PARIS — Barbora Krejcikova won the French Open Saturday, beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets.
For Krejcikova, 25, of the Czech Republic, the win marked the highlight of a late-blooming but suddenly exploding career, and capped a surprising tournament in which so many of the strongest players withdrew, retired, or were defeated early in the competition.
Krejcikova was not seeded at this tournament but was a sentimental favorite, capturing the crowd’s heart with her emotional post-match speeches filled with words of inspiration and tributes to her mentor and role model, the former Czech champion Jana Novotna, who died at 49 in 2017.
She has been best known in past years for her prowess in doubles and she will attempt to win that championship Sunday with her partner, Katerina Siniakova.
Krejcikova, 25, who was ranked outside the top 100 as recently as recently as last September, has one of the most multifaceted playing styles on the women’s tour.
She plays with any number of tricks and spins and possesses a dangerous moonball backhand that bounces high and can pin her opponents deep in the court. Power is not her thing, which makes her unusual in a sport obsessed with hitting hard. But what she lacks in power she makes up for in creativity.
In Pavlyuchenkova, 29, she faced a former teenage prodigy who had never made it past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. Despite that frustration, Pavlyuchenkova has displayed remarkable durability, playing in every Grand Slam between the 2008 French Open until the 2020 United States Open.
Other than a semifinal appearance in Madrid last month, Pavlyuchenkova’s performances the past six months gave few hints that she would have the run of her career at this French Open.
Despite Pavlyuchenkova’s advantages and bigger reputation, Krejcikova beguiled her on the biggest points, playing a form of tennis jujitsu that is rarely seen.