Barbora Krejcikova Opens Up About Her Pre-Match Panic After Milestone French Open Win - UBITENNIS
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Barbora Krejcikova Opens Up About Her Pre-Match Panic After Milestone French Open Win

Following her fourth round win at Roland Garros, Krejcikova shed light on her personal battle with nerves.

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image via https://twitter.com/rolandgarros/

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.

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Daniil Medvedev Searching For Confidence Boost Ahead Of Wimbledon

The two-time Grand Slam finalist says he is not the same player as he was two years ago when he last played Wimbledon.

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When it comes to playing on the grass this year Daniil Medvedev admits that the biggest issue for him might concern the mental side of the sport as opposed to the physical side.

 

The world No.2 kicked-off his grass swing last week in Halle where he was stunned in the first round by Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the Tour in 2020, that was the first time the Russian had played a match on the surface in almost two years. Short on matches, Medvedev is back in action this week in Mallorca after taking a wildcard into the tournament.

“I like to play on grass, I just need to get some confidence in my game on the surface, because we didn’t play [on it] for two years. Two years ago, I was not the same player as I am right now,” Medvedev told atptour.com. “It is tough for me to say where I see myself, but I know I can play very good on this surface. I just need to find the right balance.”

Since he last played at Wimbledon, Medvedev surged on the ATP Tour by winning six titles with all of them being on a hardcourt. Furthermore, he also reached the final of the US Open in 2019 and the Australian Open this year. He is the first player outside of the Big Four to be ranked in the world’s top two since July 2005.

Despite his previous success on the grass, Medvedev admits he remains wary about playing on the surface and the conditions he may face.

“When I started playing on grass, I played in Challengers and even in [ATP] Tour tournaments on the outside courts, not on the central courts, and I can tell that the central courts are quite slow,” he said. “Especially the match I played with Gilles Simon at Queen’s [Club], we had rallies of 40 shots every second point. That is what makes it a little bit tougher.
“When I practise on practice courts, I feel like I am playing so good as the ball is so fast. Then I come onto the centre court to play the match, and the ball just stops after the bounce, and you have to adapt your game, so it can be tough. But I know I can play really well on grass.”

In Mallorca Medvedev has a bye in the first round. His opening match will be against either South Africa’s Lloyd Harris or France’s Corentin Moutet.

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Samsonova Battles Past Bencic To Win Maiden Title In Berlin, Gets Wimbledon Wild Card

The Russian qualifier has stunned the tournament with a run that also seen her defeat Madison Keys and Victoria Azarenka.

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image via https://twitter.com/bett1open

Liudmila Samsonova is the 2021 Bett1 Open champion after pulling off another upset by beating number five seed Belinda Bencic 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 in front of a capacity crowd on Steffi Graff Stadion under hot and humid conditions.

 

The 22-year-old underdog caps off what has been a fairytale run in Germany for the qualifier. Prior to the tournament Samsonova had never beaten a top 20 player in her career or reached a Tour final. Against Bencic she hit 28 winners to 15 unforced errors and won 66% of her service points.

” I was so nervous today even before the match and during the first set so after the first set I took a toilet break and told myself to play a more aggressive game and it worked,” Samsonova said following her triumph.

It was world No.12 Bencic who got off to a fast start by holding serve comfortably and than the following game setting up the first break chance with a return forehand winner before the Russian would double fault twice in a row to give the early break. At 3-0 the Swiss found herself again at double breakpoint and managed to seal the it en route to taking the first set in just 28 minutes.

However, the second set was the total opposite with underdog Samsonova holding serve and breaking the very next game with a powerful forehand winner. Like Bencic in the first set, she turned her lead into a double break and served out the second set.

The Russian carried the momentum into the third and deciding set earning a chance to break in the first game and the world No.12 would double fault to give the break. At 4-2 the world No.106 had a chance to go up a double break but Bencic managed to save it and hold serve before going on the offensive. The Swiss had two chances of her own to go back on serve but the Russian saved all three breakpoints she faced.

At 5-3 the Samsonova had two chances to seal the match and the title on her opponents serve. Bencic saved the first one but the world number 106 would seal the win on the second.

In her post match press conference Samsonova explained how once she levelled the match was able to close it out.

” I was trying to keep my game going and try to be aggressive on my first shot and my serve and on the return and that is what I was focusing on”.

The young Russian now has her sights sets on Wimbledon as she awarded a main draw wild card after the match.

“They just told me that I’m going to have the wildcard for the main draw, so I’m so happy,” she said.

Samsonova is the 10th first-time WTA champion this season.

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Victoria Azarenka, Aryna Sabalenka To Team Up For Olympic Bid

The two players say their main focus is on playing singles but a ‘great opportunity’ has presented itself.

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image via https://twitter.com/bett1open

The two highest ranked WTA players from Belarus are being considered as strong contenders to win an Olympic medal later this year after they recently confirmed plans to join forces.

 

Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka are set to play in the women’s doubles tournament despite only playing together five times before on the WTA Tour. The duo has illustrated their potential at the Bett1 Open in Berlin, where they clinched the title on Sunday. In the final the pair upset top seeds Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs 4-6, 7-5, 10-7, to claim their first ever trophy together.

We both brought a different level, mindset than a few years ago. It was important to play together to feel each other’s game, see what we can try, apply what works, what we can work on. Our priority is singles but it’s a great opportunity at the Olympics to team up,” WTA Insider quoted Azarenka as saying following the final on Sunday.

Whilst they are both best known for their singles game, they have also had previous success in the doubles. Sabalenka won the 2019 US Open and 2021 Australian Open alongside Elise Mertens, as well as three Premier titles.

“We’ll play at the Olympics. To win a title, it gives us a lot of confidence and we feel each other better and players will know that we are playing good with each other and it’s more confidence for us and more pressure for other players,” the world No.4 commented.

Azarenka has already enjoyed success at the Olympics in her career. In 2012 she defeated Russia’s Maria Kirilenko in straight sets to win a bronze medal. During the same year she won gold in the mixed doubles alongside Max Mirnyi. Making her the only Belarusian tennis player in history to have won multiple Olympic medals.

This year’s Tokyo Olympic tennis tournament will be held at the Ariake Tennis Park and will get underway on July 24th.

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