Czech underdog Barbora Krejcikova looked calm throughout her milestone win over Sloane Stephens at the French Open but looks can be deceiving.
The world No.33 crushed former finalist Stephens 6-2, 6-0, to reach the last eight at Roland Garros in what is only her fifth appearance in a Grand Slam main draw as a singles player. Krejcikova is also an established doubles specialist who has won two major titles, as well as reached the top of the standings. Against Stephens she dropped only five points behind her first serve and saved all three break points she face.
Ironically the biggest battle for the Czech seems to have taken place in the lead-up to her fourth round encounter. Krejcikova admitted that she woke up with a case of pre-match nerves which was so bad she was in tears and having to be consoled by her psychologist.
“I actually really don’t know what happened today. I just woke up and felt really bad,” she revelled in her press conference.
“I just felt really stressed. I don’t know why or what for. Half an hour before the match, I didn’t even want to step on the court because I just really felt really bad.”
“I had to, like, lock myself in the physio room and I had to talk to my psychologist. I was actually crying. I just felt really, really bad and I don’t know why.”
The experience of the 25-year-old sheds light on the mental pressure players face on the Tour, especially when it comes to playing in Grand Slams. The biggest tournaments of the sport which offer the most prize money and ranking points. Krejcikova says it was her psychologist who helped settle her down before heading to court.
“We talk about it a lot and she told me this is something — if you can overcome this, what you feel right now, it’s going to be a huge win, and it doesn’t matter if you’re gonna win on the court or lose on the court because it’s going to be a personal win,” she said.
“I just went on court, and I know that it didn’t look like it, but I just felt really, really bad.’
“I was just happy that I started well. I think after the first point things got a little bit better, a little bit easier. Then I broke her (Stephens). I just felt like I can actually play her.’
Overcoming her demons in Paris, Krejcikova will play rising star Coco Gauff next who is another player dealing with the pressure of being in the limelight. The 17-year-old is the youngest woman to reach the last eight of a major in 15 years and is on the verge of cracking into the world’s top 20.
“I don’t know how I would approach this if I was 17 and I was actually doing this well. I think it would be just too much pressure for me and maybe I won’t be able to handle this,” she commented on Gauff’s meteoric rise.
“Everybody is different. Everybody is doing different things. She’s doing really good in singles. She is also a great doubles player.
“I think it really depends on the person, how they feel and how open they can be and how mature they are. Then it depends how well you can handle all this press, if you win or if you lose. It can be really nice and it can be really difficult.”
The subject of mental health in tennis has been highlighted at the French Open following the withdrawal of Naomi Osaka. Osaka issued a statement last week revealing that she has been battling with depression and social anxiety since 2018. She is currently taking a break from the sport.
Krejcikova will play Gauff on Wednesday.
Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Wimbledon Points Removal
The world No.1 states that he will always support the views of his peers.
By Kingsley Elliot Kaye
In his press conference following his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open, Novak Djokovic expressed his views about the ATP decision to remove points from Wimbledon.
Negatively affected by such a decision – he will drop 2000 points – the world No.1 praised the ATP’s stance and called for players’ unity.
“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there are going to be some consequences. So I support the players, unification always. I have always done that. I will always do that.” He said.
Djokovic criticized the lack of communication between the parties involved, in particular with regard to a document of recommendation by the English Government which contained diverse options. Had it been discussed by the All England Club with ATP and players, a compromise may have been reached.
“I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But, you know, during these times, it’s a super sensitive subject, and anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification.” He continued.
Djokovic also mentioned other suggestions coming from WTA and ATP, that possibly men’s and women’s players from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia could play together at some exhibition event during the slam or something like this and prize money could go to the victims in Ukraine. There were different ideas, but there was never really a strong communication coming from Wimbledon.
He stressed that removing the points from Wimbledon, therefore not allowing players to earn or to defend points, is a decision that affects everyone, a lose-lose situation for everyone, as he called it.
Nonetheless, the charm and prestige of Wimbledon shall rest unaltered and its meaningfulness extends far beyond: “A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child. You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else.”
Emma Raducanu Confident Fitness Is Improving After Maiden French Open Win
The world No.12 is playing in the main draw of a major for only the fourth time in her career.
British No.1 Emma Raducanu says she ‘felt really good’ during her roller-coaster win in the first round of the French Open.
The reigning US Open champion was forced to comeback from a set down to oust Czech qualifier Linda Noskova 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-1, after more than two-and-a-half hours of play. Noskova won the French Open girls title 12 months ago. Raducanu was on the verge of suffering a shock loss after going down a break twice during the second set before fighting her way back to force the match into a decider which she won with relative ease.
“It’s definitely a tough match to get through, and I’m really, really happy with the way that I regrouped after losing a set 7-6, which is always tough, having had some chances,” Raducanu said afterwards.
“To fight back, I was really pleased.”
This season is the first time Raducanu has played in the main draw of the French Open as a professional player. She had previously featured in the junior competition four years ago where she lost in the second round to Denmark’s Clara Tauson. She has now played at least one match in all four major events.
Comparing the tournaments, the Brit says the ‘vibes’ she feels are similar to that of what she experienced at the US Open where she made history by becoming the first qualifier to win the title. In New York she won 10 matches in a row without dropping a set.
“I think that the French Open, I’d say it gives me similar vibes to the US Open just because of the crowd and just how involved they get. It’s a complete contrast to Wimbledon where it’s dead silent. You can actually hear a pin drop before you serve. It’s incredible,” she explains.
“It definitely took some getting used to, but when I went out there (on court), I was honestly just enjoying it, and I don’t take any of anything personally.
“You can actually say anything to me. So when I was on the court and you get people shouting things it didn’t really affect me at all.”
Noskova is the eighth player Raducanu has managed to defeat on the WTA Tour during what has been a mixed 2022 season so far. Heading into Paris, she has managed to win back-to-back matches in just two out of eight tournaments played. Part of the reason for the lopsided results has been physical issues with a back injury forcing her to retire from the Italian Open earlier this month.
However, the world No.12 is confident that her physical fitness is heading in the right direction. In recent months she has explored various training set ups and has gone through three different coaches. The latest being Torben Beltz who she ended her collaboration with after just five months together.
“I think that it is definitely improving,” she said of her physicality. “One thing that I have been doing in the lead-up for this week and the whole of last week, I was doing a lot in the gym, a lot before practice, after practice, just keeping all the muscles fired up. It’s something I probably haven’t really done before, train through tournaments.’
“I am pretty pleased with how I was out there physically, and I feel really good, to be honest.”
Raducanu, who is seeded 12th in the French Open draw, will take on Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the second round.
Corentin Moutet beats Stan Wawrinka at Roland Garros
Corentin Moutet battled past 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 after 2 hours and 54 minutes to reach the second round on Court Suzanne Lenglen at Roland Garros. Moutet broke six times and hit 33 winners.
Moutet, who is making his fifth apperance at Roland Garros, had not won a match at the home Grand Slam since 2019.
Moutet leads 2-0 in his head-to-head matches against Wawrinka, who beat Djokovic in the French Open final in 2015. The Swiss player was playing in just his third tour-level tournament of the season after returning from injury last month.
Wawrinka broke twice in the fourth and eighth games to win the first set 6-2 in 28 minutes after two double faults from Moutet.
Moutet earned an early break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Wawrinka served to stay in the set at 3-5, but Moutet broke for the second time to seal the second set 6-3.
Moutet broke at love in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Wawrinka saved two set points at 2-5 before breaking back in the ninth game to draw level to 5-5. Moutet earned four mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2.
Moutet won the final four games from 2-2 with two breaks to seal the fourth set 6-2.
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