3 talking points from Barbora Krejcikova’s epic win over Maria Sakkari

Barbora Krejcikova came through a marathon encounter against 17th seed Maria Sakkari on Thursday, winning 7-5, 4-6, 9-7 to enter her first Grand Slam singles final. Krejcikova saved a match point before converting the fifth match point of her own to finally put an end to the longest women’s singles semifinal in Roland Garros history.

There was a fair bit of drama towards the end too. On Krejcikova’s fourth match point with Sakkari serving at 7-8, the Greek seemed to have hit a forehand long. Krejcikova was convinced it was out and even started celebrating, but the chair umpire pointed at a mark on the court and insisted that the ball was in.

Hawkeye replays agreed with the Czech and showed the ball to be out, but since Hawkeye is not used at Roland Garros, the two players continued on. Fortunately for Krejcikova, she soon got another match point in the same game – and this time she converted it without any controversy.

The Czech has been on the winning side of Grand Slam finals in the past, having captured five doubles Major titles. The singles final, however, will be new territory for her.

Krejcikova will look to give her all on Saturday to defuse the power of Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and lift her first singles Grand Slam trophy.

Making the final in just her fifth Grand Slam main draw, the 25-year-old has made quite a successful transition from doubles to singles. A pupil of the late Czech tennis legend Jana Novotna, Krejcikova paid rich tribute to her mentor in the on-court interview post her semifinal match.

“Jana Novotna from upstairs, she’s just really looking after me,” Krejcikova said. “I really miss her and I really want to thank her for… just because of her I’m here, it’s really important for me to say this out loud.”

With the match having turned into an instant classic, here’s a look at the major talking points from Krejcikova’s win over Sakkari.

1. Barbora Krejcikova’s active net game gave her the edge

Barbora Krejcikova
Barbora Krejcikova

Barbora Krejcikova’s varied skillset – largely acquired from her doubles experience – played a key role on Thursday. She won a whopping 76% of her net points by putting her footwork and reflexes to good use.

Sakkari’s attempts at drop shots were often futile, as Krejcikova chased down most of them to earn easy points.

The Czech’s net game has been quite consistent in the tournament so far. That facet of her game was also significant in her third-round upset win over fifth seed Elina Svitolina.

2. The serve made the difference in the decisive third set

Barbora Krejcikova serving
Barbora Krejcikova serving

After Barbora Krejcikova lost her serve early in the third to give Maria Sakkari the break, she didn’t get broken again until the end of the match. The first serve turned out to be crucial, as the Czech got 65% of her first serves in compared to the Greek’s 55%.

A string of wide serves from Krejcikova’s racket did plenty of damage as the match approached the end.

At 6-7 Sakkari’s serve faltered multiple times, producing three match points for her opponent. While she narrowly escaped from that hole, Krejcikova had little trouble holding her own service game to go ahead 8-7.

The difference in the nature of the two players’ service games eventually took its toll. A double fault and a bunch of weak second serves from Sakkari at 7-8 proved too costly, as the Czech broke decisively to claim her spot in Saturday’s final.

3. Barbora Krejcikova is one match away from becoming the first Czech champion at Roland Garros since 1981

Barbora Krejcikova
Barbora Krejcikova

Barbora Krejcikova is looking to become the first woman from her country since Hana Mandilikova in 1981 to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen. She is also the first Czech player to make the Roland Garros final since the now-retired Lucie Safarova in 2015.

In addition to her singles exploits, Krejcikova is still alive in doubles too. The 25-year-old will be taking the court for the doubles semifinal on Friday with compatriot Katerina Siniakova.

If she happens to sweep both the singles and doubles titles, Krejcikova will become the first woman to do so at the French Open since Mary Pierce in 2000.

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Written by bourbiza

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