“I really want to fight. I really want to get the wins,” said Barbora Krejcikova after rallying from a one-set, 1-3 deficit in her AO opener.
By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Sunday, January 14, 2024
Staring down a one-set, 1-3 deficit, Barbora Krejickova felt Happy Slam descend to Scary Sunday.
Struggling to hold serve, muttering frustrations to herself, pained by a cranky ankle and facing the prospect of her sixth opening-round Grand Slam exit in 16 major appearances, Krejcikova was in no mood for crash-and-burn.
The reigning AO doubles champion dug down, cleaned up her act on serve and accelerated through a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 Australian Open comeback win over tricky Japanese wild card Mai Hontama.
A draining two-and-a-half hour tug-of-war saw main-draw debutant Hontama dictate play for the first set-and-a-half.
On this day, Krejcikova’s grit and fight were was essential elements as her serve and forehand.
“it was a really difficult match. I was set down, break down,” Krejcikova said. “Tough one. I felt I wasn’t really playing my best tennis, and I also felt she was playing really well.
“I mean, I’m really happy with the way how I was able to turn around the second set, with the way how I switched my game. Yeah, I mean, I think the second set was maybe the key, and then I feel in the third definitely the break at 4-3 was the key to get the win.”
The 2021 Roland Garros singles and doubles champion took a medical timeout for taping on her foot and ankle while up 3-2 in the final set. Krejcikova held at 15 for 4-3 then battled through one of the longest games of the match, a 16-point pressure-packed event, converting her second break point for 5-3.
Krejcikova won eight of the last 10 points played on her serve to complete a comeback on a day in which the No. 122-ranked Hontama converted six of 12 break points.
The ninth-seeded Krejcikova will face German Tamara Korpatsch in round two.
Krejcikova hopes this comeback will be a launching pad for a greater Grand Slam season than 2023.
A year ago, Krejcikova reached the AO fourth round then managed just one singles win in the final three Slams of the season. The two-time AO doubles champion worked overtime for a well-earned win and says she’s ready for more.
“Well, I feel good. I feel very hungry,” Krejcikova said. “I really want to be there. I really want to fight. I really want to get the wins, and I really want to get back on track and perform well and get some good matches.
“I believe I’m on a good way, and the plan is to just keep going and just keep trying to get better every day.”
Photo credit: Robert Prange/Getty