MIAMI, Fla. – Karolina Muchova, whose all-around game is a treat for tennis purists, has been out since last year’s US Open and ailing for much longer than that.
An abdominal injury, and some compensating back issues, have proven frustrating to resolve going all the way back to the 2021 Australian Open.
But she finally returned this week at the Miami Open. Even if she was surprised she actually made it.
And after taking care of countrywoman Tereza Martincova in the first round, she ran up against No. 18 seed Leylah Fernandez of Canada on a steamy day Thursday.
In a match that was impressive for its court craft despite a serious wind (and the heat), Muchova came through that, too.
There were nerves – the 25-year-old served for the match twice in the second set, and was broken both times before taking the tiebreak.
It took two hours, 13 minutes to finish it off 6-4, 7-6 (3).
And she was sore all over when she awoke Thursday before the Fernandez match, after the win over Martincova.
But Muchova’s game has been missed. And she was just getting started when she was one of a seeming legion of players on both the men’s and women’s tours to miss significant time with injury.
Here’s what she told Open Court after the win over Fernandez.
The reward: Naomi Osaka
Muchova was then scheduled to meet former No. 1 Naomi Osaka in the third round on Saturday.
But the effort of the first two matches was too much for Muchova, whose ab has been good but whose back reportedly has been acting up.
And so she gave Osaka a walkover Saturday.
This is not the same Osaka as in 2020 (she won the US Open a few weeks later). But she looked good in her first two matches: 6-3, 6-4 over Aussie Astra Sharma on Wednesday, then 6-2, 6-3 in exactly an hour over fellow former No. 1 Angelique Kerber on Thursday.
But now she has a free pass to the fourth round. Who knows what she can do from there.
Flashback to Thursday, when Muchova mostly spent the changeovers like this.