It’s something I’ve always dreamed about. Winning here my first grand slam doubles title [in 2018], then winning the mixed ones. Now, I was just telling myself it would be really nice if I could get a grand slam in all three categories. I cannot believe it, now it’s happening. –Barbora Krejčíková
Seeds drop like flies
By Roger Childs
There are always 32 seeds for a grand slam tournament and on form and world ranking, number 1 should meet number 2 in the final. The higher ranked men usually make up the quarter final spots, and this year four of the top six seeds contested the semis.
This rarely happens in the women’s event. Incredibly, the first seventeen women’s seeds never made it to the last four, and the final was played between 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova from Russia and the unseeded Czech – Barbora Krejčíková. Only one unseeded player has won the Paris Open women’s title in the modern era – Latvian Jelena Ostopenko in 2017. The outcome of the 2021’s final would make it two.
Well matched finalists
Pavlyuchenkova and Krejčíková both needed three tough sets to beat Slovenia’s Tamara Zidanšek and Maria Sakkari from Greece respectively in the semi-finals and there was no clear favourite for Saturday’s final.
Not surprisingly a third set was needed to decide the contest. Both players served strongly and displayed plenty of power in their ground strokes. They placed the ball well, often wide and deep, and showed their fitness in making many excellent retrievals. They also mixed up their placements and drop shots featuring on many occasions generally succeeded.
Krejčíková dropped her serve in the very first game and then surprisingly won the next six to take the first set. Would this be a one-sided encounter after all? Definitely not – Pavlyuchenkova roared back to take the next set 6-2. After it got to 4-3 in the decider, the Czech broke her opponent’s serve and at 5-3, served to take the championship. The Russian pulled back another game, but Krejčíková kept her cool and took the next to win the title 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.
Towards the end of the second set Pavlyuchenkova required a medical time-out for massage on a strained thigh muscle and wore a tight bandage on her upper leg for the rest of the match. It’s a hard to assess how much this affected the outcome.
The new champion
The 25-year-old Barbora Krejčíková has previously been better known as a doubles player having won two doubles and three mixed doubles grand slams. She also made the doubles final at Roland Garros this year.
Ranked 33rd in the world in singles going into the French Open, she wasn’t expected to get past the early rounds, but her success in this year’s final has seen her ranking improve to 15. Perhaps she will now specialise in singles. The tennis world will be watching with great interest. (Barbora Krejčíková and her compatriot Kateřina Siniaková went on to win the women’s doubles title.)