Barbora Krejcikova charged to her first WTA singles title on Saturday with an emphatic 6-3, 6-3 victory over Sorana Cirstea in the Internationaux de Strasbourg final.
The third time was the charm for No.5 seed Krejcikova, as she emerged victorious in her third career WTA singles final, following runner-up showings at 2017 Nurnberg (lost to Kiki Bertens) and in Dubai earlier this year (lost to Garbiñe Muguruza).
"There’s been a lot of emotions on the court," Krejcikova told the press, after her milestone win. "I have so many things on my mind right now. It’s really hard to put it in sentences."
The run continues a breakthrough year in singles for 25-year-old Krejcikova, who is currently at a career-high singles ranking of World No.38 and has posted an 18-8 singles record in 2021.
A long-desired singles title can now be added to Krejcikova's myriad doubles accomplishments. The former WTA Doubles World No.1 has eight career doubles titles, including two Grand Slam titles alongside her regular partner Katerina Siniakova.
Krejcikova becomes the third Czech woman to win the Strasbourg singles title, following her late mentor Jana Novotna in 1989 and Nicole Vaidisova in 2006.
Krejcikova said her title run was "more emotional" due to the connection to former champion Novotna. The International Tennis Hall of Famer passed away in 2017.
"I think from somewhere above me, she was really looking after me, and she was helping me with the lines, and she really wanted me to win," Krejcikova said. "I’m just really happy that I was able to do that, and that she was looking after me."
Fated: Barbora Krejcikova says she got a text from Jana Novotna’s former coach telling her that @WTA_Strasbourg was Jana’s 1st clay title. Novotna was her coach before she passed.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) May 29, 2021
“He said, ‘I hope I’m not going to stress you out. I said, ‘If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”
In the third meeting between Krejcikova and Cirstea, it was the Czech who won 73 percent of her first-service points, while Cirstea won less than half of her own. Krejcikova did have to survive 10 double faults before taking the one-hour and 39-minute victory and improving to 2-1 against Cirstea.
"I felt I was struggling with the serve already yesterday, and today I was struggling with the serve," Krejcikova said. "But I just knew that it was going to be like this, and I was looking to find another way to win the match. To somehow fight for the ball each point, and just find a way to win the rally, somehow, even if my serve doesn’t work and it’s not really helping me.
"Actually at the end, at 5-3, I was serving really well! So I don’t know what happened, it’s been up and down."
A lengthy opening game set the tone for the match as Krejcikova broke on her third opportunity, and she continued her roll from there, firing winners down the line with aplomb to build a 4-0 lead.
Cirstea saved two set points at 5-2 and eventually broke in that game with deep returning, edging closer in the set. Krejcikova, though, earned her third set point in the very next game, which she converted with a forehand winner.
Five of the first six games in the second set went against serve, and it was Krejcikova who ultimately held the lead after that run, once a divine lob winner put her up 4-2. Serving for the match at 5-3, Krejcikova zipped to a love hold, and she had at last picked up a singles trophy at the highest level.
"I’m just really proud of myself and I’m really happy that I had an amazing week," Krejcikova said. "I feel so tired right now, but I’m going to be alright!"
In Saturday's doubles final, No.1 seeds Alexa Guarachi and Desirae Krawczyk notched their second team title of the season with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Makoto Ninomiya and Yang Zhaoxuan.
Guarachi and Krawczyk, the 2020 Roland Garros runners-up, also teamed up for the title in Adelaide earlier this year. Guarachi claimed a third title in 2021 as well, in Dubai alongside Darija Jurak.
Overall, this is the fifth WTA doubles title for Guarachi and sixth for Krawcyzk in their careers. Four of those titles have come together in their fruitful partnership.
Guarachi and Krawczyk needed an hour and ten minutes to dispatch Ninomiya and Yang. The top seeds broke the unseeded duo five times en route to victory.