Due to her late trainer the entire time, Barbora Krejcikova went from unseeded to Grand Slam champion at the French Open.
When it ended with Pavlyuchenkova’s backhand landing on the fourth game point for Krejcikova, a 25-year-old in the Czech Republic, they met in the net to get a hug.
Subsequently Krejcikova blew kisses, her eyes squeezed shut, in tribute to her former coach, Jana Novotna, the 1998 Wimbledon winner who died of cancer at 2017.
“Pretty much her last words were just like and only try to win a Grand Slam. And, I mean, I understand that, from someplace, she’s looking after me,” Krejcikova told the crowd at Court Philippe Chatrier, restricted to 5,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“All of this that only happened, both of these weeks, is pretty much since she is only looking after me out there,” Krejcikova stated, lifting her left hand toward the skies. “It was astonishing I had a chance to meet her and she had been such an inspiration for me personally. I just really miss her. However, I hope she is happy right now. I’m extremely pleased.”
Krejcikova is the third unseeded women’s champion since 2017 in Roland Garros.
Krejcikova and partner Katerina Siniakova already own two Grand Slam doubles titles and reached Sunday’s final of that event.
“Since (I was) a little girl, I was thinking when one day I’ll be standing , I was preparing a speech constantly when I was little. What I could have said. What I’d say. Right now, I have no words, actually. I forgot everything I was preparing,” said Pavlyuchenkova, that had been treated for a left leg issue late in the second group.
“In the last point, I think I had been dead,” she said. “I don’t have any more gas”
This was just the next WTA singles title for Krejcikova — and they’ve come in her past two championships.
She is the sixth consecutive first-time Grand Slam winner to collect the women’s championship at Roland Garros, where the reddish clay can frustrate players by decreasing the effectiveness of speedy functions and by producing 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 winner, retired from the next round with an injured left hip. Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, did not play at all due to a hurt calf. Serena Williams dropped in the fourth round. Defending champion Iga Swiatek dropped in the quarterfinals.
Krejcikova spoke frankly earlier in the championship about feeling overwhelmed by stress and panic before facing 2017 U.S. Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens from the fourth round.
Krejcikova said she feared she wouldn’t win a match and was in tears, not wanting to even play the game, until her sports psychologist talked her through it.
Good thing, too, since Krejcikova beat Stephens 6-2, 6-0.
Some jitters were apparent in the last’s opening game, when Krejcikova double-faulted double and got broken. But she snapped out of it immediately, excelling with her crisp two-handed backhand, net abilities honed in doubles and perfect defensive lobs. One curled over Pavlyuchenkova and landed right at a corner for a winner which aided Krejcikova split to 1-1 and start a six-game run.
Pavlyuchenkova went up 5-1 in the second, until she extended for a backhand, winced and reached for her top leg. During a medical timeout, a trainer taped that leg while Pavlyuchenkova had been on a towel, a bag of candies in reach.
In the next group, 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 significant winner Martina Navratilova and softly rocking the decoration during the national anthem.