PARIS — Iga Swiatek built a big lead in the French Open final, then overcame a second-set crisis of confidence and a third-set deficit to defeat Karolina Muchova 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 on Saturday and collect her third championship at Roland Garros and fourth Grand Slam title.
The No. 1-ranked Swiatek 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.
With Swiatek looking out of sorts and seeking advice from her coach between points, Muchova grabbed five of six games on the way to pulling even at a set apiece. Muchova carried that momentum into the deciding set, going ahead 2-0.
That’s when Swiatek returned to her usual brand of crisp, clean tennis, scurrying around the red clay with sublime defense and taking advantage of Muchova’s repeated mistakes. Still, Swiatek again found herself behind by a break twice in the third set before grabbing the last three games.
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.
Muchova, who is ranked 43rd, was participating in a championship match at a Slam for the first time.
And it was quite a debut, 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 start meant little.
As did Muchova’s edges of 2-0 and 4-3 in the third set.