French Open: Unseeded Czech Barbora Krejcikova defeats Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win women's singles title
Barbora Krejcikova defeats Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to become the first Czech player to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup since Hana Mandlikova in 1981; in an emotional speech, the 25-year-old thanked her former coach, Jana Novotna, who died of cancer in 2017
Last Updated: 13/06/21 7:29am
Barbora Krejcikova's dream French Open run ended in a stunning victory as she claimed her maiden Grand Slam title after overcoming Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Saturday's women's singles final.
The Czech, ranked No 33 in the world, claimed the Suzanne Lenglen trophy after battling past Russian Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 2-6 6-4.
Krejcikova, 25, was coached earlier in her career by former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna, who died of cancer in 2017 at the age of 49.
In an emotional victory speech, she said: "It's really hard to put words together right now because I cannot believe what just happened. I cannot believe that I actually won a Grand Slam.
"I was going through a really hard time when Jana was passing away. I was most of the time with her and I really wanted to experience this because I felt it was going to make me really strong. Pretty much her last words were just enjoy and just try to win a Grand Slam.
"I know that from somewhere she's looking after me and all of this is pretty much because she's looking after me from up there.
"It's amazing that I had a chance to meet her and that she was such an inspiration for me. I really miss her but I hope she's happy right now."
Her breakthrough arrived at Roland Garros last year, when a run to the fourth round helped her move into the top 100, and she has not looked back, winning her first WTA singles title in Strasbourg on the eve of this tournament.
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Krejcikova, bidding to join Jelena Ostapenko and Iga Swiatek as recent unseeded champions at Roland Garros, dropped serve in the opening game but then reeled off six in a row to clinch the first set in 31 minutes.
Seventeen of the last 19 Roland Garros women's singles finals had been won by the player winning the first set, and it was the Czech's more compact game which stood up much better in the biggest match of both their lives.
Pavlyuchenkova, who reached a career-high No 11 a little over 10 years ago, faced another break point in the opening game of the second set but she saved it and stopped the run of six games against her.
That proved to be a turning point, with the Russian soon settling into the contest and beginning to do some real damage with her big groundstrokes to open up a comfortable lead.
For the sixth consecutive year, Roland Garros has a first-time Grand Slam champion.— US Open Tennis (@usopen) June 12, 2021
2016: Garbine Muguruza
2017: Jelena Ostapenko
2018: Simona Halep
2019: Ashleigh Barty
2020: Iga Swiatek
2021: Barbora Krejcikova
However, during the seventh game, Pavlyuchenkova reacted with a grimace and grasped her left thigh. She took a medical time-out at the change of ends to have it taped.
It did not appear to unduly affect the 29-year-old, though, as a backhand driven onto the line gave her the set.
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Krejcikova vs Pavlyuchenkova: Match Stats
|55%||1st serve win percentage||49%|
|55%||2nd serve win percentage||48%|
|6/14||Break points won||5/12|
|85||Total points won||75|
Krejcikova had lost her timing and gave a rare negative outburst after Pavlyuchenkova held in the opening game of the deciding set.
But Pavlyuchenkova began to look uncomfortable on serve in particular, and Krejcikova took advantage with a break for 4-3 and then a hold to leave her one game away.
Krejcikova, who will also have a chance to go for the doubles title alongside Katerina Siniakova on Sunday, showed signs of nerves when she missed two match points on Pavlyuchenkova's serve before double-faulting on the third.
But on the fourth, the Russian went long and the Czech looked utterly stunned as she held her arms aloft.
Addressing the crowd, Pavlyuchenkova said: "Since I was a little girl, I was thinking if one day I'd be standing here I was preparing the speech all the time when I was little, what I would say.
"Right now I have no words, I forgot everything I was preparing.
"Congrats to Barbora. I really don't know how you have that courage and power playing doubles and singles because honestly in the last point, I think I was dead.
"Well done, keep going in doubles tomorrow. I won't say bye to you, I think I'll see you later again and now I'll be pushing for more."