Saturday, June 12, 2021

Krejcikova tops ailing ex-Capital for French Open title

   Formerly considered a doubles specialist, Barbora Krejcikova has a new title.
   Grand Slam singles champion.
   The unseeded Czech capped her stunning run in the French Open with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 victory over ailing Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova today in Paris. Afterward, Krejcikova (pronounced Kray-chee-ko-va) looked at the sky in honor of her former coach, countrywoman Jana Novotna, an International Tennis Hall of Famer who died of ovarian cancer at 49 in 2017.
   It was the first Grand Slam singles final for both players. Pavlyuchenkova (the "y" is silent), who will turn 30 on July 2, needed a record 52 attempts to get that far in a major and Krejcikova, 25, only five.
   "I'm just really happy that I was able to handle it mentally," Krejcikova told reporters. "I think that was the biggest key."
  Krejcikova, who saved a match point in her marathon semifinal against Maria Sakkari, became the:
   —Sixth consecutive first-time Grand Slam women's champion at Roland Garros, following (in order) Garbiñe Muguruza, Jelena Ostapenko, Simona Halep, Ashleigh Barty and Iga Swiatek.
   —Third unseeded winner in Paris in five years, joining Ostapenko and Swiatek.
   —First Czech woman to earn the title since Hana Mandlikova 40 years ago. Czech-born Martina Navratilova, representing the United States, won the last of her two French Open singles crowns in 1984. Navratilova presented Krejcikova with the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen.
   Krejcikova also extended her winning streak to 12 matches. She won her first WTA singles title in Strasbourg the week before the French Open.
   Krejcikova, who ascended to No. 1 in doubles in 2018, jumped 18 places to a career-high No. 15 in singles and pocketed $1.69 million. The 31st-seeded Pavlyuchenkova, who played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis as the world's top junior at 15 in 2006, rose 13 spots to No. 19 and collected $907,880. 
   Pavlyuchenkova, serving for the second set at 5-1, hurt her left leg and lost the game. After having her upper thigh wrapped, she broke back for the set.
   In the third set, Krejcikova broke at love to lead 4-3 and held for 5-3. Pavlyuchenkova then saved two championship points to hold for 4-5.
   Krejcikova earned two more championship points in the next game at 40-15. She double-faulted on the first one, but Pavlyuchenkova then slugged a backhand barely long.
   "I didn't expect that this tournament, this Roland Garros, I'll be in the final," said Pavlyuchenkova, the first Russian Grand Slam finalist in six years. "Physically, I wasn't feeling super great, like ready, 100 percent. Still, because of fighting and believing, you can achieve it. That's probably the most important."
   On Sunday, Krejcikova will try to become the first woman to sweep the singles and doubles crowns at Roland Garros since Mary Pierce in 2000. Krejcikova and countrywoman Katerina Siniakova, the second seeds, will face 14th-seeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Swiatek of Poland.
   Krejcikova and Siniakova captured the French Open and Wimbledon in 2018, propelling them to No. 1.
   ATP Tour — No. 3 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, 20, of Canada defeated Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, 6-4, 7-5 to reach his second consecutive Mercedes Cup final on grass in Stuttgart, Germany. Auger-Aliassime lost to Matteo Berrettini in the 2019 title match.
   ATP Challenger Tour — Unseeded Christopher Eubanks of Atlanta beat wild card Sam Riffice, a 22-year-old native of Sacramento, Calif., playing in his adopted hometown, 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals of the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Open on hardcourts.

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