Barbora Krejcikova defeated Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets to win a first Grand Slam singles title at the French Open.
Krejcikova, who was widely considered to be a doubles specialist until recent times, won 6-1 2-6 6-4 to win a third major title across both disciplines.
She can add a fourth tomorrow along with regular partner Katerina Siniakova in the women’s doubles. It was the unlikeliest of finals, with neither of these players having been past a major quarter-final prior to this event but both took their opportunity with both hands.
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But Krejcikova, 25, became the first Czech player to win the women’s singles title at Roland Garros since Hana Mandlikova in 1981. Remarkably this was just the fourth main draw event she has played in her career, having been outside the top-100 just a year ago.
She said after the match: ‘I just want to thank everyone for coming today and supporting us. There was the biggest support, biggest energy. In these bad times, in this pandemic, its so nice to see you all. The atmosphere was amazing. I was super happy I was able to enjoy it in front of you. I’m just really happy. I cannot believe what just happened. I can’t believe I won a Grand Slam.’
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She paid a tribute to her former coach and 1998 Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna, who died in 2017, pointing to the sky and saying, ‘I hope she’s happy now’.
It was Pavlyuchenkova – a former junior No. 1 – who drew first blood after a nervy start from her Czech opponent, who threw down two double faults in her opening game. But her joy was short lived as Krejcikova break straight back and carried that momentum on – reeling off six games in a row – to wrap up the first set after just 30 minutes.
Pavlyuchenkova, 29, was quick to respond. She broke en route to a 3-0 lead in the second set and again to move 5-1 up but was stopped in her tracks when serving for it as Krejcikova struck back.
The Russian then required treatment on her thigh, munching on some Haribo sweets while being looked after by medical staff, but picked herself up to break again and level the match. If the first two sets were somewhat one-sided, the decider was anything but.
Krejcikova got her nose in front but Pavlyuchenkova slapped a forehand winner cross court to level things up for 2-2. In the seventh game of the third, Krejcikova turned up the heat, breaking courtesy of a brutal forehand winner.
Pavlyuchenkova saved two match points on serve in the ninth game, forcing her opponent to serve it out. Krejcikova double faulted on her third match point and first on serve, but converted the second to seal a famous victory.
Meanwhile, British No. 1 Johanna Konta booked her spot in a first WTA final in more than two years. Konta beat Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic in three sets at the Nottingham Open as she made the ideal start to her grass-court season.
American Lauren Davis or China’s Zhang Shuai will await Konta, who won 6-2 6-7 (2-7) 7-5.
Photo Credit: Getty