Barbora Krejcikova won her maiden WTA singles title at the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Saturday when she defeated Sorana Cirstea, 6-3 6-3, in windy conditions in the final.
I’m really happy, for me, it’s more emotional because in 1989 my former coach [Jana Novotna] won [here]. I think from somewhere above me, during the match, she was watching over me and she was helping me, and she really wanted me to win, so I’m really happy I was able to do it. Barbora Krejcikova
“There’s been a lot of emotions on the court,” Krejcikova said after her win. “I have so many things on my mind right now, it’s really hard to put it in sentences.”
The win continues a breakthrough year in singles for the 25-year-old, who is currently at a career-high singles ranking of World No 38 and has posted an 18-8 singles record in 2021.
It is also perfect preparation for the Czech, who now heads for Paris and the French Open, which starts on Sunday.
Competing in her third career WTA final, Krejcikova overcame 10 doubles-faults by breaking Cirstea 6 times en route to the biggest title of her career, converting 6 of 13 break points to deny her Romanian opponent a third singles title.
In the 3rd meeting between Krejcikova and Cirstea, it was the Czech, though, who won 73 percent of her first-service points, while Cirstea won less than half of her own in the 1 hour 39 contest,
“I felt I was struggling with the serve already yesterday, and today I was struggling with the serve,” Krejcikova admitted. “But I just knew that it was going to be like this, and I was looking to find another way to win the match.
“To somehow fight for the ball each point, and just find a way to win the rally, somehow, even if my serve doesn’t work and it’s not really helping me.
“Actually at the end, at 5-3, I was serving really well! So I don’t know what happened, it’s been up and down.”
Krejcikova recorded her 10th win over a top 50 player earlier in the week, against Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova.
On Saturday, despite the same score margin, the two sets were quite different in nature, with Krejcikova getting off to a racing start and creating three chances to break Cirstea, the World No 61.
She used her deep ground strokes well to force Cirstea to scramble for returns and combined that strategy with finesse at the net.
The Czech also attacked the Romanian’s serve and consolidated to build a 4-0 lead and ,although Cirstea saved 2 set points at 5-2 and eventually broke in that game to edge closer in the set, Krejcikova earned her 3rd set point in the very next game, which she converted with a forehand winner.
In the second, neither player was able to hold onto their deliveries, with 5 of the first 6 games going against serve, until Krejcikova ultimately held the lead after a divine lob winner put her up 4-2.
Serving for the match at 5-3, she zipped to a love hold, and had, at last, picked up a singles trophy at the highest level.
“I’m just really proud of myself and I’m really happy that I had an amazing week,” Krejcikova said. “I feel so tired right now, but I’m going to be alright!”
Cirstea never quite got a grip on the match with her unforced error count rising with every game as she finished with 44 in all, while Krejcikova fired 22 winners, including one on match point as she screamed in delight in front of the handful of fans in attendance.
Later, the Czech’s thoughts turned to her coach, the late Jana Novotna, who was the first from her country to win the Strasbourg title, followed by Nicole Vaidisova in 2006.
Novotna, the 1998 Wimbledon champion who passed away in 2017, was Krejcikova’s coach before her death, while Strasbourg was also Novotna’s maiden title on clay.
”I’m really happy, for me, it’s more emotional because in 1989 my former coach [Jana Novotna] won [here],” Krejcikova said.
“I think from somewhere above me, during the match, she was watching over me and she was helping me, and she really wanted me to win, so I’m really happy I was able to do it.”
A long-desired singles title can now be added to Krejcikova’s myriad doubles accomplishments who, as a former WTA Doubles World No 1, holds 8 career doubles titles, including 2 Grand Slam titles alongside her regular partner Katerina Siniakova.
“I’m shaking, super excited to win my first WTA title.” Krejcikova, who fought back from a set down twice in the tournament to win her matches, added at the trophy presentation ceremony.
In Saturday’s doubles final, No 1 seeds Alexa Guarachi & Desirae Krawczyk notched their second team title of the season with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Japan’s Makoto Ninomiya & Yang Zhaoxuan from China.
Guarachi, who is also from China and American Krawczyk are the 2020 Roland Garros runners-up, and they also teamed up for the title in Adelaide earlier this year, while Guarachi also claimed a 3rd title in 2021 in Dubai alongside Darija Jurak.
Overall, this is the 5th WTA doubles title for Guarachi and 6th for Krawcyzk in their careers, 4 of which came as a result of their partnership.
Guarachi & Krawczyk needed an hour and 10 minutes to dispatch Ninomiya & Yang, the top seeds breaking the unseeded duo 5 times en route to victory.