Iga Swiatek suffers first final loss since 2019
Czech Barbora Krejcikova edged world No.1 Iga Swiatek in the duel between French Open champions in Ostrava on Sunday to continue her late flourish in an injury-hit season.
The 2021 Roland Garros winner reached the final of a WTA 500 event in Sydney at the start of the year and then carried on her strong form to make the quarter finals of the Australian Open.
The 26-year-old climbed to a career-high ranking of two in February before being sidelined for months due to an elbow injury
She failed to make another semi-final until winning two titles in consecutive weeks in Tallinn, Estonia, and at home in Ostrava.
Krejcikova’s 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 win handed twice French Open winner Swiatek her first defeat in a final since 2019.
“It was difficult because I think the beginning of the season was great,” Krejcikova told the WTA following her win that took three hours and 16 minutes.
“Then the injury and being out for so long, more than three or four months, it was difficult to come back.
“It was the middle of the season and I was trying to find my form. I’m just happy that I found it and I’m back right now.”
Krejcikova was unsure what exactly clicked for her but credited “a lot of work” for finding her top form again, having defeated Swiatek, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and world No.3 Annett Kontaveit in the past two weeks.
“I always felt like it’s there, it’s just hiding. I didn’t just forget all that I did last year. I still felt like it’s there,” she said.
“I’m really pleased that everything that I went through and everything that happened, it changed me and gave me extra energy.
“I think I’m a different player, a different person. I’m really happy to be part of the big game again.”The Czech prevailed in three hours and 16 minutes on an indoor hard-court. It was her first victory over Swiatekafter two defeats.
French and US Open champion Swiatek brought a 10-win streak into the final while Krejcikova came in with an eight-win streak from taking Tallinn last weekend.
The Czech got the decisive break in the eighth game of the final set before serving the match out to win her fifth career title.
It was only the second loss for Swiatek in her 12 career finals. She was previously beaten by Polona Hercog in her debut final in Lugano in 2019.
After her semi-final victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova on Saturday, Swiatek became the first WTA Tour player since 2017 to achieve 60 wins in a calendar year.