Muchova downs Sabalenka again to make Western & Southern Open final

Karolina Muchova has again beaten Aryna Sabalenka in three sets, defeating the Belarusian in the Western & Southern Open semi-finals to book a spot in the final against Coco Gauff tomorrow

Muchova Cincinnati 2023 Credit: Panoramic

For the second time this year, Czech Karolina Muchova has defeated Aryna Sabalenka in three sets, knocking the No 2 seed out of the Western & Southern Open and booking her own spot in the final on Sunday with a 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-2 win.

With Muchova pulling off one of the all-time great comebacks against Sabalenka in the Roland-Garros semi-finals in May, their Cincinnati semi-final was being billed as an opportunity for the Belarusian to gain revenge on a surface that suited her game better.

However, it was Muchova who took full advantage of the hard courts, serving brilliantly to come back from a 1-0 set deficit and set a match up with 19-year-old Coco Gauff in tomorrow’s final.

Sabalenka battles her way to messy first set win

It was Aryna Sabalenka who grabbed ascendancy in this semi-final first, breaking Karolina Muchova’s serve to race out to a 4-1 lead in the first set.

The big-hitting Czech, who entered this match having struck 588 winners in WTA 1000 matches this year, quickly powered her way back into the set however, winning four games on the trot to go ahead 5-4.

After Muchova again dropped serve, the set headed towards a deserving tiebreak. Muchova had her chances to win the breaker, going up 3-1, but ultimately Sabalenka held her nerve to win 7-4 and go up one set to love after 71 minutes.

Muchova dominant on serve across second and third sets

Having gone the distance in her opening three matches of the Western & Southern Open, Muchova benefited from the retirement of Marie Bouzkova just three games into yesterday’s quarter-final. Perhaps this additional rest benefited the 26-year-old, as she came out firing against Sabalenka in the final two sets on Saturday.

After being broken twice in the first set, Muchova would not face another break point at all in the second and third sets.

The Czech player landed 75 percent of first serves in the second set, winning 89 percent of the time and holding all five of her service games while breaking Sabalenka’s serve once. In the third, her stats were similar, making 65 percent of first serves, winning 80 percent of those points, and breaking Sabalenka on two separate occasions.

The win sees Muchova make her first WTA 1000 final, and guarantees she’ll move into the top 10 for the first time in her career, regardless of how the Western & Southern Open final goes tomorrow against Coco Gauff.

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