“I knew I had to grow up” Former world No.1 reveals how the pandemic has helped
The path that takes a player from being successful in singles to enjoying a new lease of life in doubles is a well-trodden one, but Barbora Krejcikova is taking it in reverse.
The 24-year-old Czech has made her name largely as a doubles player, having won two Grand Slam titles alongside her compatriot Katerina Siniakova and two more in mixed doubles with Rajeev Ram and Nikola Mektic. She has also topped the world doubles rankings, but until this month she had never broken the top 100 in singles, despite continuing with her singles career alongside her doubles commitments.
Since the resumption of tournaments, however, Krejcikova’s singles form has taken a marked turn for the better. Until this summer she had only ever won one singles match at a Grand Slam tournament, but at Roland Garros last month she beat both Barbora Strycova and Tsevtana Pironkova before losing in the fourth round to Nadia Podoroska. She followed that up in Ostrava by beating Tereza Martincova and taking a set off Victoria Azarenka before the former Australian Open champion recovered to deny her a place in the quarter-finals.
The run in Paris took Krejcikova into the world’s top 100 for the first time. “I’m really happy because top 100 was for a long time one of my big goals,” she said. “I think I was really close twice, just a few points short of getting into the top 100, but I was never able to do that.”
Krejcikova said that the coronavirus shutdown helped her to develop a new mental approach. She explained: “I told myself: ‘If I never make it, it’s all right, because I’ve done some big stuff in doubles and mixed.’ I just decided that I wasn’t going to think about it any more. I would just enjoy my tennis and try to do my best on court. And out of nowhere I’m in the top 100. I feel more relaxed and more carefree, because it’s something that I always wanted to achieve and now I have it. It’s a huge release for me.”
She added: “Somewhere inside I knew I had to grow up to get better with my singles. I always knew that I was a late bloomer, so I’m actually really happy that it has happened right now. I’m 24 years old. If I continue with the things that I’ve been doing until now and if I just enjoy and love my tennis as I do right now, then hopefully I can go even higher.”
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