At the French Open, Barbora Krejcikova went from unseeded to Grand Slam champion.
She won her fifth major tournament as a singles player by beating 31st-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 in the final at Roland Garros on Saturday.
The match ended with Pavlyuchenkova’s backhand landing long on the fourth match point for Krejcikova.
Then Krejcikova blew kisses to the sky, in honor of her former coach, Jana Novotna, the 1998 Wimbledon champion who died of cancer in 2017.
“Pretty much her last words were just enjoy and just try to win a Grand Slam. I know somewhere she’s looking over me,” Krejcikova told the crowd at Court Philippe Chatrier.
“She was such an inspiration for me. I just really miss her,” Krejcikova said. “I hope she’s happy right now.”
With this win, she became the third unseeded women’s champion in the last five years at Roland Garros.
Further, she will try to become the first woman since Mary Pierce in 2000 to win the French Open singles and doubles titles in the same year.
This was Krejcikova’s second WTA singles title. She won the trophy on clay at Strasbourg, France, last month and is now on a 12-match winning streak.
She is the sixth uninterrupted first-time Grand Slam champion to collect the trophy at Roland Garros.
Saturday’s game between the two first-time Grand Slam finalists was perhaps a fitting conclusion to a two-weeks filled with surprises.
During the opening game, Saturday: Krejcikova double-faulted twice and got broken. But she snapped out of it right away.
Krejcikova outshined with her crisp two-handed backhand, net skills refined in doubles and particularly good use of defensive throws.
One curled over Pavlyuchenkova which helped Krejcikova break to 1-1 and begin a six-game run that gave her the first set. Another was dumped into the net on an overhead attempt by a backpedalling Pavlyuchenkova.
But Pavlyuchenkova recovered and went up 5-1 in the second set. But that’s when she stretched for a backhand, winced and leaned on her racket while reaching for her upper left leg.
This resulted in a medical timeout.
In the third, it was Krejcikova who kept nosing ahead. She broke to lead 2-1 when Pavlyuchenkova double-faulted.
After Pavlyuchenkova broke right back, covering it with a big forehand winner she celebrated with a shout, Krejcikova again gained the upper hand by breaking at love with a forehand winner that made it 4-3.
Pavlyuchenkova saved two match points while serving at 5-3, and Krejcikova wasted another by double-faulting in the next game.
But she won it on the following chance and soon enough was kissing the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen and gently rocking the trophy during the Czech national anthem.