Iga Swiatek beats Karolina Muchova in the French Open final for her 3rd trophy in Paris, 4th Slam

Poland’s Iga Swiatek kisses the trophy Suzanne Lenglen following her victory over Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova during their women’s singles final match of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on Jun. 10, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 10 June 2023

Iga Swiatek beats Karolina Muchova in the French Open final for her 3rd trophy in Paris, 4th Slam

  • So much was amiss right up until she was two games from defeat against unseeded Karolina Muchova on Saturday
  • “I really love being here,” Swiatek said

PARIS: Iga Swiatek suddenly seemed lost in the French Open final. Her strokes were awry. Her confidence was gone. Her big early lead vanished, too.
She kept looking up into the stands, seeking guidance from her coach and her sports psychologist.
So much was amiss right up until she was two games from defeat against unseeded Karolina Muchova on Saturday. And then, when she needed to most, Swiatek transformed back into, well, Swiatek. The No. 1 player in women’s tennis for more than a year. The defending champion at Roland Garros. Aggressive. Decisive. Full of clarity.
Swiatek overcame a second-set crisis and a third-set deficit to beat Muchova 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 and collect her third career championship at the French Open and fourth Grand Slam title.
“I really love being here,” Swiatek said. “Basically, it’s my favorite place on tour.”
Looking comfortable as can be at the outset, she raced to a 3-0 lead after just 10 minutes in Court Philippe Chatrier — taking 12 of the initial 15 points — and then was ahead 3-0 in the second set, too, before Muchova made things more intriguing.
Swiatek seemed out of sorts, unable to find the right strokes and unable to figure out why. Players are allowed to communicate with their coaches, but whatever Tomasz Wiktorowski — or sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz — might have been trying to tell Swiatek, either the message wasn’t getting through or it wasn’t working right away.
“I know much how much teams are important in our sport. Even though it’s an individual sport, I wouldn’t be here without my team,” Swiatek said afterward. “So, really, thank you, guys. Sorry for being such a pain in the” — and she let the sentence end there.
Muchova grabbed five of six games on the way to pulling even at a set apiece. She carried that momentum into the deciding set, going ahead by a break twice.
That’s when Swiatek returned to her usual brand of crisp, clean tennis, scurrying around the red clay with sublime defense and finding just the occasions to try for a winner. She claimed the last three games of the match.
When it ended on a double-fault by Muchova, Swiatek dropped her racket, hunched forward and covered her face as she cried.
The 22-year-old from Poland has won the French Open twice in a row now, along with her 2020 title there and her triumph at the US Open last September. That makes Swiatek the youngest woman with four Grand Slam trophies since Serena Williams was 20 when she got to that number at the 2002 US Open.
Swiatek is also only the third woman in the professional era to start 4-0 in major finals, joining Monica Seles and Naomi Osaka.
“This was so close, but yet so far,” said Muchova, who is ranked 43rd and was participating in a championship match at a Slam for the first time.
“That happens when you play one of the best: Iga,” Muchova said. “So, I want to congratulate you out loud once again and your team.”
The contest was filled with sections where Swiatek — the dominant player in women’s tennis for more than a year now — was better, and sections where Muchova was.
Every time one woman or the other seemed to be wresting control, every time one or the other raised her level enough that the end appeared in sight, the road curved in a different direction.
Swiatek’s brilliant beginning meant little.
As did Muchova’s edges of 2-0 and 4-3 in the third set.
One point in particular captured the essence of Muchova’s unwillingness to count herself out.
Serving for the second set at deuce while ahead 6-5, Muchova pushed to the net and ranged well to her right for a forehand volley. Swiatek then sent her scrambling to the left, and Muchova somehow slid and stretched for a backhand volley while losing her balance. Her racket fell, and so did she, placing her hands on the clay to brace herself.
The ball, somehow, landed in to take the point, and a moment later, when Swiatek’s backhand return sailed long, Muchova raised her right fist and let out a yell.
Suddenly, it was a set apiece. Suddenly, the outcome was entirely in doubt.
So then the question became: Might Muchova be able to fashion another dramatic comeback, the way she did in the semifinals on Thursday? In that match, against No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka, the reigning Australian Open champion, Muchova faced a match point while trailing 5-2 in the third set and then completely reversed things, taking 20 of the last 24 points and each of the last five games to win.
That result made Muchova 5-0 for her career against foes in the Top 3.
Any hope she had of making that 6-0 dissipated down the stretch.
Once again, Swiatek produced what it takes to win. Once again, she was holding a trophy — although she bobbled it during the postmatch ceremony, causing its top to fall.

Ugo Humbert dominates Alexander Bublik to claim glory at 32nd Dubai Tennis Championships

Updated 03 March 2024

Ugo Humbert dominates Alexander Bublik to claim glory at 32nd Dubai Tennis Championships

  • French No. 5 seed dispatches 7th seeded Kazakh 6-4, 6-3 to win 6th career title
  • Tallon Griekspoor, Jan-Lennard Struff claim men’s doubles title with 6-4, 4-6, 10-6 victory over Ivan Dodig, Austin Krajicek

Dubai: Ugo Humbert produced a ruthless masterclass to defeat Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik in straight sets and seal ATP 500 victory in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The French No. 5 seed, who rose to a career-high world No. 14 after his heroics in Dubai, made it a clean sweep of six titles in six ATP finals with a clinical 6-4, 6-3 dismantling of No. 7 seed Bublik, the world No. 19, in front of a capacity Center Court crowd at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

Humbert, who defeated compatriot Gael Monfils, Britain’s Andy Murray, world No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz, and world No. 4 Daniil Medvedev to reach the final, unleashed his full repertoire of booming forehands and laser-like double-handed backhands to eclipse Bublik, who progressed past 2022 Dubai champion Andrey Rublev in a dramatic semi-final, which saw the No. 2 seed disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct.

After tight opening exchanges where the pair were evenly matched, the final stayed on-serve until the 10th game when Humbert, who had failed to convert break points in Bublik’s two previous service games, finally broke the Kazakh’s resistance to clinch the first set 6-4.

With Bublik delighting the Dubai crowd with a combination of whipped forehands and a deft array of dropshots, Humbert, relaxed and controlled, raced into a 3-1 second set lead after breaking Bublik. From there, the 25-year-old left-hander relied on his own dominant serve – unbroken throughout the final – to close out the match on his second championship point.

Humbert, who claimed the winner’s prize of $550,140, said: “I played a fantastic level all through the week, but it was not easy. I really don’t know how I stayed calm.

“I have too much respect for (Bublik), he’s such a nice guy on and off the court, and congratulations to him on a great start to the year.”

Bublik said: “This week has had almost everything for me, and I can’t wait to come back here again in 2025.

“Before the final, I thought if I won, I would dedicate it to my son, but sorry, maybe next time,” the 26-year-old, who bagged the runner-up prize of $296,000, added.

In the men’s doubles final, the Netherlands’ Tallon Griekspoor and Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff narrowly defeated Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and the US’ Austin Krajicek 6-4, 4-6, 10-6.

With a pair of service breaks enough to settle the opening two sets, Griekspoor and Struff came from 1-3 down in the deciding super tiebreak, winning nine of the last 12 points to claim a maiden Dubai title and a share of the $180,700 prize pool. Beaten finalists Dodig and Krajicek split a runners-up purse of $96,370.

After the match, Griekspoor said: “It’s the first time we’ve played together, so maybe we should keep it one week. We played really well and had a great time; it was a lot of fun on court. I had such a pleasure on court this week.”

Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said: “This magical evening has provided a fitting end to a memorable Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships fortnight. We have seen crowds of over 45,000-plus revel in match after match of wonderful tennis during the men’s ATP 500 week.

“Our congratulations go to the 2024 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships winners, men’s singles champion, Ugo Humbert, and our doubles champions, Tallon Griekspoor and Jan-Lennard Struff – all truly worthy winners.

Ramesh Cidambi, chief operating officer of Dubai Duty Free and chairman of the tournament organizing committee, said: “This year’s ATP 500 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has, once again, exceeded our expectations with a week of scintillating tennis, unbelievable moments on and off court, and enthusiastic grandstands.

“Thank you to all the players, officials, and fans who have contributed to the runaway success of the 32nd Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. We look forward to welcoming you back to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium in 12 months’ time.”

Aussie Alex de Minaur repeats as ATP Acapulco champion

Updated 03 March 2024

Aussie Alex de Minaur repeats as ATP Acapulco champion

  • The 25-year-old from Sydney captured his eighth career ATP title after dropping four straight finals since downing American Tommy Paul in last year’s final, the most recent last month at Rotterdam

MEXICO CITY: Australia’s Alex de Minaur won his second consecutive ATP Mexican Open title on Saturday, defeating Norway’s Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4 in the final at Acapulco.

The 25-year-old from Sydney captured his eighth career ATP title after dropping four straight finals since downing American Tommy Paul in last year’s final, the most recent last month at Rotterdam.

World No. 9 de Minaur, a two-time winner also at Atlanta, dispatched 11th-ranked Ruud after one hour and 57 minutes, improving to 2-0 against his European foe after winning their only prior meeting at the 2019 ATP NextGen Finals.

Ruud, a two-time French Open runner-up and the 2022 US Open runner-up, missed out on his 11th ATP title for the second week in a row after dropping last week’s final at Los Cabos to another Aussie, Jordan Thompson.

Ruud’s most recent ATP crown came last April at Estoril.

The players exchanged praise after the match, Ruud telling de Minaur: “Fantastic playing all week. Too good today. Seems like you are enjoying Acapulco quite well. You did a great job.”

De Minaur replied, “Great stuff. It was hard work. Thank you for a great match.”

Rublev defaulted and defending champ Medvedev knocked out in Dubai semifinals

Updated 02 March 2024

Rublev defaulted and defending champ Medvedev knocked out in Dubai semifinals

  • Second-seeded Russian yells in the face of a line judge, gets defaulted for unsportsmanlike conduct

DUBAI: Andrey Rublev was defaulted from his semifinal at the Dubai Championships for yelling in the face of a line judge, allowing Alexander Bublik to advance to the final on Friday.
Also, defending champion Daniil Medvedev was knocked out in the other semi by Ugo Humbert 7-5, 6-3.
The second-seeded Rublev erupted after Bublik won a point to take a 6-5 lead in the deciding set.
The Russian, who is ranked No. 5, immediately pointed to the baseline, walked to the line judge, leaned over and shouted in his face.
ATP supervisor Roland Herfel came to the court accompanied by a Russian speaker, who said Rublev swore in his native language.
Rublev responded: “I was talking to him in English.” He insisted he did not use profanity.
But umpire Miriam Bley defaulted Rublev for unsportsmanlike conduct, after which the seventh-seeded Bublik said “I’m OK to continue” with the match.
Bublik won 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-5.
Rublev won the hard-court tournament in 2022 but lost to Medvedev in last year’s final.
The No. 4-ranked Medvedev was undone by Humbert for the third time in four matchups. Humbert was aggressive, and his left-handed serve sent the Russian top seed wide to open up the court.
“I played the perfect match today,” Humbert said.
The Frenchman’s confidence has been high since he won the Marseille title three weeks ago. That was his was fifth career title. He’s never lost a final.
The big-serving Bublik is looking for his fifth singles title. The Kazakh player won Montpellier last month.

De Minaur beats Tsitsipas at last to reach Acapulco semifinals

Updated 01 March 2024

De Minaur beats Tsitsipas at last to reach Acapulco semifinals

  • The other semifinal will pit second-seeded Holger Rune of Denmark against sixth-seeded Casper Ruud of Norway

MEXICO CITY: Defending champion Alex de Minaur beat Stefanos Tsitsipas for the first time to reach the semifinals of the ATP hardcourt tournament in Acapulco, Mexico on Thursday.

Australia’s De Minaur had come up empty in 10 prior meetings against Tsitsipas and it looked like more of the same when the Greek raced through the first set 6-1.

But third-seeded De Minaur, coming off a runner-up finish to Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner in Rotterdam, fought back for a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory and booked a last-four clash with Britain’s Jack Draper.

“Every time I’ve got to play him I get reminded about my (record in the) matchup,” De Minaur said. “I’m glad I got one on the board.”

Tsitsipas, seeded fifth, broke De Minaur three times in rolling through the first set.

The Australian came out on top in an exchange of five service breaks in the second set and saved the only break point he faced in the third.

“I would like to say that no one beats me 11 times in a row, but hey, Stefanos has had my number for a very long time, so I’m glad I was able to get one back,” De Minaur said.

Draper, 22, cruised past Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2, 6-2 to seal his place in the last four.

The other semifinal will pit second-seeded Holger Rune of Denmark against sixth-seeded Casper Ruud of Norway.

Rune defeated Germany’s Dominik Koepfer 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/0) to reach the semifinals for the second year in a row.

Ruud rallied from a set down to beat American Ben Shelton 6-7 (7/9), 6-4, 6-4.

Medvedev wins to set up Dubai Tennis Championships semifinal with Humbert

Updated 01 March 2024

Medvedev wins to set up Dubai Tennis Championships semifinal with Humbert

  • Reigning champion beat Davidovich Fokina at Dubai Tennis Stadium to take one step closer to emulating Federer’s 2015 feat
  • No. 5 seed Ugo Humbert beat Hurkacz to book place in final 4, while 2022 winner Andrey Rublev also progressed

DUBAI: Daniil Medvedev booked his place in the semifinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Thursday night following a comfortable win over Alejando Davidovich Fokina 6-2, 6-3.

The victory saw the world No. 4 extend his winning streak to eight at the Dubai Tennis Stadium and took him one step closer to becoming the first male since Roger Federer in 2015 to successfully defend the Dubai title.

Medvedev, into his sixth semifinal in his last eight events, was at times sublime under the lights of center court, breaking his Spanish opponent’s serve four times during the 77-minute tie, and displaying an impressive repertoire of booming forehands, angled slices, and unreachable drop shots. He struck 15 winners and committed just six unforced errors.

And even when he was not perfect, he had Lady Luck on his side.

Struggling with the wind in the fifth game of the first set, he found himself in a triple breakpoint hole. He saved all three, with the help of an accommodating net cord as his backhand hit the tape and fell on his opponent’s side. It was not the only time in the match when he benefited from the cord.

“I think it happened four times,” said Medvedev who is the first top seed to reach the final four in Dubai since Novak Djokovic in 2020. “I definitely got lucky. There was one more that touched the net for him and went on his side. Sometimes it happens. At one moment in the second set, I was like: ‘Wow, I’m almost doing it on purpose.’ But I wasn’t. Definitely a little bit lucky. I don’t remember another day where it would be four times, but that’s how tennis is sometimes. Today I got lucky. Next time it could be him.”

Medvedev, winner of 20 ATP events, is looking to defend a title for the first time in his career. He will face France’s Ugo Humbert, who defeated Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 7-6 (8), 6-3. Hurkacz enjoyed a dominant start to the match, winning 15 of 16 first-serve points and remaining unbroken throughout the first set, as Humbert struggled to find answers for an average first serve speed of 204 kph from the world No. 8.

The second set saw a change of momentum, however, as a defiant Humbert broke Hurkacz’s serve for the first time in the match to take a 3-1 lead, although the favor was immediately returned by the No. 3 seed who broke back and was eventually forced to contest his fifth tiebreak of the tournament. Twenty-five-year-old Hubert edged it 10-8.

An early break in the third set made for a much-needed one-game cushion throughout the set for Humbert, which he capitalized on, holding serve and breaking the Pole once more to seal the set 6-3. The world No. 18 can be confident against Medvedev, whom he leads 2-1 head-to-head. “It will be a great challenge against Daniil,” he said. “We played a couple of times and they were great games. I need to rest a little bit, but then I’ll be ready to go again.”

Last year’s defeated finalist Andrey Rublev, meanwhile, is also through to the final four after his quarterfinal opponent Sebastian Korda retired through injury in the second set with the score at 6-4, 4-3. Former champion Rublev, who is looking to reach a third successive final in Dubai, did not look in complete control during his early exchanges with Korda as difficult conditions affected both players.

Korda was bidding to reach the semifinals of the competition, 25 years after his father Petr last appeared in Dubai. Speaking after the match, Rublev expressed sympathy for the 23-year-old American, who was making his debut at Dubai’s ATP 500 tournament. “When it’s these kinds of conditions, the tennis is always not that beautiful,” said the No. 2 seed.

“You need to find a way. You must accept that this is the way it is today. Sometimes today I was lucky as well because of those conditions. In important moments, the ball moved because of the wind and he couldn’t play well. It helped me a lot today.

“In the end, of course, you never want to finish in that way. All I can say is I hope there is nothing serious with Sebastian and he will be ready for Indian Wells 100 percent.”

Rublev’s next hurdle meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, moved into the top 20 for the first time in his career with a 4-6, 1-4 victory after opponent Jiri Lehecka was forced to retire through injury in the second set.