Oh Yes Ostrava!!!

Well Krejcikova fans, what another week it was! Barbora Krejcikova did something nobody else has managed in 2022: winning a final against world number 1, Iga Swiatek. After taking the title in Tallinn last week, Krejcikova followed up with an even more impressive run and her first WTA 500 level title.

Coming into this match, it was a little worrying for us Krejcikova fans. Would this be a let down? Barbora’s return to form over the last few weeks has been fantastic, but Iga in a final? With a massive crowd of Polish fans? 

As it turned out Ostrava was even better for Krejcikova. The last two matches in particular were more of Barbora at her best. The semi-final against Wimbledon champion, Elena Rybakina, and this final against French Open and US Open champion Iga Świątek gave Barbora victories over all of the active reigning Grand Slam champions in this tournament. Only the retired Ash Barty was not on her hit list this week!

The final against Swiatek was an absolute classic – over three hours long and full of tension, twists and turns. All to the enthusiastic support of a huge crowd. Ostrava is close to the Polish border so the Polish fans were even more evident than they usually are, in fact, it was 50-50, if not slightly more Polish fans than Czech fans, even though the tournament took place in the Czech Republic. But what that meant was that it was a tremendous atmosphere, with the crowd cheering for their player. The chants of ‘Bara..Bara!’ or ‘Iga..Iga!’ rang out regularly, none of this cheering for people’s double faults, and mistakes, it was all positive and wonderful.

Things didn’t look promising at the start when Krejcikova rapidly found herself 1-5 down and one of Iga’s finals thrashings looked on the cards.  But while the Czech fought back to 5-5, she blinked when serving to level the set and Swiatek broke to win the first set 7-5. 

Krejcikova got an early break in set 2 but when Swiatek raised her game to get back to 4-4, she seemed to have the momentum. It was not to be for the Pole though, as Krejcikova served well, played her precise controlled tennis and made it to the tie break. Iga was starting to look a little rattled. People aren’t supposed to challenge her in finals?! She played a poor tie break to go 1-6 down and while she made Barbora work for it, the tie break went the Czech’s way.

The final set was serve dominated all the way to 4-3 to Krejcikova on serve. At that point, Swiatek played a tentative game while Krejcikova turned on the pressure to break to love, and serve for the title at 5-3. She got to 40-15 and double championship point, but credit to the Pole, who found her best fighting form again to force her way back into the game and even have a break point herself, while saving 5 match points. Ultimately, an ace gave Krejcikova the victory on her 6th match point and win the final set 6-3.

Both Swiatek and Krejcikova have been suffering with colds this week and Iga was not at her absolute best, but we saw why she’s the world number one. She was hitting lines all over the place and has that special talent of champions; the ability to raise her game at important moments that makes her a worthy number one. 

Iga’s record in finals is just absurd. She had gone 10 matches without even dropping set, pretty much destroying her opponents in finals. 

However, she is still only 21 and it was only a year ago she was sobbing after losing at the Olympics and getting a sympathy win at the Year End Championships, not looking at all like she would be the dominant player of 2022. I often feel like Iga looks on the edge mentally in matches. She famously has a full time mental coach/mentor, Daria Abramowicz, travel with her. Swiatek sobbed through the trophy ceremony but also announced she would donate her winnings to mental health charities in Poland. She is a terrific player and seems like a really nice person.

Her achievements in 2022 have been remarkable and she is a clear number 1. In some ways though, Krejcikova’s game is a bad match for her. Barbora has that terrific forehand, solid serves, but is also extremely calm under pressure.

Krejcikova is different from most of the other players on the WTA tour, which is why I’m a fan and also why it’s fantastic to see her back playing at a high level. Several of the WTA players have mental issues in that they struggle to close out matches or crumble at important points. Ons Jabeur has made two Grand Slam finals but has yet to win one, and took a long time to capture her first WTA title (Birmingham in 2021). Anett Kontaveit has never gone deep at Grand Slam despite a lot of tour level titles. Ditto: Paula Badosa who has not had an easy 2022. Aryna Sabalenka is bizarrely one of the more consistent but has had enormous serving issues this year although you can never question her heart. Maria Sakkari still has just one singles title to her name – in total. 

Krejcikova is a Grand Slam champion unlike most of these other top 10 players who have still yet to prove themselves on the biggest stage. I also genuinely believe that Krejcikova‘s doubles success has helped her. She now holds 10 Grand Slam titles. That’s 10 Grand Slam titles! One singles, six doubles and three mixed doubles grand slam titles. When you’ve been on centre court holding up the trophy 10 times I think that has to give you confidence in big matches, no matter whether it’s singles or doubles. Is it it coincidence that since clinching the grand slam of doubles titles at the US Open in early September, Krejcikova and Siniaková have both won singles titles?

Confidence is a strange thing as Krejcikova has looked anxious on the singles court since struggling to recover from an elbow injury this year, the low point probably being a loss to Alex Krunic in R2 of the US Open singles when she won the first set comfortably but completely folded in set 2 when Krunic started playing better. That she has found her self-confidence to look like a top 5 player again in the last few weeks is tremendous for us fans.

To win back-to-back WTA titles, and after her injury plagued 2022 this end of the season success from Barbora Krejcikova is phenomenal. 

Meanwhile my other favourite (and still my biggest favourite!) Petra Kvitova also had a very good tournament in Ostrava. She lost out in the quarter-finals to Elena Rybakina , but the win over Paula Badosa in the last 16 was just a fantastic match. The quality was extremely high and Petra played really well – as she did in all three of her matches. She beat the dangerous American Bernarda Pera in the first round, a player who is very much on form. It was three sets and it was a battle for Petra. Against Badosa. It was straight sets but extremely high quality from both. Badosa has not been in good form recently but actually played very well. The standard of tennis was extremely high with so many tremendous points. 

The quarter-final against Rybakina was also really tight. The match was probably decided by the quality of the Rybakina serve. Every time Petra had a break point, Rybakina served an ace or a service winner and that made the difference. When Petra double-faulted at four-all in the tiebreak to give Rybakina a set point, that was game over really. However, Petra carried on battling throughout the second set and her tennis was a very good quality. Her energy level was very good considering she’s recovering from the flu. it was also notable that her unforced error count was low. Petra bemoaned the slow court but her tennis was really good this week.

In other favourites news, Katerina Siniakova also won a doubles title this week, playing with Kristina Mladenovic in Tunisia. It seemed slightly unfair in a 250 event to have to come up against Siniakova and Mladenovic, two of the best doubles players of recent years. Each of them holds sixth women’s doubles Grand Slam titles while most of the rest of the field were pretty much ITF players. Still as a fan of both I was happy to see this, even if it was slightly weird as they have been opponents many many times – something they commented on in their trophy speeches.


By Kvittycat53

WTA tennis fan, especially Petra Kvitova, Barbora Krejcikova, Kateřina Siniaková

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