Karolina Muchova to Face Iga Swiatek in the Women’s French Open Final

For a while last year, the conventional wisdom was that the only player who could beat Swiatek was Swiatek herself. She has spoken of struggling with her nerves and having to force herself to play to win rather than not to lose.

Earlier in the week, after her quarterfinal win over the 19-year-old American Coco Gauff, Swiatek said she often grows calmer as a Grand Slam tournament moves into the later rounds. The early tightness lifts, and she can take a moment to enjoy what she has accomplished.

A Grand Slam final, though, is another matter, and so is Muchova. The two have played just once, four years ago, before either one was the person or the player she is today. For what it’s worth, Muchova won that match in three sets, on clay, in front of a home crowd in Prague when Swiatek was ranked 95th in the world.

The two have practiced together many times since then, said Swiatek, who, like Barty, counts herself among the Muchova faithful. She often finds herself watching Muchova’s matches.

“She can do anything,” Swiatek said.

Their one match may be a sample size too small for drawing any conclusions, but this stat may be more telling: Muchova has played five matches against players ranked in the top three, and she has won every time.

“It just shows me that I can play against them,” she said Thursday. “I can compete.”

Indeed she can. Her competitors have known that for a while now.

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