Barbora Krejcikova celebrates after winning the Dubai Tennis Championship women's singles title. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Winning on big stage comes naturally for Barbora Krejcikova, who literally eats, sleeps and watches tennis. The 10-time Grand Slam doubles champion and 2021 French Open winner is way down in the ranking, that belies her status.

The Czech, who was No 30 before the start of the Dubai Tennis Championships, is likely to be close to the top-15 in the new rankings after her maiden title in Dubai when she defeated world No 1 Iga Swiatek in straight sets 6-4, 6-2 the final. Challenges spur the feisty competitor and the bigger the challenge, the better she performs.

Krejcikova became only the fifth unseeded player in the last 40 years to score a win against the top three players in the world in one week. She joins the illustrious company of Aryna Sabalenka at the WTA Finals 2022 (Iga Swiatek, Ons Jabeur and Jessica Pegula), Venus Williams at the WTA Finals 2008 (Dinara Safina, Jelena Jankovic and Serena Williams), Serena Williams in Miami 2002 (Martina Hingis, Venus Williams and Jennifer Capriati) and Steffi Graf at the Roland Garros 1999 (Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport and Monica Seles).

Iga Swiatek
World No 1 Iga Swiatek hits a backhand return against Barbora Krejcikova in the final. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Injury woes

“I’m going to get soon where I belong,” the Czech said, who reached No 2 ranking in 2022 but was hampered by injuries and out for four months. “Definitely, last year was really tough, especially for being out for so long. I really couldn’t find my game till the end of the season, when I got injured again. I actually started playing tennis during Christmas. so I’m really happy that I’m here right now with this trophy and that I can celebrate it tonight.”

The big turning point came during the second round when the 27-year-old defeated Daria Kasatkina after saving four match points, which makes it four top-10 players Krejcikova had beaten in this tournament.

“I mean, that match that got really close, I almost lost in the second round. It gave me the confidence and from there on, I was just starting to play better tennis every single game.”

Glowing tributes

The winner payed glowing tributes to Swiatek, whom she called the biggest motivation.

“She’s winning everything and had an amazing streak last year and this year also. Last week, she played amazing and was in good shape this week. It’s great if I get opportunity to practice with her because she’s just so dedicated to tennis. She gives 100 per cent every single time and I have so much respect for her. She is just a big motivation to me,” she said.