Tuesday night’s historic all-American (and all-African American) men’s US Open quarterfinal showdown between Ben Shelton and No. 10 seed Frances Tiafoe served to celebrate a return to dominance for the American men. More quietly, however, the preceding match during the night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium quietly celebrated another country’s dominance.
When Karolina Muchova, herself a No. 10 seed, made quick work of 30th-seeded Romanian veteran Sorana Cirstea in a 6-0 6-3 win, she secured a spot in the semifinals and provided yet another highlight in what has been a memorable 2023 for the women of Czechia.
For Muchova, the victory over Cirstea marked her second trip to the final four of a Grand Slam this season. At the French Open, the unseeded 27-year-old knocked off No. 8 Maria Sakkari in the first round and outlasted No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka in a dramatic semifinal to reach her first Major final. Facing world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, she became the only player to take a set of the Polish superstar all tournament before falling in three sets.
One month later, Marketa Vondrousova did Muchova one better by completing a stunning, historic journey to the Wimbledon women’s singles title. The first unseeded woman to win Wimbledon in the Open Era, Vondrousova took out the likes of No. 4 seed Jessica Pegula, No. 12 Veronika Kudermetova, and wild card sensation Elina Svitolina before toppling No. 6 seed Ons Jabeur for her first Slam crown.
The No. 9 seed in New York, Vondrousova will look to carve out her own semifinal slot Wednesday night when she battles No. 17 Madison Keys.
More Czech Success
Still, Czech success on the WTA Tour this year extends beyond the country’s two Top 10 representatives. With neither Muchova or Vondrousova advancing to the second week of the Australian Open at the start of the year, Karolina Pliskova gave Czechia a quarter-final representative and Barbora Krejcikova reached the round of 16. Outside of the Majors, Krejcikova, Petra Kvitova, and Katerina Siniakova all earned WTA titles in 2023.
All told, Czechia was represented by ten women in this year’s US Open singles draw, including six seeded players and five who won at least a match at the event. Unsurprisingly, this surge has also made its mark in the rankings. The country boasts a remarkable four players among the current top-12 in the world and nine in the Top 50. And that doesn’t include the doubles rankings, where Siniakova and Krejcikova currently occupy the No.s 1 and 2 spots, respectively.
Czechia has long been a hotbed for women’s tennis, dating all the way back to the days of Martina Navratilova. The 11-time Billie Jean King Cup champions won the prestigious international team competition a whopping six times between 2011 and 2018 (they reached the semifinals last year). Now, thanks to Muchova, Vondrousova and a host of others, the country’s depth of talent and elite performance level is fully on display.
Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports