ROEHAMPTON – Who is Karolina Muchova, the 21-year-old Czech who is playing Canadian Genie Bouchard in the second round of Wimbledon qualifying Wednesday?
Many times over the last 24 hours, we’ve heard this: “Who is she? Literally never heard of her.”
Muchova is ranked No. 223 in singles, down from a career high No. 192 in April.
She had a good result at a $60,000 ITF tournament in March in France, on hard courts. Muchova qualified and reached the final, giving her opponent a walkover in that final match.
A year ago at the Surbiton Challenger on grass, she qualified and reached the quarterfinals.
On the Grand Slam scene, this is only her third attempt in the qualifying, and her 6-3, 6-4 win over Ivana Jorovic of Serbia Tuesday was her first win.
Muchova’s junior career was not much to speak of. She played a total of three main-draw match at the ITF level – all of tham in lower-level Grade 4 tournaments.
But here’s the thing: the girl has game.
We happened to pass by her match with Jorovic Tuesday. And all of a sudden this young woman was … serving and volleying on the court. On purpose.
Had she made more first serves, she’d likely have done it even more.
When you see that on the women’s side, you stop and look.
Muchova appeared to hit quite a heavy ball from the baseline, but her willingness to come forward was what stood out. Her slice backhand was a legitimate one, not one of those “Oh God, she sliced me and now I have to slice her back because I don’t know what else to do with that ball” kind of bluffs.
It was the true definition of an all-court game that should work well, especially on grass.
So regardless of her seemingly slow ascent in the rankings, Muchova seems to have been well-taught and has all the elements of a solid game.
Will she be nervous against Bouchard, with the match available on broadcast and stream, and Bouchard’s resumé containing “former Wimbledon finalist”?
She may well be.
We’ll see. She took the court wearing random pieces of white Nike she probably bought in the shop – and shorts! – while her opponent came out with brand-new, perfectly coordinated gear.
As well, Bouchard played a super match in her first-round win over Lin Zhu, and a couple of good ones last week at Birmingham as well.