PARIS -- Barbora Krejcikova is keeping her expectations in check as she prepares for her title defense at Roland Garros. She is happy to be back on court again after an elbow injury has kept her sidelined since February. There are no guarantees in Paris, but Krejcikova, the World No.2, is looking at the long game, with the eye toward rebuilding the game that forged her into one of the best players of 2021.
"I don't really expect much," Krejcikova told reporters at Media Day. "I don't think expecting is something good for me. Expecting myself to do well after being injured for a long time, I don't really think that.
"But I think that I can be a good opponent. I think I can play well. And even after being injured, I think I had some time to recover and to practice, so I have been preparing for this.
"So I believe when I start playing matches, I can be really dangerous again and I can do well here as well."
Krejcikova put together a fairytale run to not one but two titles last year in Paris. Unseeded in singles and buoyed by memories of her coach Jana Novotna, the 26-year-old ran through the field, which included wins against Elina Svitolina, Sloane Stephens, Coco Gauff and Maria Sakkari, against whom she saved match points in the semifinal. She would go on to sweep the titles, winning doubles with partner Katerina Siniakova.
"Last year nobody, not even me, nobody really expected that I'm gonna win in singles and doubles," Krejcikova said. "Being back here and being able to play and to play such a big tournament, such a big Grand Slam again, so many nice memories from last year."
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Krejcikova did not expect to be sidelined for as long as she was. After starting the season strong with a run to the Sydney final and Australian Open quarterfinals, her last match came in Doha, a Round of 16 loss against Jelena Ostapenko. She believes the matches she played since last spring caught up to her.
"I think it was just so many matches, and I felt at some point I need to rest," she said. "I mean, my body told me that I have to rest.
"I was off for quite a long time. I didn't expect it, to be honest. But I'm healthy right now. So I'm looking forward to build up with matches and to get back to the form."
Krejcikova opted to skip playing a tournament before Paris. With each day she has added to her preparation.
"Yesterday I have been practicing with Maria [Sakkari], which was really a very nice practice, and this was on Lenglen," she said. "And I feel really good after, today. I'm happy with the progress."
Krejcikova's three-month stint on the sidelines also gave her a break from the mental part of the game. Her rise last year gave her little time to revel in her success and kept her away from home for far too long. She says it wasn't until a month ago that she felt the itch to get back.
"I spent a lot of time with my family, also a lot of time with my friends," she said. "I was doing something different. I was more into cultural stuff. I went to the theatre and I also met so many new people that gave me a lot of inspiration from different parts of life.
"So I was also just doing a lot of recovery and I was really hoping to come back as soon as possible. I'm really happy to be back, but also, I really enjoyed the time that I was able to spend at home and also to get some new visions from other people."