A surprising group of contenders rise to the top at Roland Garros.
Several stars made early exits at Roland Garros. The French Open began with No. 2 Naomi Osaka announcing that she would not be speaking to the press at the event. The media frenzy that followed eventually led to Osaka dropping out of the tournament in the second round. Osaka’s exit meant that the world’s No. 1 Ashleigh Barty would hold her ranking, but Barty would also withdraw in the second round due to injury.
In the absence of the top two ranked players of the world, most expected an American player to rise to the occasion since 19 of the players in the main draw hailed from the United States. It could possibly have been Serena Williams capitalizing to claim her 24th grand slam. Younger players like Sofia Kenin and Jennifer Brady were both looking to make their second appearance in the French Open finals. Another former French Open finalist was Sloane Stephens, although Stephens entered the tournament unranked, she made her presence felt after upsetting No. 9 Karolina Pliskova. Despite the number of players from the United States, only one American was able to make a deep run in the tournament.
Seventeen year-old Coco Gauff had her best performance yet at Roland Garros. Despite holding high profile wins over the likes of Naomi Osaka, Venus Williams, and Kiki Bertans, Gauff is yet to claim her first Grand Slam title. Gauff dominated her opponents and became the youngest woman to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal in 15 years, but she was not the only quarterfinalist who was making a surprising run in the tournament.
Barbora Krejčíková is one of the world’s best doubles players. She has won two grand slams and was ranked as the WTA No. 1 as a doubles player in 2018. Krejčíková doubles success had never translated into singles success until 2021. An unseeded Krejčíková was able to pull the rug from under Sloane Stephens in the fourth round of the Open, and then she defeated a red-hot Coco Gauff in the quarterfinals to advance to her first semifinals as a singles.
Krejčíková had something in common with each of her fellow semifinalists as it was the first semifinal appearance for each player. No. 17 Maria Sakkari, No. 31 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Tamara Zidansek we’re all seeking their first Grand Slam title as well.
Pavlyuchenkova advanced to her first final in her 52nd major appearance after defeating Zidansek in straight sets 7–5, 6–3. Krejčíková, on the other hand, found herself in a three hour battle with Maria Sakkari. There was nearly more controversy at the French Open when the chair umpire reversed a call that would’ve given Krejčíková the victory. Krejčíková held the match point when Sakkari appeared to hit the ball out. It appeared so clear that Krejčíková raised her arms in victory, but the umpire called the ball in. Krejčíková attempted to plead her case, especially after replay showed that the ball was indeed out, but the French Open does not utilize video review.
The error did not prove detrimental to Krejčíková, as she would win the match 7–5, 4–6, 9–7, and advance to her first Grand Slam final as a singles competitor. So the final we all predicted was set, No. 31 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Barbora Krejčíková for the French Open title.
Krejčíková won the first set as she looked to avoid another marathon match. Pavlyuchenkova sustained an injury during the second set, but opted to fight through it, and claimed the second set. The injury became too much for Pavlyuchenkova and unseeded Barbora Krejčíková would win the French Open 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.
Krejčíková barely had time to soak in victory as she competed alongside Katerina Siniakova in the women’s double final at the French Open as well. It was clear that her newfound single success had affected her doubles game, as Krejčíková became the first player since 2000 to win both the singles and doubles French Open titles in the same year.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that the doubles specialist doubled up.