French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova needed just 65 minutes to win the Livesport Prague Open on Sunday, defeating fellow Czech Tereza Martincova and completing her perfect warm-up for the Tokyo Olympics; while there were also tournament victories for Tamara Zidansek in Lausanne and Yulia Putintseva in Budapest to conclude what was a dense week of tour-level action.
I felt I really have to come here and play my best every single day, just so they [home Czech fans] can see me and see that I'm real. I had to give it back to them somehow. Normally, if it wasn't in the Czech Republic, I wouldn't play any tournament [this week] because I just felt really tired, but they all wanted to see me. That was pretty much my power – the people came to see me, and I didn't want to disappoint them. Barbora Krejcikova
It is Krejcikova’s 3rd WTA title, following her triumphs at the French Open and Strasbourg.
Favourite for the title after top seed Petra Kvitova’s early departure, the 2nd-seeded Krejcikova effectively demolished Martincova, 6-2 6-0, hitting 26 winners on her way to the win.
From 2-2 in the opening set, Krejcikova cruised, winning 10 straight games against her opponent, who was playing her first WTA final.
Krejcikova did not lose a set at the hard-court tournament, and has won 20 of her last 21 matches, with her only defeat coming in the fourth round of Wimbledon to eventual champion Ash Barty.
“I felt as soon as I broke her I felt a little better,” Krejcikova said. “But still, it was pretty tight, the first few games, and I was really happy I actually got the first set.
“And the second was also tight, we had some deuces. I was just able to convert the big points a bit better.
“When I got to the 3-0 lead, I felt really confident, and I felt I really had to finish it.”
Krejcikova will now join Czech team in Tokyo.
“And after Paris everything changed as well,” she said. “My mental side completely changed.
“I’ve achieved everything I ever wanted. So now I just want to go hard, and have fun.
“For sure I’m working hard to do well, to play big tournaments and big players, but on the other hand I don’t really have a big goal.
“I just want to be healthy, and I just want to enjoy and play. If I can do these two things together, I think there is a big opportunity to win another big thing. But I don’t put it in my head like that.”
Krejcikova has now won 3 of the past 4 tournaments she has entered, including Roland Garros last month, and is in second place in the 2021 points race to the WTA Finals.
“I felt I really have to come here and play my best every single day, just so they [home Czech fans] can see me and see that I’m real,” Krejcikova added. “I had to give it back to them somehow.
“Normally, if it wasn’t in the Czech Republic, I wouldn’t play any tournament [this week] because I just felt really tired, but they all wanted to see me.
“That was pretty much my power – the people came to see me, and I didn’t want to disappoint them.”
Ladies Open Lausanne
Meanwhile, Zidansek, like Krejcikova, also performed brilliantly at Roland Garros by progressing to her first Grand Slam semi-final in Paris and, on Sunday, she improved her 2021 record on clay to 21-6 with her victory at the Ladies Open Lausanne, beating France’s Clara Burel, 4-6 7-6(5) 6-1, in the final.
“I’m really happy I managed to win it, and now I got that under my belt,” Zidansek said, following her victory.
No 1 seed Zidansek fought back from a set and an early break down to triumph on the clay courts of Switzerland, moving past former top-ranked junior Burel in just over 2 hours of play.
It is Zidansek’s first career WTA title and boosts her ranking 13 places to a career-best No 37.
“Semi-finals of Roland Garros showed me that my game is good enough to compete with the best,” said Zidansek, who trailed 4-2 in the tiebreak. “I’m really happy with the way I played there, and it just showed that I can be there.”
Zidansek, the World No 50, overcame a sluggish start and breezy conditions to beat the 125-ranked Burel on the central clay court at the Stade-Lausanne tennis club.
After losing the first set, Zidansek fell behind by a break in the second before rallying to win it in a tiebreak.
Burel, 20, a former World No Junior, who is coached by French former player Thierry Champion, was playing in her first final on the WTA tour.
It was a 3rd tour title for Zidansek, the 23-year-old having won the Bol tournament in Croatia in 2018 and 2019.
Despite her defeat, Burel’s performance will see her enter the top 100 for the first time.
The 32-player Lausanne tournament was not held last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hungarian Grand Prix
Elsewhere, Yulia Putintseva, the top seed at the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest, scored an emphatic 6-4 6-0 win over Anhelina Kalinina from Ukraine, to win her 2nd career title on the WTA Tour and her first in two years.
“I’m very happy to win my second trophy on clay,” Putintseva said, during the trophy ceremony.
The 26-year-old Kazakh needed 3 sets in her previous 2 matches, beating Kateryna Kozlova in the quarters and then in the semi-finals the surprise Hungarian wild-card Dalma Galfi, who had won the Wimbledon juniors in 2015.
Kalinina got the help of a semi-final retirement from Danielle Collins to reach her first WTA final and although she had won her last 14 matches, including 2 French ITF events coming into the final, the 24-year-old Ukrainian had never reached a WTA level quarter-final before this week.
Putintseva, who was scheduled to be the top seed at the new Polish stop in Gdynia, has withdrawn for a spot on the Kazakhstan Team at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I’m very confident right now, and I’m going to Tokyo with five wins behind my back,” Putintseva said. “It’s very important.
“I need to adapt quick for the surface because it’s going to be different, but I’m ready for anything.”
Putintseva won 71 percent of the points on her first serve, 29 of 41, and 62 percent of her first return points, 21 of 34, in the one hour, 10 minute match; while she also converted 5 of 8 break opportunities in claiming her first title of the year.
Overall, Putintseva fired 17 winners to 11 from Kalinina, who, came unglued with 34 unforced errors at the end of her career-best week.
Putintseva eased to a quick lead in the first set, using her signature drop-shot wizardry for winners on break points in Kalinina’s first 2 service games.
At 3-0, Putintseva handed a break back with a pair of double-faults, but the Kazakh held on through some lengthy service games from there, and claimed the one-set advantage.
She had no problems in the second, as her outstanding foot-speed and clay-court craft drew errors from the less experienced Kalinina.
Putintseva never faced a break point in that set, and while Kalinina had a glimmer of hope at 0-30 in the final game, the Kazakh powered her way out of that jam as she picked up a 7th straight game to claim the title.
Putintseva, a three-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, now heads to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo on a five-match winning streak.