WATCH: Barbora Krejcikova improved to 16-1 in her last four events with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Isabella Shinikova in Prague.

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Barbora Krejcikova arrived in Prague last summer relieved to kick off her post-pandemic campaign with a wild card. A year later, the reigning Roland Garros champion is favored to win her third tournament of an explosive season after easing to a decisive victory over Bulgarian qualifier Isabella Shinikova, 6-2, 6-3, at the Livesport Prague Open.

“I’m still the same me,” Krejcikova assures after the match. “I’m just really enjoying being here, playing in front of fans. They’re cheering and having a good time; I hope they were entertained and after seeing me so many times on TV, they can see me in person. After matches, I can sign a few balls and they can see me, and not just a person from TV. Everything is special and nice, and I’m just really grateful that I can be here.”

The world No. 13 joined the crowd in 2020 after she pushing eventual champion Simona Halep to three sets on clay. It was a match that foreshadowed her major breakthrough on the terre battue later that fall, which in turn served as a springboard for her ostensibly meteoric 2021 success.

“I was actually watching all of her matches and, in its own way, I got experience from that and I got really inspired by her. Now I’m just really looking forward to playing more matches and seeing the crowd, and hopefully I can inspire them.”

I was actually watching all of [Halep's] matches and, in its own way, I got experience from that and I got really inspired by her. Now I’m just really looking forward to playing more matches and seeing the crowd, and hopefully I can inspire them. Barbora Krejcikova

Krejcikova surely inspired many after her epic triumph in Paris, where she became the first woman since Mary Pierce in 2000 to capture the Roland Garros singles and doubles titles—with an assist, of course, from longtime partner and former co-No. 1 Katerina Siniakova. Suffering no letdown on grass, the Czech made a glittering main-draw debut at Wimbledon, where she lost a close round-of-16 clash with top seed Ashleigh Barty. Seeded No. 2 in Prague, she posted strong numbers against Shinikova on Tuesday, striking 17 winners while breaking serve five times to improve to 16-1 through her last four events.

“I don’t really don’t know the secret,” she laughed. “I’m just trying to work hard every day and put everything else to the side. When I go to practice or play a match, I’m focusing on that. When I’m outside of tennis, I’m trying to do crazy-different things to the point where, when I’m back on the court, I really miss tennis again and I’m looking forward to the work. I think it’s nice to find a good balance and so far, I’ve been able to actually do this.

“Right now, I’m in a good way but I know at some point, I may go down. I just hope I’m prepared well in my head and that I can understand that after every good time, there is a bad time, but there’ll be another good time after that. After winning in Paris, it’s like all my dreams already came true. Now I really just want to enjoy and do what I love.”

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Krejcikova battled Ashleigh Barty at Wimbledon after reaching the fourth round in her singles main-draw debut (Getty Images).

Krejcikova battled Ashleigh Barty at Wimbledon after reaching the fourth round in her singles main-draw debut (Getty Images).

Krejcikova is thoughtful and unguarded in press, clearly in no rush to be changed by fame. She opts to spend her free time with family—in particular her niece and nephew—outside the tournament bubble, an apparatus that has likely kept her from completely reckoning with her new celebrity status.

“I’m not sure if that many more people would recognize me, but certainly here, there were so many fans lined up in the alleyway, trying get autographs and selfies. With the rules, I couldn’t take too many, but I tried to thank them because I was so happy to see them all there. I just want to give them a little bit of my energy to show that I’m a real person."

Projected to play Siniakova in the quarterfinals, the two have won three majors together but haven’t faced off in an official singles match since their junior days—though the 25-year-old noted a scrimmage at a local event held during the WTA lockdown.

“When she steps on court, I just want her to play her best tennis so she can be the best challenge. I always feel she’s a great fighter on the court. If it comes to this point where we play each other, it’ll be good that one of us wins and there’ll be a Czech player in the semifinals, which would be perfect for the crowd.”

Krejcikova will first need to get past Ysaline Bonaventure on Thursday while Siniakova, seeded No. 5 and through to the second round in straight sets over Jodie Burrage, will next play countrywoman Tereza Smitkova on Wednesday.