise win on Tuesday. 

The 16-year-old wildcard stunned second seed Katerina Siniakova 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, in the second round at the Prague Open. Her triumph occurred a day after she dropped just two games against Tara Wurth in her opening match. This week is Samson’s Tour debut after playing 10 events on the lower-level ITF circuit. 

“I’m extremely surprised,” she said during her on-court interview after beating Siniakova. “I didn’t go into it as favorite. I’m so proud of myself and I hope I will continue to play like this. As I was going into the second set I thought, ‘I have nothing to lose, I didn’t play good in the first set.’ I’m not really sure when [I thought I could win], I just believed myself in the third set.” 

Samson is the latest Czech player to break through following a sucessful junior career. Last year she won the Wimbledon girls’ doubles title and was runner-up in the French Open singles tournament in June. She is currently No.3 in the ITF junior rankings but has been ranked as high as No.1. 

Earlier this year, Samson decided to change her name on the Tour by dropping the last three letters (ova). The reason why she did so was to avoid getting confused with another player. 

“I first noticed it last year, there was a problem that I was getting strings (the) of Lyudmila Samsonova,” she told tenisovysvet.cz.

“I also talked about it with her and, for example, according to the schedule, she also sometimes thought she was playing, but it was me,” 

“I would have liked the ending -ová, but unfortunately it turned out like this.”

The teenager will next take on world No.248 Oksana Selekhmeteva with the winner of that match progressing to their first WTA semi-final.  21-year-old Selekhmeteva is a former top 10 junior player who came through two rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw. She is a two-time junior Grand Slam champion in doubles. 

There are five seeds remaining in the tournament, including top seed Linda Nosková who will play Germany’s Ella Seidel in her next match. 

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Wimbledon Finalist Jasmine Paolini – ‘I’m A Little Bit Scared To Dream Too Much’

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After coming close to her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, Jasmine Paolini believes consistency is key to having another shot at glory.

The 28-year-old dropped only one set en route to becoming the first Italian woman to reach a Wimbledon final. However, she was denied the title by Barbora Krejcikova, who won in three sets. Paolini was broken once in the decider which was due to a double fault from the Italian following an unsuccessful hawk-eye challenge made on her first serve. Then she failed to convert two break points when down 4-5 before Krejcikova held to seal glory.

“I started bad,” she reflected afterwards.

“I took some time and try to relax and to come back in the second set stronger to try to push the ball more because I was a little bit controlling too much, and I missed a lot of shots.

“She was playing, honestly, very good the first set. She was serving really, really good. High percentage of first serves.

“It was tough but I think I did better than the last final (at the French Open), but still it’s not enough.”

Prior to Saturday, Paolini had scored wins over former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, Medison Keys (via retirement) and a marathon victory over Donna Vedic. She has now won 15 Grand Slam matches in 2024 compared to just one last season.

The defeat comes less than two months after the French Open where Paolini contested her first major final but lost in two sets to world No.1 Iga Swiatek. Since the start of this season, she has risen more than 20 places in the rankings and will reach No.5 on Monday.

Despite being in her late 20s, the Italian is producing some of her best tennis on the Tour. Something she credits to a combination of things. 

“I improved my game a little bit. I believe more in myself. I improved my serve. I think I improve the return.” She explained.

“I think physically I’m better than two years ago. I’ve been working with a new fitness coach for one-and-a-half years.

“There are many things, I think. Not just one. I think also winning matches helps a lot.”

Whilst she is heading in the right direction on the Tour, Paolini has vowed not to get too ahead of herself.

“Sometimes I’m a little bit scared to dream too much.” she said.

“I’m going back, trying to practice and stay in the present. This is the goal for me and my team, to try to keep this level as much as possible.

“If I keep this level, I think I can have the chance to do great things.

“Today I was dreaming of holding the (Wimbledon) trophy but it didn’t go well.

“I’m just enjoying the position where I am right now.”

Paolini has won 30 out of 43 matches on the Tour so far this season.

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