Barbora Krejcikova doubles up at French Open to make mark on history

Sport

Not since the 2000 edition of the French Open, when Mary Pierce followed her poignant, emotional singles revival by victoriously teaming up with the great Martina Hingis in doubles, had anyone done the double, winning singles and doubles titles at Roland Garros.

But over the past few days, Barbora Krejcikova has made the feat look easy. One day after a life-changing afternoon in her tennis career when she beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win a surprise first singles grand slam title, the Czech returned to the same court with her longtime partner, Katerina Siniakova, and they defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-2 in a match between the two most recent singles champions.

Krejcikova, 25, will now return to No 1 in the doubles rankings and after contesting 15 matches over the past few weeks and spending nearly 22 hours on court, including a quarter-final finish in the mixed doubles, she may now have a rest.

Afterwards, Krejcikova affirmed she will have to celebrate her double with some champagne, and some time at home, but Wimbledon is already near: “I’m just really looking forward to playing the next tournament and every tournament,” she said. “Right now, after all of this happened these last two weeks, also last days, I just feel really relieved and relaxed.

“I just know that from now on I can really enjoy it because I have pretty much achieved everything I always wanted. Now I can just improve. That’s the only thing I can do. Just keep improving as all the guys and all the ladies are doing.”

The comparison between Pierce and Krejcikova underlines the rarity of Krejcikova’s achievement. Pierce herself was a prodigiously talented player who was competing alongside one of the all-time great doubles players in Hingis. Krejcikova is treading a completely opposite route. She was simply returning to the discipline that was her primary source of income, pride and success for so long.

Krejcikova and Siniakova are unique. Doubles players do not usually reach No 1 at 22 years old, but they were one of the most dominant junior doubles teams in history. They teamed up for the first time at the junior French Open in 2013 simply because they had no one else to play with and they won the whole thing. They went on to win junior Wimbledon and the US Open that year, recording a 24-0 win-loss record in juniors as a team. By 2018 they had reached No 1 on the WTA, winning the French Open and Wimbledon.

For so much of their time together, Siniakova has been the better singles player. While Krejcikova struggled to break into the top 100, Siniakova easily reached the top 50 in 2016 aged 20, peaking at 31st, and has not left the top 100 since.

And yet it is Krejcikova who became the sixth consecutive first-time female grand slam champion to be crowned at Roland Garros and the third triumphant unseeded player during this period. She is probably the biggest surprise of all of those surprises but it is also a reminder that chaos rarely comes out of nothing.

Eight months ago at Roland Garros, she made her debut and reached the fourth round. Since then, she has established herself in the top 100. She reached the final of Dubai, the WTA 1000 tournament, without dropping a set in March.

In Rome a few weeks ago Krejcikova had Swiatek on the ropes, holding two match points before eventually losing 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-5. Then she won her first title in Strasbourg just before Roland Garros began.

She arrived in Paris full of confidence in her game and it allowed her game to flow in the good moments, to hold up through the tough ones and to mark her as a grand slam champion in both singles and doubles.