‘Remarkable’: French Open champ’s meteoric rise

Nine months ago, Barbora Krejcikova sat outside the top 100 on the WTA rankings.

Many tennis pundits considered the Czech star a doubles specialist — she had never played in the main singles draw at Wimbledon or the US Open, but had 11 doubles titles to her name.

However, the 25-year-old stunned the tennis community by clinching her maiden grand slam singles title on Saturday evening, defeating No. 31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 2-6 6-4 in the French Open final.

It was Krejcikova’s 12th consecutive singles victory.

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She will subsequently find herself in 15th spot on the WTA rankings this week, having only cracked the top 50 for the first time in March.

Before the 2021 French Open, Krejcikova boasted career earnings of US$3.5 million — she will collect $1.7 million an extra for her Roland Garros triumph.

Krejcikova dedicated the victory to her mentor, former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna, who died of cancer at age 49 in 2017.

When tennis resumed in August 2020, Barbora Krejcikova was ranked No. 118.

On Monday, she'll be in the @WTA top 20. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/CRBQikGA7H

Barbora Krejčíková has never made it out of qualifying in Wimbledon or Flushing Meadows. She's never been past the second round in Melbourne. Prior to this month, her 4th round appearance last year was her singles high point at Roland Garros.

She's just won the French Open. Wow

Barbora Krejcikova, ranked well outside the Top 100 a year ago, completes a remarkable journey to the pinnacle of the sport, winning the French Open title 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Carrying on the legacy of Jana Novotna, and proving that anything is possible.

“It is hard to put into words because I cannot believe what just happened. I cannot believe I actually won a grand slam,” Krejcikova said.

“I’m extremely happy. It’s a dream come true, for sure.

“I’m just really happy that I was able to handle it as I did, that mentally I think that was the biggest key.

“I spoke with my psychologist again and we spoke about it a lot. I just knew that as soon as I’m going to enter the court, I’m just not going to be panicking anymore.

“Now I was just telling myself, ‘It would be really nice if I can get the grand slam in all three categories’. Now it’s happening. I cannot believe it.”

Incredibly, Krejcikova’s Roland Garros campaign is not over — she will also play alongside Katerina Siniakova in the women’s doubles final tomorrow.

Pavlyuchenkova needed 52 attempts to qualify for her first major final — an Open Era record.

“I want to believe that the best is yet to come, so I think that’s how I should approach the whole situation,” Pavlyuchenkova told reporters after the match.

“Watching my friends at the start (of the trophy ceremony), of course I was close to crying. It’s always sad to lose. But then when I looked at my friends, I think there is much more important stuff in life than sometimes even this trophy.

“I feel loved. I think that’s the best thing you can have is friends and a life outside tennis, as well, which actually even meant more than the trophy today.

“Hopefully, next time if I have a chance to be in the final I’ll handle it better and I’ll be more fresh and I’ll play better. That’s the goal right now.

Barbora Krejcikova with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.Source:Getty Images

How the Roland Garros final unfolded

Krejcikova was broken in her first service game, serving up two double faults.

However, the 29-year-old Pavlyuchenkova was unable to capitalise and dropped the next six games as her Czech opponent grabbed three breaks and raced away with the opener inside half an hour.

Krejcikova was rewarded for her bold attacking, hitting 13 winners to the Russian’s seven.

Pavlyuchenkova, who made her grand slam debut back in 2007, was the more composed player in the second set, stretching out to 5-1.

A medical time-out at 5-2, during which she was seen munching Haribo gummy bears, merely delayed the Russian levelling the final.

In the decider, the players exchanged breaks in the third and fourth games, before the Czech broke to love for 4-3 on the back of a 10-shot rally.

Pavlyuchenkova saved two championship points in the ninth game and a third in the 10th, but Krejcikova became champion on the fourth when the Russian hit long.

— with AFP

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