The Czech, who entered the tournament without being among the seeded, completed a dream tournament by beating Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets. He won the title in Paris in just his fifth participation in a ‘big’ tennis tournament. After obtaining the trophy, he remembered his former coach Jana Novotna, who died in 2017.
In a tournament full of surprises, no one could take away Barbora Krejcikova’s illusion. The 25-year-old Czech arrived in Paris without being among the seeded and with only 4 previous appearances in the main singles draw at Grand Slam tournaments.
But lately, in the women’s branch, Roland Garros has become used to consecrating rookie champions and the closest antecedent, the title of the Polish Iga Swiatek in 2020, was an invitation to dream.
Even more so if one considers that Krejcikova arrived at the French Open in 33rd place in the world ranking, the best position of her career up to that moment, and with the title of the WTA of Strasbourg – the last one before Roland Garros and the first of her Singles race – under the arm.
In silence, she built a solid route in the Parisian clay, leaving behind – among others – a candidate like the Swedish Elina Svitolina, a former finalist like the American Sloane Stephens and, in the semifinals, the Greek Maria Sakkari, who was coming to eliminate the last champion Swiatek.
This Saturday, June 12, on a sunny Philippe Chatrier track, Krejcikova took a changing duel against Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (31st seeded) 6-1, 2-6 and 6-4 in just under two hours.
Pavlyuchenkova opened the match with a break that seemed to anticipate a more encouraging development than she actually was in that opening set. Krejcikova prevailed with a wide variety of shots, stringing together six straight games to win the opening set.
The Russian responded more aggressively in the second set and went up fast 5-1. At the time, a sore thigh when he was 5-2 forced him to receive medical attention on the court. But that did not prevent him from taking the serve of the Czech to close the second set in his favor.
In the decisive round, the level of both players rose and they responded fiercely in the exchanges. With the coin in the air after a service break to the side, Krejcikova stepped forward, took the Russian’s serve and kept hers to go 5-3.
The Czech wasted two match points in the ninth game, when the Russian served, and gave up another chance to close the match by committing a double fault at 5-4. However, a long setback from Pavlyuchenkova allowed her to close that heat and become the sixth consecutive unprecedented champion of Roland Garros, another example of the unpredictability prevailing on the women’s circuit.
The memory of his former coach Jana Novotna after the consecration
With her title, Krejcikova became only the second Czech tennis player to win in Paris. The only previous success went to Hana Mandlikova in 1981, representing the former Czechoslovakia.
Just after the match and after greeting her opponent, Krejcikova remembered her former coach, Jana Novotna, Wimbledon champion in 1998, who died of cancer at age 49 in 2017.
“Almost his last words were simply ‘enjoy and try to win a Grand Slam.’ I know that, from somewhere, she is taking care of me, ”Krejcikova said to the 5,000 people present at the Philippe Chatrier, with limited capacity due to the pandemic.
“All this that just happened, these two weeks, is basically because she is taking care of me from there,” Krejcikova added, raising her left hand to the sky.
“It was amazing that I had the opportunity to meet her and that she became such a great inspiration to me. I really miss her. But I hope she’s happy right now. I’m very happy, “he said.
The excitement was complete after receiving the Suzanne Lenglen Cup – as the Roland Garros women’s trophy is called – from the hands of another legend, the Czech-American Martina Navratilova, winner of 18 Grand Slam titles.
But the action in Paris did not end for Krejcikova. This Sunday, June 13, she will look for the trophy in the women’s doubles with her compatriot Katerina Siniakova. The pair, second favorite of the contest, will face the pair of the Polish Iga Swiatek and the American Bethanie Mattek-Sands (14th seeded). If she wins, Krejcikova will be the first woman to achieve double recognition at the same Roland Garros since Mary Pierce did it in 2000.
French joy came in the men’s doubles
For French tennis, this Roland Garros was historic, but for the wrong reasons. For the first time in its history, France did not have tennis players in the third round of the singles draws, both male and female.
With such a degree of frustration, which put a power in this sport under question, the consolation came in the men’s doubles, with the consecration of Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
The French duo came back from an unfavorable start and took a tough battle against Kazakhs Alexander Bublik and Andrey Golubev 4-6, 7-6 (1) and 6-4, in two hours and 11 minutes.
With their victory, Mahut and Herbert won Roland Garros for the second time, something unprecedented for French tennis since World War II. In addition, together they have conquered the US Open in 2015, Wimbledon in 2016 and the Australian Open in 2019, as well as 7 of the 9 Masters 1,000 and the ATP Finals.
With EFE, AP and Reuters