With Roland Garros wrapping up over the weekend, there were some amazing stories to emerge on the women’s side of the tournament.
While the world’s best, Iga Świątek, lifted the trophy as many predicted, there were some surprise runs and shock upsets along the way.
Here are my biggest takeaways from the 2023 French Open, on the women’s side.
Karolina Muchová is the Most Complete Player on Tour
While Karolina Muchová’s run to the 2023 Roland Garros final may not be a surprise to some, it will be to most.
The Czech player went largely under the radar in the lead-up to the tournament, with all the focus on Świątek, Sabalenka and Rybakina as the in-form clay court players.
Notching up a solid first round win over world number 8, Maria Sakkari, Karolina then went on a solid run to the final, beating world number 2, Aryna Sabalenka, along the way. What was more impressive was her fighting spirit, coming back from 5-2 down in the third set and facing a match point on the way to victory.
This fighting spirit continued into the final against world number 1, Iga Świątek. Down a set and 3-0 in the second, Muchová rallied to win the second set and was up 2-0 in the decider before nerves got the better of her.
In her speech during the trophy presentation, Iga complimented Karolina’s “variety”, while Mats Wilander went a step further, saying she is one of, “the most complete tennis players in the world.”
And rightly so.
The 26-year old possesses powerful groundstrokes from both wings, as well as the ability to mix up the pace and shorten points, with her potent slice backhand and world-class vollying. Muchová’s fast, aggressive game will particularly suit the hallowed grass courts at Wimbledon.
At 16 in the world, Muchová is now back inside the top 20 for the first time since 2021 and looks set to have a great second half of the season.
The Emergence of Beatriz Haddad Maia
Already a doubles specialist with 5 WTA titles, Beatriz Haddad Maia is emerging as a serious threat on the singles tour. Her semi-final appearance at this year’s Roland Garros is her best showing at a Grand Slam yet, having not gone past the second round before.
Losing to eventual winner, Świątek, the Brazilian was gritty and determined throughout, winning four tight 3-set matches in a row, three of which were from a set down. This included solid wins over tricky opponents such as Alexandrova, Sorribes Tormo and particularly world number 7, Ons Jabeur.
Like Muchová, Haddad Maia has an all-court game and likes to come to the net. Her big serve and aggressive, lefty forehand caused headaches for her opponents, while she also made her presence felt at the net, with her 6 foot 1 wingspan and deft touch.
The 27-year old Haddad Maia will now enter the top 10 for the first time in her career, holding the rare distinction of being both a top 10 singles and doubles player.
Mirra Andreeva Announces Herself
At the tender age of 16 years of age, Mirra Andreeva is already emerging as the next big talent on the women’s tour.
Ranked 143 before the French Open started, the young Russian had to make her way through the qualifiers to enter the main draw.
Upon qualifying, Andreeva looked right at home in her opening two rounds, notching up fairly comfortable wins over Alison Riske and Diane Perry. She then succumbed to world number 6, Coco Gauf in the third round, but not before winning the first set and taking it up to the young American star.
In her own words, Andreeva describes her game style as like ‘Ons Jabeur,’ in that she likes to change the rhythm and pace of her shots. No more so was this evident, than in her match against the aggressive game of Coco Gauf. Andreeva was able to neutralise Gauf’s bruising groundstrokes with consistent depth and heavy topspin to force errors off the American’s racquet.
Mirra also has an older sister, Erika, who she compares to ‘Iga Świątek’. While it may be too early to tell, we could very well have another exciting sister duo on the women’s tour.
One thing’s for sure though, Mirra Andreeva has a bright future ahead of herself.
Variety is Back in the Women’s Game
Before Ash Barty bowed out of the game, many opponents were bamboozled by her all-court game, particularly her terrific slice backhand.
After the Australian retired, many were wondering who would take up her mantle. No one in the women’s game was really doing what Barty was doing.
Sure, Świątek has gone on to largely dominate women’s tennis, but the competition appears to be closing the gap.
With players like Haddad Maia, Jabeur and Muchová all having strong runs at Roland Garros, it seems more players with variety in their game are having success on the women’s tour.
With Wimbledon coming up in a matter of weeks, possessing an all-court game with variety may prove to be the key ingredient to success.
Iga Świątek is Still The Player to Beat on Clay
Despite all of the upsets and up-and-coming players to emerge from 2023’s Roland Garros, one thing is abundantly clear: Iga Świątek is still the best clay court player in the women’s game.
While Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina each had success at the WTA 1000 level, Świątek proved why she is the player to beat on clay, winning back-to-back French Opens.
The Polish star has a match winning percentage of 93% at the French Open, which is remarkable when you consider she’s only 22.
Indeed, Iga has proved to be solid on all surfaces, with the notable exception of grass.
If she can learn how to adapt her game to the quick grass courts of Wimbledon, Świątek may yet continue to dominate women’s tennis.