Already a Grand Slam holder in doubles, this had been the year we had come to view her as a singles player beating (amongst others) Elina Svitolina, former finalist Sloane Stephens, Coco Gauff before a thrilling semi-final against Maria Sakkari.
Not for the first time, she looked tight at the start of the match, losing her first game, and having to fight to break straight back, after which she reeled off six straight games to take the first set, leaving Pavlyuchenkova to have to figure out how to reset from playing very reactively, to being more proactive.
Playing a lot more aggressively, and taking more risks, the Russian quickly leapt out to a 4-1 lead, but just as she was in the ascendency, a jarring injury saw her having to take a medical timeout, and with her movement hampered, she managed to close out the second set.
Krejcikova was the first to break in the decider, but Pavlyuchenkova came right back at her, but the Czech has shown to be cool, calm and collected when it counts the most and she broke once more.
She had two match points on the Russian’s serve, both saved, but made no mistake with the second on her own serve.
As she was leaving the junior ranks, Krejcikova sought out the help and guidance of the late, former Grand Slam champion Jana Novotna.
She had been off tennis for a month herself and when invited to come and hit with the star, she was not sure if she even had the strength to do it, but she did and the rest. Has become history.
She said, of her mentor: “I actually came to her and approach her, I didn’t really expect her reaction. I went there, I actually came from like an illness. I wasn’t really playing tennis for like month because I was just sick. I just went there. She was just very nice, very warm.
“She pretty much just told me, Go and play pro.”
Much like her predecessor, Iga Swiatek, Krejcikova worked with a sports psychologist during the tournament.
She said “I’ve been actually talking to her before every single match that I play since I played Sloane. It was really difficult. It was really hard. I’ve never been in a situation like this, not in the singles. I was a little bit panicking. I really wanted to win.
“On the other hand, I knew that if I really want to win, I’m just going to put so much pressure on myself, it’s not going to happen. We had the conversation about this. She just told me just to go and enjoy. We spoke about how to talk to myself, what to do when I’m going to feel nervous on court. Like simple things, what to do.”
Even Pavlyuchenkova, whose results in Madrid and here have sparked a resurgent in the tour veteran, has been working with and plans to continue to work with a sports psychologist.
“It started just before Madrid, like couple weeks before. I didn’t expect that I would really feel so much better on the court. I seriously felt a little at sometimes desperate. You work hard, you do everything, but something is off all the time.
“Then I just said to myself, You know what, I want to try everything. Like I want to improve my mentality. I want to improve my physical condition, my game, like everything.”
The men’s final will conclude Roland Garros 2021, not before 3pm (2pm BST).
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