After saving five set points, Barbora Krejcikova closes out Coco Gauff in straights to reach Roland Garros semifinalsBy Jun 09, 2021
Novak Djokovic: 19 stats for his 19th Grand Slam titleBy Jun 14, 2021
Five Things To Know About Barbora Krejcikova’s Win At Roland GarrosBy Jun 14, 2021
Ranking Reaction: Tsitsipas hits new high of No. 4, Krejcikova surges into Top 20By Jun 14, 2021
How do Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer stack up, post-Paris?By Jun 14, 2021
The Rally: Is Novak Djokovic's Roland Garros triumph the most remarkable of his 19 Slam-title runs?By Jun 13, 2021
Dani's Take: Krejcikova's triumph, Djokovic's usurpation, and taking stock of the final 72 hours in ParisBy Jun 12, 2021
The Rally: At a French Open where new faces confronted big moments, Barbora Krejcikova completes a breakout singles runBy Jun 12, 2021
With ruthless determination and trademark wit, Li Na's Paris triumph still stands out 10 years laterBy Jun 12, 2021
Barbora Krejcikova, Double Threat: A Czech star is born with maiden singles SlamBy Jun 12, 2021
After saving five set points, Barbora Krejcikova closes out Coco Gauff in straights to reach Roland Garros semifinals
The Czech reached her first Grand Slam singles semi on Wednesday with a 7-6 (6), 6-3 victory over the 17-year-old American—who saved five match points before succumbing.
Published Jun 09, 2021
INTERVIEW: Krejcikova speaks with Tennis Channel's Jon Wertheim after winning her 10th straight match
With Coco Gauff and Barbora Krejcikova each taking Court Philippe Chatrer Wednesday riding nine-match win streaks, something had to give.
The tension inside the stadium could be cut with a racquet handle. Understandable, given the occasion and new territory both players were facing in their maiden Grand Slam singles quarterfinals. But Krejcikova had been on this stage before many times as a doubles player, and relied on every ounce of experience to survive a grueling first 70 minutes.
Down 3-5 in the first set, Krejcikova saved five set points, and then went on to eliminate the 17-year-old, 7-6 (6), 6-3, to join No. 31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and 85th-ranked Tamara Zidansek as another unlikely French Open semifinalist.
"In the first set, I was always behind. I was just telling myself, 'Just keep going, just keep enjoying. She has the pressure, she needs to win, she's the favorite,'" Krejcikova said in an interview with Jon Wertheim. "I was really relieved, enjoying every ball. I was just fighting, fighting, fighting."
Though Krejcikova asserted that nerves weren't a factor, they certainly seemed present at the onset. Her ball toss was everywhere—she repeatedly caught it and restarted her motion—and her first serve was nowhere to be found. Gauff, who hadn’t lost a set all tournament, capitalized to open a 3-0 lead. Pushed to deuce again, a fired up Krejcikova came through what turned out to be a pivotal 10-point game in getting on the scoreboard.
From there, Gauff was no longer immune to the unsteadiness that had plagued her opponent. She was broken on the back of three unforced errors, and missed an opportunity for a re-break a game later. Though Krejcikova’s serve let her down at 3-4, Gauff wasn’t able to put her foot down with the advantage back in her hands. From set point up, a pair of tight backhands with a double-fault sandwiched in between saw Gauff drop serve.
At 5-6, Krejcikova erased two more set points by stepping into the court. Her aggressive intent in key moments, compared to Gauff’s aversion to pulling the trigger on pressure points, grew into an overarching theme of the clash.
Double-faults and wobbly hitting meant separation was hard to come by in the tiebreak. At one stage, Krejcikova missed a forehand approach when a fan shouted during contact (remember fans?). When she decelerated on a forehand to fall behind 4-6, the stressful miss was immediately wiped away by a duo of well-constructed points finished by the same shot that had just let her down. Following another Gauff backhand unforced error, Krejcikova delivered a terrific serve-plus-one to steal the set on her first opportunity.
"I think next time, I'm definitely going to focus more making less errors, just trusting myself on the set points," Gauff told press afterwards. "I feel like the set points I did have, I did play a little bit passive. That's not how I want to play tennis. I always want to play first-strike tennis. So that's something I'll work on."
Along with missing all five set points, Gauff also went just two for eight on break points. When she missed a chance to put that behind her at the start of the second set, the match quickly escaped the No. 24 seed. Gauff was broken from 40-15, and she fell behind 0-4 after double-faulting—her 10th unforced error of the set. Without a winner to that point, Gauff smashed her racquet.
Closing was more complicated than Krejcikova would have liked. Up 5-1, 40-0, the 25-year-old was unable to cross the finish line. The biggest miss occurred on her third match point, when an open-court backhand up the line was pushed wide. In the next game, Krejcikova missed two more match points on Gauff’s serve. Now it was the Czech who let five set-winning—and match-winning—points go.
But with the benefit of her cushion, the world No. 33 impressively served it out at love to seal the victory in one hour and 50 minutes.
Krejcikova is now 5-1 against Americans this season and improved to 13-3 on clay. Her 10-match unbeaten run began after her defeat to Iga Swiatek in the third round of Rome, where she held two match points on the Pole. Krejcikova would have earned a shot at revenge had Swiatek, the defending French Open champion, defeated Maria Sakkari. But the No. 17 seed kept the upset trend going on the women's side, shocking Swiatek—who had won 22 consecutive sets at Roland Garros before Wednesday—6-4, 6-4.
Krejcikova is also in contention to lift her second women's doubles trophy in Paris alongside Katerinia Siniakova, having advanced to the semifinals Tuesday.
"Everybody, they just put a label on me like, Yeah, you play doubles, you are a doubles specialist. But I never thought I just want to be a doubles specialist," she said in her press conference. "We won our first two Grand Slams when I was 22. I felt like I don't want to be a doubles specialist when I was 22. I want to play singles, I want to work hard, improve my game. I want to play the top players actually in singles.
"It was really frustrating that I just wasn't able to get there. But I always felt like if I'm going to work hard, I'm just going to continue, just try to be patient, which is not really my thing (smiling), but I felt sooner or later I'm just going to get there and I will have a chance to play all these top players, to learn something, gain some experience."