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Krejcikova Keeps Late Coach's Words in Mind While Winning French

New champion was unseeded in the tournament
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 12, 2021 2:05 PM CDT

(Newser) – Thinking of her late coach the whole time, Barbora Krejcikova went from unseeded to Grand Slam champion at the French Open. Krejcikova beat 31st-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 in the final at Roland Garros on Saturday to win the title in just her fifth major tournament as a singles player. When it ended with Pavlyuchenkova's backhand landing long on the fourth match point for Krejcikova, a 25-year-old from the Czech Republic, they met at the net for a hug, the AP reports. Then Krejcikova blew kisses, her eyes squeezed shut, in tribute to her former coach, Jana Novotna, the 1998 Wimbledon champion who died of cancer in 2017. "Pretty much her last words were just enjoy and just try to win a Grand Slam. And, I mean, I know that, from somewhere, she's looking after me," Krejcikova told the crowd at Court Philippe Chatrier, limited to 5,000 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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"It was amazing that I had a chance to meet her and that she was such an inspiration for me. Krejcikova said, "I just really miss her. But I hope she's happy right now. I'm extremely happy." Krejcikova is the third unseeded women’s champion since 2017 at Roland Garros. There were zero from 1968 through 2016. She now will try to become the first woman since Mary Pierce in 2000 to win the French Open singles and doubles titles in the same year. Krejcikova and partner Katerina Siniakova already own two Grand Slam doubles titles and reached Sunday's final of that event. Pavlyuchenkova, a 29-year-old Russian, was playing in her first Grand Slam final in the 52nd major tournament of her career—the most appearances by a woman before reaching a title match. By the end of the match, she said, "I don't have any more fuel." Then Krejcikova was handed the trophy by 18-time major champion Martina Navratilova.

(Read more French Open stories.)

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