Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova dominated the junior doubles circuit together five years ago and now they've done the same on the senior circuit. The two 22-year-olds, who became the first team to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon back-to-back this summer since Kim Clijsters and Ai Sugiyama in 2003, are the first team to qualify for the 2018 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
It is yet another fitting tribute to Krejcikova's former coach and WTA Legend Jana Novotna. The pair dedicated both their major titles to the Czech icon, who died of ovarian cancer last fall. Novotna won her sole major singles title at Wimbledon 20 years ago.
"She really deserves to think about her, like, in really good spirit, in really good way," Krejcikova said after winning Wimbledon in July. Krejcikova, who hails from Novotna's hometown of Brno, was coached by Novotna from 2014 to 2016. "I think it's really good that it was mentioned at Wimbledon, that she won the title here 20 years ago. It was her biggest title. She really wanted to win it, as I know from the stories she told me.
"All those emotions she was going through during her career to win the Grand Slam. I mean, right here, right now, like 20 years after her winning Grand Slam. It's only doubles, but still, it's perfect.
"I'm really happy that I could meet her, that she won the Wimbledon title back in 1998. I'm really, really proud. I think she would be really proud, too."
"The last time I saw her, she told me 'Go win a Slam.'" Krejcikova and Siniakova did one better. They went out and won two.
Krejcikova and Siniakova ruled the roost as a junior pairing, winning the girls' titles at the 2013 French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. They were just the third team to ever win three girls' Slam titles in a single season, joining a list that includes Timea Babos/Sloane Stephens in 2010, and Corina Morariu and Ludmila Varmuzova in 1995. The duo reteamed last fall and their connection yielded immediate success. They made Moscow semifinals in their first event together and started the 2018 season with a final run in Shenzhen.
But the duo began to pick up steam in the spring. They made their first Premier Mandatory final together at the Miami Open and then won their first senior title in style at the French Open. Then came the Channel Slam, as they became the first team in Wimbledon history to win both the girls and senior doubles titles.
"I think [our secret] is the communication between us because I feel like we can really communicate even if we do well or even if we don't do well," Krejcikova said. "So I think that's the key. That's the key why we just play that well.
"Katerina, she's really strong. She's playing powerful shots. Then, on the other hand, I'm totally the opposite person. I like to play with more spin, I like to do some kind of variations or something.
"I think when we just put it together, it's really matching. It's really hard for our opponents to play against us, I think."