Unseeded Czech is Queen of Roland Garros
Paris, Jun 12:
Unseeded Barbora Krejcikova won her first Grand Slam title by beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 in the French Open final on Saturday. This was only the fifth major tournament in singles for Krejcikova, a 25-year-old from the Czech Republic. She is the third unseeded women’s champion in the last five years at Roland Garros.
Krejcikova 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 Kateria Siniakova already own two Grand Slam doubles titles and are scheduled to play in the final of that event in Paris on Sunday.
This was only the second WTA singles title for Krejcikova, but they have come in her past two tournaments. She won the trophy on clay at Strasbourg, France, last month and is now on a 12-match winning streak.
She is the sixth consecutive first-time Grand Slam champion to collect the trophy at Roland Garros, where the red clay can diminish the effectiveness of speedy serves and the sometimes odd bounces produced by, and particular footwork required on, the surface can frustrate players.
Saturday’s matchup between two first-time Grand Slam finalists was perhaps a fitting conclusion to a two weeks filled with surprises.
Naomi Osaka, a four-time major champion seeded No. 2, withdrew after one match and a conflict with Grand Slam officials over a rule that mandates speaking to the media to take a mental health break.
No. 1-ranked Ash Barty, the 2019 champion, retired from her second-round match with a left hip injury.
No. 3 Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, never showed up because of a hurt calf. Serena Williams was beaten in the fourth round. Defending champion Iga Swiatek lost in the quarterfinals.
Barbora pays tribute to late coach Jana
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.
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.