Two-time and defending French Open champion Iga Swiatek will battle for Roland-Garros superiority for the third time on Saturday afternoon, as the world number one meets Karolina Muchova in the women's singles final.
Locking horns with the first-ever Brazilian woman to reach the French Open semi-finals in the Open Era, Swiatek got off to a horror start on Thursday as she lost her serve in the opening game, but the 22-year-old soon composed herself to silence the hitherto raucous South American support in the stands.
The reigning Roland-Garros champion closed out a 6-2 7-6 win in two hours and 10 minutes on Thursday, taking four games on the spin to take the first set before Haddad Maia once again failed to build on an early break in the second, and she was powerless to stop Swiatek's cross-court forehand in the dying embers.
Swiatek saved one set point in the tie-breaker before sealing the deal on her second match point, meaning that the powerful Pole is still yet to drop a set en route to the 2023 final, but she was certainly forced to survive a few scares against the trailblazing Haddad Maia en route to an 18th WTA Tour final.
Of all the female players to have won at least 15 Grand Slam matches in the Open Era, Swiatek's victorious French Open ratio of 93.2% percent is the third-highest, only behind Margaret Court's 95.2% at Roland-Garros and 95.5% at the Australian Open, and she has triumphed in 13 of her previous 17 WTA Tour finals.
The 22-year-old owes Muchova a token of gratitude, though, as the latter's defeat of Sabalenka in the semi-finals means that Swiatek will end the tournament still leading the way as world number one, but such pleasantries will soon cease on the clay.
Prior to the 2023 French Open, Muchova had never even progressed beyond the third round of the Grand Slam tournament, but the unseeded 26-year-old will now vie for glory in a major final for the very first time in her disrupted career.
From a shock first-round win over Maria Sakkari to ending the magical run of Elina Svitolina in the last eight, Muchova more than earned a semi-final date with US Open champion Sabalenka in Thursday's opening encounter, which went on for three hours and 13 minutes before the Czech recorded an astonishing 7-6 6-7 7-5 victory.
The writing appeared to be on the wall for Muchova in the third set, as the 26-year-old was visibly struggling and down a match point at 2-5, but thanks to an inexplicable succession of unforced errors from Sabalenka - 52 in total - Muchova completed an incredible fightback to reach her maiden Grand Slam final.
The world number 43's previous best showing at a major was a run to the semi-finals of the 2021 Australian Open, and by overcoming Sabalenka, she continued her remarkable 100% winning record against top-three ranked players, which now stands at five victories from five matches.
Coincidentally, Muchova is one of just three female players ranked outside of the top 40 to have reached the French Open final - 2020 Swiatek was one of the other two alongside 2017 Jelena Ostapenko - but her perfect streak against the world's best players will be tested to the limit and then some on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Tournament so far
First round: vs. Cristina Bucsa 6-4 6-0
Second round: Claire Liu 6-4 6-0
Third round: Wang Xinyu 6-0 6-0
Round of 16: vs. Lesia Tsurenko 5-1 ret
Quarter-final: vs. Coco Gauff 6-4 6-2
Semi-final: vs. Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2 7-6
First round: vs. Maria Sakkari 7-6 7-5
Second round: vs. Nadia Podoroska 6-3 0-6 6-3
Third round: vs. Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3 6-2
Round of 16: vs. Elina Avanesyan 6-4 6-3
Quarter-final: vs. Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-4
Semi-final: vs. Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 6-7 7-5
Head To Head
Prague Open (2019) - First round: Muchova wins 4-6 6-1 6-4
When a teenage Swiatek was beginning to make waves on the WTA circuit, the Pole stormed through the qualifying rounds at the 2019 Prague Open to set up a first-round affair with Muchova, who entered as a wildcard.
Swiatek took the first set against Muchova in their maiden meeting, but the Czech's experience proved decisive from thereon in, as she succeeded 4-6 6-1 6-4 thanks to seven breaks from 15 attempts.
The pair have not locked horns competitively on the WTA circuit since, but they were reunited in the 2020 Czech Elite Cup, where Muchova once again prevailed in three sets courtesy of a 6-4 2-6 10-8 beating.
We say: Iga Swiatek to win in two sets
Few expected a beleaguered Muchova to fight back in the sensational manner that she did against Sabalenka, but she benefitted from a catalogue of mistakes from the world number two, luxuries that she will surely not be afforded against Swiatek.
The Czech was not in a good way during the third set of her semi-final either, and while her record against top-three players speaks for itself, we cannot see a way for Muchova to prevent a ruthless Swiatek from clinching a third French Open honour.