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Muchova tops Sakkari in French Open second round

Karolina Muchova’s comeback is gaining steam at the French Open. The former Top 20 Czech knocked out 2021 semifinalist and No.4 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece in Wednesday’s second round, 7-6(5), 7-6(4). Sakkari is the fifth Top 10 seed to be sent home from Paris in the tournament’s first three days.

Former World No.19 Muchova came to Paris ranked No.81 after a stop-and-start seven months due to an abdominal injury. Roland Garros marks her fourth tournament since last summer’s US Open, and this is her second time winning back-to-back matches in those events. She previously beat French wildcard Carole Monnet, a 20-year-old ranked No.253, in Round 1. 

“[It’s a] very special win against a very tough opponent on clay, so I really appreciated that I was able to finish it in two sets, that I had a great finish to both of the sets.”

– Karolina Muchova

Muchova’s sixth career Top 10 win didn’t come easily. She needed eight set points to win the opener, where Sakkari leveled from 5-2 down, and she was twice an early break ahead in the second set. Four of those six Top 10 wins have now come against players ranked No. 5 or higher. 

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“She played an amazing match,” Sakkari said afterward. “She always plays extremely well in Grand Slams and today she was the better player, so I have to give it to her.

“It’s disappointing for sure because it still, it still is my favorite tournament and I’m sad. But at the same time there were a lot of positives today because I found myself again in the court. I’m feeling good. I’m fighting. I’m enjoying my time on the court so I think that great things are going to happen soon.

“I knew that I wanted to do well, but things are different every year and we have seen so many upsets, and so many upsets all these years, like in tournaments of [this] level, you always have to accept that you cannot go deep every single tournament or every single big tournament.”

Muchova is through to a third round meeting with No.27 seed Amanda Anisimova, another former semifinalist in Paris. The American reached the final four in 2019 as a 17-year-old and moved through to the last 32 with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Donna Vekic.

Vekic, another former Top 20 player on the way back from an injury hiatus, had to qualify to reach the main draw. 

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While Anisimova and Coco Gauff won in straights, Sloane Stephens had the most impressive effort on the day by the Americans.

Trailing No.26 seed Sorana Cirstea by a set and a break, the 2017 US Open champion won 12 straight games to reach Round 3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0. It was the pair’s first meeting in nine years.

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Former finalist Stephens arrived in Paris on a five-match losing streak, including a loss to then-World No.306 Nefisa Berberovic last week in Strasbourg. She’s come from a set down in each of her first two matches, earning her consecutive wins for the first time since she won the WTA 250 event in Guadalajara, Mexico in February.

Another Grand Slam champion had less success at the end of the day, as Australian wildcard Daria Saville eliminated two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-2. Kvitova was seeded No.32 but lost to Saville for the third time in their six career meetings.


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