When Chzech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova won her maiden Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she did not forget former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna.
The 25-year old edged Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova with a6-1, 2-6, 6-4 score for a second career title.
Krejcikova secured the decisive breaks of serve near the start of each set, protecting her delivery well in the face of adversity. After saving a break point to lead 3-1 in the second set, she faced just one other – holding serve in a lengthy, four-deuce game to build an identical lead in the final set.
Evenly matched from the baseline, both players racked up 36 winners over the course of the match and were nearly even with that total in unforced errors, as the Bulgarian totaled 39 and the Czech 38.
Krejcikova honoured her former coach, Jana Novotna after winning the maiden Grand Slam singles title at Roland Garros. World No.33 is the first Czech woman to win singles at French Open since Hana Mandlikova in 1981.
Despite having a total of four Grand Slam titles to her name between women’s and mixed doubles, Krejcikova had only previously played two Grand Slam main draws in singles prior to earning direct entry this year in Paris with 15 losses in the qualifying rounds of majors dating back to 2014.Her first Grand Slam main-draw win came earlier this year at the Australian Open, where she successfully qualified in a sixth trip to Melbourne Park, and she’s now in the midst of a career-best major in a fourth singles trip to Paris.
If not for the courage of an 18-year-old Krejcikova to go knock on the door of the late, great Jana Novotna, uninvited for the advice, Barbora doubts she would be celebrating an unthinkable ascent to the summit of the Roland-Garros podium.
“I was going through a really hard time when Jana [Novotna] was passing away, I was most of the time her, and I really wanted to experience this because I thought it’s just 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 out for me and all of this, what happened these two weeks is because she is just looking after me probably and I just want to really thank her. It’s 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 and I’m extremely happy.”
Over the course of these last few years, Krejcikova time to time has made it clear that her relationship with the great Jana Novotna has played a pivotal role in her success.
The Czech legend, who coached Krejcikova from 2014 to 2017 before passing away after a battle with cancer in November 2017, is revered by those who knew her and widely adored in the tennis community. Her legacy continues to grow further now, thanks to the success of Krejcikova.