The unseeded Barbora Krejcikova produced an inspired performance in the deciding set of the French Open final to overcome the challenge of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Eurosport's Chris Evert believes she will now be a real force in the women's game.
The 25-year-old from Brno, who has not even yet reached the main draw at Wimbledon or the US Open, completed a famous fortnight with a composed and classy display on Court Philippe Chatrier to edge out the gutsy Pavlyuchenkova in one hour and 58 minutes.
Krejcikova not only repelled an impressive second-set resurgence from the Russian, but she continued the fearless play she has demonstrated all tournament in Paris. While Pavlyuchenkova sustained an injury late in the second set, this was a quite stunning triumph for the Czech, who was not even in the world's top 100 12 months ago, and Evert paid tribute to her breakthrough.
Defending champion Krejcikova left in tears after shock first-round loss
23/05/2022 AT 13:54
"She is shell-shocked right now. She’s still in the moment and has that competitor mindset and it takes a while to de-compartmentalise that fact that she’s won a Grand Slam," Evert told Eurosport.
"I don’t think she’s realised yet but she is in the history books now and is on the same Helen Wills, Suzanne Lenglen, Serena [Williams]. That is going to blow her mind. It was a random final, you just couldn’t foresee her winning this tournament but if you look back at her results and how calm and collected she was and got herself out of trouble in all of her matches, it was richly deserved.

Highlights: Krejcikova wins first Grand Slam title with Roland Garros triumph

"At 5-3 I thought 'please don’t throw this away' because she had unforced errors and you could tell she was so nervous. They changed sides and she just had to reset and collect herself and say ‘I’m not going to let this go’ and she came through in the end.
It wasn’t until last fall that she broke into the top 100 in the world, it’s just amazing. This is a woman who always wanted to be known as a singles player. She has won multiple Grand Slam doubles titles and was known as a doubles specialist but not a singles specialist. But this has been her dream and her goal and she’s proving to a lot of people that she’s a force to be reckoned with in singles as well as doubles.

Krejcikova is now 'a force to be reckoned with' after Paris crown - Evert

Fellow Eurosport expert Mats Wilander added: "It means so much because they’ve [Czech Republic] been producing so many great tennis players and have been since Martina Navratilova, but to finally get someone that maybe they didn’t expect to do as well, because there are higher ranked Czech women in the world… Watch out for the Czech women now that she has broken down the barrier.
"I do think Barbora has been helped by winning doubles matches because it doesn’t matter, you’re on centre court and you have match point in a Grand Slam, then I think it did help her. Really emotionally strong performance today. To be able to do that on her own, the confidence she gets from this, it’s hard to imagine.”
Neither Pavlyuchenkova nor Krejcikova had experience of playing in a Grand Slam final prior to this tournament and it was always going to be fascinating to see how each would handle the huge occasion at Roland Garros.
After losing her serve in the opening game of the match, Krejcikova found something very special to storm through the set thereafter, winning six games in succession to stamp her authority on proceedings.
Understandably, there were plenty of nerves early on with the pair, and there was one point which was particularly strange as Pavlyuchenkova left a ball which dropped in from Krejcikova.

'Wow, strange!' - Pavlyuchenkova 'doesn't even chase' ball against Krejcikova

In an extended and very tense deuce in just the second game of the match, the Russian totally misjudged a very bizarre scooped shot from Krejcikova which, to be fair, had a very unusual trajectory.
It certainly did not look like a conventional lob, but the Czech player somehow managed to retrieve a fine shot from Pavlyuchenkova, which was right in the corner of the court, flick it and get the ball to dip over her opponent's head and land in.
Pavlyuchenkova was not alone in looking totally stunned by the effort - so much so, she did not even turn and run after the ball as it dropped over her head.
Pavlyuchenkova, who had broken Krejcikova in the opening game of the match, essentially handed her opponent back the break of serve by not running for the ball, but she must simply have been too surprised to anticipate it.
There was a scary moment during the final as Krejcikova managed to slow herself as she ran into an advertising box.

'Dangerous!' - Krejcikova runs into advertising board, just avoids nasty injury

What no one wanted to see was either player sustain an unfortunate injury and thankfully this was narrowly avoided as Krejcikova managed to just slow herself in time as she made contact with an advertising board near the net.
The Czech did brilliantly to get to a ball from Pavlyuchenkova which drew her wide of the court, and she expertly softened the impact as she ran into a sponsor box by the side of the net.
It would be Pavlyuchenkova who sustained an injury at the end of the second set before she took the match into a decider - for which she received lengthy treatment.

'This is a worry' - Pavlyuchenkova sustains injury in final against Krejcikova

Both players threw everything they could at the final set with a maiden Grand Slam on the line for each, but it was the Czech who came up with the crucial break of serve when it really mattered.
It is a famous triumph for Krejcikova, who earlier in the tournament defeated fifth seed Elina Svitolina and American duo Sloane Stephens and Coco Gauff en route to Saturday's showpiece at Roland Garros.

'I'm super happy!' - Krejcikova reacts to unlikely French Open triumph

- - -
Watch all the action from the 2021 French Open live on Eurosport, and the Eurosport app with world number one Novak Djokovic facing fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the men's final on Sunday afternoon.
'Absolutely ludicrous decision' - Unpopular rule causes big fan disruption during match
23/05/2022 AT 13:38
Wimbledon confirms ban on Russian and Belarusian players for 2022
20/04/2022 AT 08:26