Czech tennis player Barbora Krejčíková has made headlines around the world after a fantastic run at the French Open so far. The 25-year-old reached her first Grand Slam semi-final after beating 17-year-old American Cori Gauff in Paris on Wednesday.
Barbora Krejčíková is primarily known as a doubles specialist, having won two Grand Slam titles, including one at Roland Garros three years ago. However, she has recently proved that she can be equally as good in the singles. Last month, Krejčíková lifted her first WTA singles title in Strasbourg and by defeating the US prodigy Coco Gauff, she has extended her winning streak on clay to ten matches.
The first set of the game was tightly contested, with Gauff holding altogether five set points. However, the Czech tennis player managed to hold out, eventually winning 7:6 and 6:3.
Speaking at a press conference after her win, Krejčíková said that despite being labelled a doubles specialist, she always believed she could make the grade as a singles player.
“I was just working hard all the time and I just wanted to play singles. It was really frustrating that I wasn’t able to get there.
“But I always felt that if I worked hard and tried to be patient, which is not really my thing, that sooner or later, I would succeed and have a chance to play all these top players.
“I just really appreciate that I am here. That I am playing tennis, that I can do what I love to do and that I can play all these amazing athletes.
“It’s very nice when I have a match point, being able to raise my hands and really just enjoy the moment. That’s where I always wanted to be.”
The modest Czech also paid a poignant tribute to her late coach Jana Novotna, the former Wimbledon champion, who died of cancer in 2017, saying she thinks of her every time she steps on court and wonders what she would have to say after the match:
"I guess she would just tell me that she's very proud. That's what I think she would do. She would just tell me 'Just enjoy, keep going'.
“It doesn't matter if you win or lose, you just have to do your best every single time you step on court, just focus on tennis, just play.
"She would just be jumping and screaming. That's how I remember her. That's actually what she was doing when I played ITFs. So I guess maybe it would be even bigger right now."
By reaching the French Open semi-final, Krejčíková matched her late coach, who made it to the last four at Roland Garros in 1990 and again in 1996.
If she defeats Maria Sakkari of Greece, Krejčíková could become the first Czech woman to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup since Hana Mandlíkova in 1981. Whatever the result, Krejčíková says this is more than she ever dreamed of.