How important is luck in the life of a tennis player? As the famous adage goes, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. But for Barbora Krejcikova, it's even better to be both.
After saving four match points in her second round against Daria Kasatkina, Krejcikova, 27, showed resilience throughout the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where she became only the fifth player in Hologic WTA Tour history to defeat the reigning Top 3-ranked players at a single event.
Along the way to her biggest title since winning the 2021 French Open, Krejcikova snapped World No.2 and Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka's 13-match win streak in the quarterfinals and ousted No.3 Jessica Pegula in the semifinals. Krejcikova then saved her best for last in a near-flawless performance to defeat No.1 Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-2 in Saturday's final to capture her sixth WTA title.
Krejcikova joined the WTA Insider Podcast to discuss the keys to winning her first WTA 1000 title.
WTA Insider: What does this week mean to you?
Krejcikova: I have to say, it's big. It was a big tournament for me, a big week for me. It was definitely a very difficult week at the beginning of the week because after Australia I lost in the second round, then in the first round. Two tough matches.
I was looking for some self-confidence because I was playing well, I felt I'm playing well, but I'm losing. That was tough to understand why is this happening. Why am I missing the luck?
But definitely this week, everything came together. I think especially in the match with Daria where I saved all those match points, I was able to actually put the luck on my side, finally. From there on, I was enjoying the tennis more and I think with every single match I was just getting better and better.
WTA Insider: What is the role of luck for a tennis player?
Krejcikova: I played players in these last weeks, they were Top 15. They're the best players. They're on top of the world. The matches are super close. It's never easy, it's always super close.
I feel sometimes the way that you sleep and wake up and you feel and then you get the luck during the match. That's what's deciding the matches because we all know how to play forehands and backhands and you all have good serves and good returns, we all know how to run.
At the end, you need to be a little bit more lucky than the other player because the levels are just super close.
WTA Insider: It seemed like after the Kasatkina match, there was such clarity in how you wanted to play your tennis.
Krejcikova: I really had to work really hard, otherwise, I wouldn't break it and put the luck on my side because without the hard work it's not going to happen.
In that match when I was down I was still fighting. I told myself, 'OK, you're not going to give it to her.' I just fight for every single ball and maybe thing's are going to change. This can be the match that's going to change everything. So that was pretty much my attitude.
WTA Insider: How does this title compare to winning Roland Garros?
Krejcikova: I mean the French Open, I was a rookie. I didn't really know what to expect. I think I developed so much, tennis-wise but also mental-wise. I really have to say that after winning that Kasatkina match, I really started to be much calmer and I just started to enjoy tennis again a little bit more.
When I played in Paris, it was a great achievement, but I didn't really have time to enjoy it. I didn't really have time to actually celebrate it and to really understand what is happening. Now I feel I was able to understand it here more.
Definitely I played much higher-ranked players here than in Paris. So it adds a little nicer feeling and more confidence that I can actually play with the best ones and I can actually beat the best ones.
WTA Insider: You've now beaten Iga in your past two matches, both in finals. Is this a rivalry that you think can elevate both your games?
Krejcikova: When I see what she's doing and what she was able to achieve and how she's playing and how she's unbeatable just everything that she's doing at such a young age, it just really motivates me. It's a great feeling if I can go and practice with her or play a match against her. That is such a big challenge for me when I'm playing her. I always play her with full stands and a pretty amazing atmosphere that I really enjoy.
DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPION 2023 🏆🇦🇪🦁🇨🇿❤️#tennis #wta1000 #dubai #uae #champion #ddftennis #filatennis #dubaidutyfree #jpmorgan #barborakrejcikova @WTA @DDFTennis @FILAtennis pic.twitter.com/ZSZzHsXExM— Barbora Krejcikova (@BKrejcikova) February 26, 2023
WTA Insider: I see you're taking the trophy on the plane with you. You must be very excited to bring it home.
Krejcikova: This is mine and I'm not leaving it anywhere. I want to bring it home as soon as possible. My first coach is definitely coming to my parent's house tomorrow. He's having camps with the kids so then I will visit the kids. I'm going to show them the trophy. I like to give back to the kids and to motivate them.
I'm pretty happy when I have this opportunity to bring the trophies home. It gives me extra energy when I'm on the court and I'm fighting for that. I know that there are so many people behind me and they're supporting me and they believe in me. Even when I'm alone there, I feel that there are many people behind me that I know well and they just want me to win.
WTA Insider: Last question for you: Is Barbora back?
Krejcikova: I mean, we will see. It's a long way. It's still a long way. This is a really good tournament, a great start of the season, but I have to go step by step. It's a very long season and a very difficult season. So many players play well. So definitely a huge challenge for me and I'm looking forward to it.
I have to stay healthy, that is the most important thing. But I believe if I can manage all this well, I can do well and I believe I can play at the highest level that I have.