Krejcikova beat 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 in the final at Roland Garros on Saturday to claim the title in her fifth major singles tournament.
When it ended with Pavlyuchenkova’s backhand landing long on match point for Krejcikova, a 25-year-old Czech, they met at the net for a hug.
Then Krejcikova blew kisses, eyes closed, in tribute to her former coach, Jana Novotna, 1998 Wimbledon champion who died of cancer in 2017.
“Basically his last words were just to take advantage and try to win a Grand Slam. And, I mean, I know that, from somewhere, she’s taking care of me, ”Krejcikova told the crowd at Court Philippe Chatrier, limited to 5,000 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“All that just happened these two weeks is pretty much because she’s been taking care of me from up there,” Krejcikova said, raising her left hand to the sky. “It was amazing that I had the chance to meet her and that she was such an inspiration to me. I really miss her. But I hope she’s happy right now. I am extremely happy. “
Krejcikova is the third unclassified female champion since 2017 at Roland Garros. There were zero from 1968 to 2016.
She will now try to become the first woman since Mary Pierce in 2000 to win the Roland Garros titles in singles and doubles the same year. Krejcikova and her partner Katerina Siniakova already own two Grand Slam doubles titles and reached the final of this event on Sunday.
Pavlyuchenkova, a 29-year-old Russian, was playing her first Grand Slam final in the 52nd major of her career – the most appearances by a woman before reaching a title match.
“Since (I was) a little girl, I thought that if one day I would be here, I would prepare a speech all the time when I was little. What I could have said. What I would say. Right now, I forgot everything I was planning, said Pavlyuchenkova, who was treated for a problem in his left leg at the end of the second set.
“At the last point, I think I was dead,” she said. “I have no more fuel. “
It was only the second WTA singles title for Krejcikova _ and they have won it in her last two tournaments.
She is the sixth consecutive Grand Slam champion for the first time to win the women’s championship at Roland Garros, where red clay can frustrate players by diminishing the effectiveness of quick serves and creating weird rebounds.
Saturday’s game was a fitting conclusion to two weeks filled with surprises.
Naomi Osaka has stepped down to take a sanity break. No.1 Ash Barty, the 2019 champion, retired in the second round with a left hip injury. 2018 champion Simona Halep didn’t play at all due to a calf injury. Serena Williams lost in the fourth round. Defending champion Iga Swiatek lost in the quarterfinals.
Krejcikova spoke candidly earlier in the tournament of feeling overwhelmed by stress and panic before facing 2017 US Open champion and 2018 French Open finalist Sloane Stephens in the fourth round.
Krejcikova said she was worried about not winning a match and was in tears, not even wanting to play the match, before her sports psychologist told her about it.
Good thing too, because Krejcikova beat Stephens 6-2, 6-0. This was accompanied by wins over No.5 seed Elina Svitolina and No.24 Coco Gauff before Krejcikova saved a match point in the semi-final against No.17 Maria Sakkari.
Some nervousness was apparent in the opening game of the Final, when Krejcikova committed two double faults and broke. But she pulled it off right away, excelling with her impeccable two-handed backhand, sharp honed doubles skills and perfect defensive lobs. One curled up on Pavlyuchenkova and landed in a corner for a winner who helped Krejcikova beat 1-1 and start a six-game streak.
Pavlyuchenkova took a 5-1 lead in the second, before stretching for a backhand, wincing and grabbing her left leg. During a medical timeout, a trainer taped that leg while Pavlyuchenkova was on a napkin with a bag of candy close at hand.
In the third set, Krejcikova took the lead in earnest at 4-3 in breaking the love with a forehand winner.
Soon she is presented with the Suzanne Lenglen Cup by Martina Navratilova, 18-time major champion, and gently swings the trophy during the Czech national anthem.