Barbora Krejcikova can add Grand Slam singles champion to her impressive doubles resume after capturing the Roland Garros title 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 over No.31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in one hour and 58 minutes.
Krejcikova becomes the first Czech woman to lift the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen since Hana Mandlikova (playing for the former Czechoslovakia) in 1981 - and fittingly, she was presented with the trophy by Czech-born legend Martina Navratilova. The World No.33 is also the third unseeded champion in Paris in the past five years, following Jelena Ostapenko in 2017 and Iga Swiatek in 2020. She will make her Top 20 debut at World No.15 in next week's WTA rankings.
After two contrasting sets in which both players took it in turns to dominate, it was Krejcikova who found a timely purple patch of form to surge to the title from 3-3 in the final set. Pavlyuchenkova, who was hampered by a leg injury that necessitated a medical timeout in the second set, battled hard to save three championship points, but sent a backhand over the baseline on a fourth.
The 25-year-old already owns two Grand Slam trophies in women's doubles and three in mixed doubles. Three years ago, she lifted the first of those at Roland Garros alongside Katerina Siniakova, and became doubles World No.1 the same season.
Barbora Krejcikova's major trophy cabinet
2013 Roland Garros girls' doubles (with Katerina Siniakova)
2013 Wimbledon girls' doubles (with Katerina Siniakova)
2013 US Open girls' doubles (with Katerina Siniakova)
2018 Roland Garros women's doubles (with Katerina Siniakova)
2018 Wimbledon women's doubles (with Katerina Siniakova
2019 Australian Open mixed doubles (with Rajeev Ram)
2020 Australian Open mixed doubles (with Nikola Mektic)
2021 Australian Open mixed doubles (with Rajeev Ram)
2021 Roland Garros women's singles
Her singles surge has been delayed, but extraordinarily rapid. As recently as last September, Krejcikova had yet to crack the Top 100 in singles, and this was just her fifth major main draw after 15 qualifying losses between 2014 and 2019. Only two women have won a Grand Slam title with fewer main draw showings under their belts - Monica Seles and Bianca Andreescu, who were crowned champion in their fourth major.
Nor has she left doubles behind. Krejcikova is also in this year's doubles final with Siniakova, and tomorrow she will endeavour to become the first player since Mary Pierce in 2000 to capture both singles and doubles titles in Paris.
"It's something I have always dreamed about," she said. "Winning here, my first doubles title, then winning the mixed ones. Now I was just telling myself, It would be really nice if I can get the Grand Slam in all three categories. Now it's happening. I cannot believe it. Wow."
Krejcikova also becomes the third woman in the Open Era to win Roland Garros after facing match point en route, joining Anastasia Myskina in 2004 and Justine Henin in 2005. Krejcikova saved one in her overtime 7-5, 4-6, 9-7 semifinal victory over Maria Sakkari.
Both of this year's Grand Slam champions have fended off match point en route to their titles - Australian Open winner Naomi Osaka saved two in her fourth round against Garbiñe Muguruza.
Remarkably, Krejcikova only won her first WTA singles title two weeks ago in Strasbourg. She becomes the first player to lift a Grand Slam trophy after winning a tournament the week before since Victoria Azarenka captured both Sydney and the Australian Open in 2012, and the first to do so at Roland Garros since 1983, when Chris Evert won Berlin in the preceding week. Krejcikova is now on a 12-match winning streak.
There were plenty of threads running through a clash of surprise first-time major finalists ranked just one place apart who had never played each other before, from how their games would match up to who would handle the occasion better.
Krejcikova has spoken about how, ahead of her fourth-round victory over Sloane Stephens, she needed to lock herself in the physio room and talk to her psychologist due to her severe pre-match panic. She has been repeating that before each match since.
"I'm just really happy that I was able to handle it as I did," she said. "Mentally I think that was the biggest key. I just knew that as soon as I'm going to enter the court, I'm not going to be panicking any more. That was actually happening. I was really happy about that.
"I've been actually talking to [my psychologist] before every single match that I play since I played Sloane. It was really difficult. I've never been in a situation like this, not in the singles. I was a little bit panicking. I really wanted to win.
"On the other hand, I knew that if I really want to win, I'm just going to put so much pressure on myself, it's not going to happen. We had the conversation about this. She just told me just to go and enjoy. We spoke about how to talk to myself, what to do when I'm going to feel nervous on court. Like simple things, what to do.
"Also she gave me a lot of courage to actually go on court, just be happy that I'm actually there. All of this... it's a big achievement that nobody really expected, not even me. She just told me, Just be happy, just go out there. It's going to be finals, but just take it as a regular match, pretty much as a practice match that you just want to improve. Just go with this attitude and you see. You're going to make it or it's going to come next time."
Initially, it was Krejcikova who seemed more nervous, coughing up two double faults to get broken off the bat. But she wasted no time in settling down - and proceeded to run off the next six games, striking 13 winners along the way. Her ability to conjure sudden changes of direction flummoxed Pavlyuchenkova, and she backed it up with several nifty dropshots.
Facing break point at the start of the second set, the Russian was desperately searching for a foothold. She found it by going back to her core strengths: power. A pummeling drive volley fended off danger, and a game later a booming backhand down the line captured the Krejcikova serve and put Pavlyuchenkova in control.
In contrast to Krejcikova, Pavlyuchenkova was playing her 52nd Grand Slam main draw, and had already broken the record for the most number played before reaching a maiden final. Fifteen years ago, in her No.1 junior year of 2006, she had been denied the Roland Garros girls' title by Agnieszka Radwanska.
In the second set, 29-year-old Pavlyuchenkova harnessed her weight of shot with the focus of someone determined not to let another final slip away. She landed 10 winners to six unforced errors; tweaking her leg on her first set point and a subsequent medical timeout seemed to merely sharpen her game on resumption.
Afterwards, Pavlyuchenkova explained that the injury had been one she sustained during her third-round win over Aryna Sabalenka.
"I have to be honest, I wasn't mentioning because I was still in the tournament," she said. "I didn't want my opponents to hear. But the Sabalenka match, I was actually in a really bad shape physically. I don't know how I even won that match because I also had a medical treatment there, I had to wrap my leg.
"I've struggled with my knees for a while, with my left knee. That caused a lot of pain in my knee after because I compensate a lot in my body. Actually in the third set during the Sabalenka match, I said to myself, If I win this match, I'm going to cry. It's such a shame, I play so good, but my body says this to me: I don't want to continue."
Fittingly, the decider saw both players deliver their best tennis at the same time. Krejcikova edged ahead with the first break to lead 2-1; Pavlyuchenkova responded by unleashing on a thrilling, full-force forehand to level at 2-2.
At 3-3, it was Krejcikova who found her zone. Consecutive winners, one off each wing, captured the Pavlyuchenkova serve again. Two games later another three, including an exquisite dropshot, brought up double championship point.
Clutch serving from Pavlyuchenkova would force Krejcikova to serve out the title - but this was a task she proved up to, much like everything else she has attempted over the course of a dream fortnight.
Afterwards, she paid tribute to late former mentor Jana Novotna, the 1998 Wimbledon champion who passed away due to cancer in 2017. Krejcikova spoke movingly about the bond they built up towards the end of Novotna's life.
"Jana was really special to me," said Krejcikova. "She pretty much just told me, Go and play pro. When I found out that she [was] sick, and when I found out it's not going to end up really well, I felt like she was giving me so much of her experience, so much of her power, of her attitude. She [taught] me so many things that I just felt at the end of her life I have to be there. I have to really support her.
"I wasn't really handling the situation well. My parents were telling me not to go, because they've seen how it's actually ruining me. But I just felt like I have to go and support her. I felt that if I'm going to go through this process and help her and support her, it's going to give me a lot of strength. Then I'm going to appreciate a lot of things more.
"I felt that I have to do it for myself, just so I feel that I was there, that I was supporting her, as she was supporting me when I started.
"I also think that she was also happy that I was there. That's why she's looking after me right now. That's actually why I have this many Grand Slams, because she's somewhere above looking after me. She wants me to win. She knows what it means to me, and I know what it would mean to her."