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Five Things To Know About Barbora Krejcikova’s Win At Roland Garros
The 25-year-old Czech is one of the most unlikely Grand Slam champions in the Open Era in many ways.
Published Jun 14, 2021
The women’s event at 2021 Roland Garros was already an unusual one—the Top 3 seeds were all out before the round of 16 for just the second time in the Open Era, there were four first-time Grand Slam semifinalists in the final four for just the second time at ANY major in the Open Era, and for the first time outside of the Australian Open in the '70s, neither of the two finalists were even ranked in the Top 30.
And with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 win over 32nd ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final, 33rd ranked Barbora Krejcikova gave the tournament a perfectly unlikely finish.
Here are five things to know about Krejcikova’s historic victory.
She had never even been in the Top 100 in singles until last October.
Krejcikova had reached No. 1 on the WTA doubles rankings in October 2018, but it wasn’t until October 2020 when she finally broke into the Top 100 on the WTA singles rankings after her surprise run to the fourth round of Roland Garros. She rose from No. 114 to No. 85 after that, got herself up to No. 65 by the end of the year, and rose to No. 33 by the time the tour returned to Paris this year.
She’ll make her Top 20 debut when the new rankings come out on Monday.
She’s the seventh unseeded woman to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era.
The first six were Chris O’Neil (1978 Australian Open), Serena Williams (2007 Australian Open), Kim Clijsters (2009 US Open), Jelena Ostapenko (2017 Roland Garros), Sloane Stephens (2017 US Open) and Iga Swiatek (2020 Roland Garros).
Krejcikova was just five spots out of being seeded at Roland Garros, and if Strasbourg—which she won the week before the tournament—had been held a week earlier, she would have been seeded in Paris.
She’s the 12th woman in the Open Era to save match point en route to a Grand Slam title.
Krejcikova fought off a match point serving at 3-5, 30-40 in the third set of her grueling 7-5, 4-6, 9-7 win over Maria Sakkari in the semifinals, then came back to beat Pavlyuchenkova for the title two days later.
The other 11 women to achieve the daring feat are Martina Navratilova (1986 US Open), Monica Seles (1991 Australian Open), Jennifer Capriati (2002 Australian Open), Serena Williams (2003 Australian Open, 2005 Australian Open and 2009 Wimbledon), Anastasia Myskina (2004 Roland Garros), Justine Henin (2005 Roland Garros), Venus Williams (2005 Wimbledon), Li Na (2014 Australian Open), Angelique Kerber (2016 Australian Open), Caroline Wozniacki (2018 Australian Open) and Naomi Osaka (2021 Australian Open).
A good omen for Krejcikova: all 11 of those women were, had been or would become No.1 or No.2 on the WTA rankings.
She’s the first Czech woman to win a Major since Petra Kvitova, and the second since Jana Novotna.
Since Novotna had her fairytale run to the title at Wimbledon in 1998, Kvitova and Krejcikova are the only Czech women to lift Grand Slam trophies, with Kvitova doing it twice (Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014) and now Krejcikova once (2021 Roland Garros).
Novotna was Krejcikova’s former coach and mentor.
“She always told me, ‘Doesn’t matter how many titles you’re going to win, you always have to come and say hello, please, and thank you. It’s very important to behave very nice,’” Krejcikova recalled. “I take all of this and I really appreciate it because that’s what she was actually doing. She was a great athlete. She was still very humble. She’s a big role model. I just want to be the same as she was.”
Roland Garros has now produced six first-time Grand Slam women’s champions in a row.
Since Serena Williams won her 20th major in Paris in 2015, it’s been six first-timers in a row: Garbine Muguruza in 2016, Jelena Ostapenko in 2017, Simona Halep in 2018, Ashleigh Barty in 2019, Iga Swiatek in 2020 and now Krejcikova in 2021.
Additionally, 10 of the last 16 majors have produced first-time Grand Slam women’s champions, a stretch that started after Serena won her 23rd and most recent major at the 2017 Australian Open.