French Open 2023: Iga Świątek adds to already impressive legacy with hard-fought title win over Karolína Muchová

Iga Świątek once again proved she's the best women's player in the game with another French Open title. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Iga Świątek once again proved she's the best women's player in the game with another French Open title. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Iga Świątek charged into the 2023 French Open as the No. 1 ranked women's player in the world and didn't disappoint. Świątek showed resilience Saturday, defeating Karolína Muchová in the French Open final (6-2, 5-7, 6-4).

This is familiar territory for Świątek, 22, who won the French Open in 2020 and 2022. It's her fourth Grand Slam title overall.

All of Świątek's skills were on display early in Saturday's final. Świątek’s secret weapon is her readiness. When a match begins, she’s always there mentally and physically. No fighting back nerves, no getting into it, she’s instantly in competition mode. And at the start of Saturday's match, she was at her best. She dictated the pace, dominating with power and a calm patience that was almost unnerving.

It was mostly smooth sailing for Świątek in the first set. While she struggled early in the match at the net, losing her first four net points, she wasn't really threatened. Muchová took two games off Świątek in the first set, but couldn't keep up once Świątek found her groove.

The second set didn't go as smoothly for Świątek. After getting out to an early lead, it looked as if Świątek would run away with the win. But Muchová rallied with her back against the wall, winning three games and tying the set 3-3. Świątek appeared to get back on track in the next game, not allowing Muchová to register a single point. Muchová wasn't rattled by that, and took the next game to tie things at 4-4.

After taking the next game, Muchová was in line to take the first set off Świątek throughout the entire event. In the run-up to the final, Świątek had not dropped a single set at the 2023 French Open. Beatriz Haddad Maia took Świątek the furthest, forcing a tiebreak in the second set, but Świątek came out on top.

Muchová put an end to that streak. She took the first set off Świątek in the tournament thanks to some athletic and fantastic shots.

It was the first set Świątek dropped in a Grand Slam final. After winning the first set over Muchová on Saturday, Świątek was 7-0 in Grand Slam final sets.

Muchová's momentum carried over into the third set. She took the first two games off Świątek, who seemed visibly flustered and frustrated. Muchová, who had upset so many highly ranked women on her run to the final, looked poised to claim yet another impressive upset.

Świątek refused to go out like that. She rediscovered her groove in the third set, taking three straight games off Muchová to take the lead. Muchová, as she did the entire match, battled back to tie things 3-3.

With the set tied 4-4, Świątek put herself in position to win the match. Unforced errors by Muchová resulted in Świątek taking a 5-4 lead. She was a game away from winning the match.

Świątek delivered in the final game, rallying to take a lead over Muchová. With Świątek a point away from the victory, Muchová double-faulted, giving Świątek to win.

She broke down in tears on the court following the victory.

With the win, Świątek became the youngest woman since Serena Williams to win four Grand Slam titles.

Iga Świątek continues to build impressive legacy

Świątek’s run at the French Open should launch her into the conversation as one of the best athletes in the world. She broke through so suddenly, and ascended so quickly, that it almost feels like she’s still new. But she’s been here for years, dominating not just on clay but on hard courts as well. She’s the real deal, no matter where she is or who she faces.

And there is no doubt now that she’s the reigning queen of clay. It took Serena Williams over a decade to win three French Open titles. Świątek has done it in just four years. The last time the Roland Garros women’s singles was so dominated by one person was from 2005 to 2007, when Justine Henin won three in a row.

Karolína Muchová slayed giants on her run to the French Open final

Though Muchová didn’t win, making it to the finals at Roland Garros is a kind of redemption most players wouldn’t even dare to dream of. Just a year after leaving the French Open in tears after rolling her ankle, after dealing with injuries that took her out of commission for parts of the past two years, Muchova took out the Nos. 8 and 2 players in the world on her way to a final against the No. 1 player in the world.

She nearly pulled off the win against Świątek on Saturday, pushing the women's No. 1 to her limit. While Muchová, 26, did not win the event, this was her coming-out party. Her performance against Świątek proved there was nothing fluky about those early upsets. She came up short Saturday, but will be a player to watch moving forward, especially after taking a set off Świątek.

While Muchová deserved credit for her strong play and tenacity, the day belonged to Świątek, who continued to build on her already impressive legacy. Still just 22, Świątek has her entire career ahead of her. If she's already this good, it's impossible to put a ceiling on what she can accomplish as she continues to grow as a player and competitor.