Paris: Barbora Krejcikova won the French Open on Saturday, beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.
For Krejcikova, 25, of the Czech Republic, the win marked the highlight of a late-blooming but suddenly exploding career, and capped a surprising tournament in which many of the strongest players withdrew, retired, or were defeated early in the competition.
Krejcikova was not seeded at this tournament but was a sentimental favorite, capturing the crowd’s heart with her emotional post-match speeches filled with words of inspiration and tributes to her mentor and role model, the former Czech champion Jana Novotna, who died at 49 in 2017.
Match winner Barbora Krejcikova of Czech Republic kisses the winners trophy after her win. Credit:
“All of this that happened the past two weeks has happened because she is looking out for me somewhere,” Krejcikova said on the court after the match.
Krejcikova received the winner’s trophy from Martina Navratilova, an 18-time Grand Slam tournament singles winner, who defected from the former Czechoslovakia in 1975, 20 years before Krejcikova was born in a country that was much different by then.
She has been best known in past years for her prowess in doubles and will attempt to win that championship Sunday with her partner, Katerina Siniakova.
Krejcikova, 25, who was ranked outside the top 100 as recently as recently as last September, has one of the most multifaceted playing styles on the women’s tour.
She plays with any number of tricks and spins and possesses a dangerous moonball backhand that bounces high and can pin her opponents deep in the court. Power is not her thing, which makes her unusual in a sport obsessed with hitting hard. But what she lacks in power she makes up for in creativity.
In Pavlyuchenkova, 29, she faced a former teenage prodigy who had never made it past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament. Despite that frustration, Pavlyuchenkova has displayed remarkable durability, playing in every Grand Slam between the 2008 French Open until the 2020 U.S. Open.
Other than a semifinal appearance in Madrid last month, Pavlyuchenkova’s performances over the past six months gave few hints that she would have the run of her career at this French Open.
After the loss, Pavlyuchenkova said her brother had predicted last month that she had a bright moment ahead of her. Several of Pavlyuchenkova’s friends flew to Paris to witness the match, she said.
“I don’t know if they thought it was going to be my only final, so they decided to come,” she said.
The New York Times
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