AP

Inspired by Novotna, Krejcikova wins 1st Slam title in Paris

Jun 12, 2021, 11:04 AM

Czech Republic's Barbora Krejcikova kisses the trophy after defeating Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchen...

Czech Republic's Barbora Krejcikova kisses the trophy after defeating Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova during their final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Saturday, June 12, 2021 in Paris. The unseeded Czech player defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 in the final. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

PARIS (AP) — Thinking of her late coach the whole time, Barbora Krejcikova went from unseeded to Grand Slam champion at the French Open.

Krejcikova beat 31st-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 in the final at Roland Garros on Saturday to win the title in just her fifth major tournament as a singles player.

When it ended with Pavlyuchenkova’s backhand landing long on the fourth match point for Krejcikova, a 25-year-old from the Czech Republic, they met at the net for a hug.

Then Krejcikova blew kisses, her eyes squeezed shut, in tribute to 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. And, I mean, I know that, from somewhere, she’s looking after me,” Krejcikova told the crowd at Court Philippe Chatrier, limited to 5,000 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“All of this that just happened, these two weeks, is pretty much because she is just looking after me from up there,” Krejcikova said, lifting her left hand toward the sky. “It was amazing that I had a chance to meet her and that she was such an inspiration for me. I just really miss her. But I hope she’s happy right now. I’m extremely happy.”

Krejcikova is the third unseeded women’s champion since 2017 at Roland Garros. There were zero from 1968 through 2016.

She now 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. Krejcikova and partner Katerina Siniakova already own two Grand Slam doubles titles and reached Sunday’s final of that event.

Pavlyuchenkova, a 29-year-old Russian, was playing in her first Grand Slam final in the 52nd major tournament of her career — the most appearances by a woman before reaching a title match.

“Since (I was) a little girl, I was thinking if one day I will be standing here, I was preparing a speech all the time when I was little. What I could have said. What I would say. Right now, I have no words, actually. I forgot everything that I was preparing,” said Pavlyuchenkova, who was treated for a left leg problem late in the second set.

“In the last point, I think I was dead,” she said. “I don’t have any more fuel.”

This was only the second WTA singles title for Krejcikova — and they’ve come in her past two tournaments.

She is the sixth consecutive first-time Grand Slam champion to collect the women’s championship at Roland Garros, where the red clay can frustrate players by diminishing the effectiveness of speedy serves and by creating odd bounces.

Saturday’s matchup was a fitting conclusion to two surprise-filled weeks.

Naomi Osaka withdrew to take a mental health break. No. 1 Ash Barty, the 2019 champion, retired in the second round with an injured left hip. Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, didn’t play at all because of a hurt calf. Serena Williams lost in the fourth round. Defending champion Iga Swiatek lost in the quarterfinals.

Krejcikova spoke frankly earlier in the tournament about feeling overwhelmed by stress and panic before facing 2017 U.S. Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens in the fourth round.

Krejcikova said she worried she wouldn’t win a game and was in tears, not wanting to even play the match, before her sports psychologist talked her through it.

Good thing, too, because Krejcikova beat Stephens 6-2, 6-0. That went alongside wins over No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina and No. 24 Coco Gauff before Krejcikova saved a match point in the semifinals against No. 17 Maria Sakkari.

Some jitters were apparent in the final’s opening game, when Krejcikova double-faulted twice and got broken. But she snapped out of it right away, excelling with her crisp two-handed backhand, net skills honed in doubles and perfect defensive lobs. One curled over Pavlyuchenkova and landed right in a corner for a winner that helped Krejcikova break to 1-1 and begin a six-game run.

Pavlyuchenkova went up 5-1 in the second, before she stretched for a backhand, winced and reached for her upper left leg.

During a medical timeout, a trainer taped that leg while Pavlyuchenkova was on a towel, a bag of candy within reach.

In the third set, Krejcikova nosed ahead for good at 4-3 by breaking at love with a forehand winner.

Soon enough, she was being handed the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen by 18-time major champion Martina Navratilova and gently rocking the trophy during the Czech national anthem.

___
AP Tennis Writer Howard Fendrich in Washington contributed to this report.
___
More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

AP

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at a Republican campaign ...

WILL WEISSERT Associated Press

Haley says she raised $12M in February, can’t point to long-term plan to beat Trump

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said Friday that she raised $12 million in February, a haul that will likely allow her to remain in the Republican primary against former President Donald Trump past next week's Super Tuesday — even though she can't point to an upcoming state where she expects to beat him.

1 day ago

February, 29, otherwise know as leap year day, is shown on a calendar Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, in Ove...

LEANNE ITALIE AP Lifestyles Writer

What would happen without a Leap Day? More than you might think

Leap year. It's a delight for the calendar and math nerds among us. So how did it all begin and why?

3 days ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night ...

MEG KINNARD and WILL WEISSERT Associated Press

Trump wins South Carolina, easily beating Haley in her home state and closing in on GOP nomination

Donald Trump won South Carolina's Republican primary on Saturday further consolidating his path to a third straight GOP nomination.

7 days ago

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, center, sits with her attorney Jason Bowles, left, during the first day of t...

MORGAN LEE Associate Press

Negligence or scapegoating? Trial of ‘Rust’ armorer begins in fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin

Prosecutors sought to pin blame on a movie weapons supervisor for bringing live ammunition on set that contributed to the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin during production of the film "Rust."

9 days ago

A pail rests next to caution tape on a beach in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Fla., on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2...

Associated Press

Young girl killed when a hole she dug in the sand collapsed on a Florida beach, authorities said

A young girl died Tuesday when a deep hole she was digging collapsed on her at a south Florida beach, authorities said.

11 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018....

MEAD GRUVER Associated Press

A Colorado man is dead after a pet Gila monster bite

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death if the creature's venom was the cause.

11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Inspired by Novotna, Krejcikova wins 1st Slam title in Paris