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Krejcikova’s juggling act

  • Alex Sharp

Very few players manage to master the combination of succeeding on court in both singles and doubles.

Is it a timing issue? Is it simply too labour intensive on the body? The power in modern sport has entrenched tennis towards the baseline, will the modern game enable players to dictate matches from the net? It can be a combination of factors, but in the majority players pick either singles or doubles to ply their trade.

Well, Barbora Krejcikova has kicked that trend. The joint doubles world No.1 is also fighting for precious singles ranking points, with a current position of No.202.

The Czech right hander, who contributed to her country's 2018 Fed Cup triumph has a simple assessment. “It’s very difficult,” the 23-year-old told, bemoaning the task in combining schedules.

“I cannot play (automatically) the big singles tournaments, so I have to play lower down to build my ranking, to then also play the key ones in doubles.

“It’s hard to plan, to juggle both. We try with my coach to try and find the best schedule to enable me to do both,” added Krejcikova, who has a sole singles WTA final to her name, losing in Nuremberg in May 2017 to Kiki Bertens. 

“The goal is to continue to do well in doubles, but to go higher in singles so that I can compete in the top events too.”

Balancing the doubles and singles life is a tough one for Barbora Krejcikova

2018 was a sensational season for Krejcikova alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova. The Czech combination lifted maiden major silverware by winning Roland Garros and Wimbledon to top the rankings.

In the process, the duo became the first to lift both those trophies in the same year since Kim Clijsters and Ai Sugiyama simultaneously ruled Paris and London in 2003.

“For sure winning the Grand Slams were the highlights for 2018, but across the season we played so many good matches together. We played some nice tennis here and managed to play a high level across the season,” continued Krejcikova, who reached the WTA Finals trophy showdown in November with Siniakova, but they were edged by Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic to the title in Singapore.

MORE: Women's singles qualifying results AO2019

“It was a pretty perfect year, a fairytale, but we are determined to keep it going; we want to keep playing good matches and hopefully that starts here.”

All the doubles players entering the draw this month will be eager to avoid Krejcikova-Siniakova, but what makes them such a formidable team?

“We’ve known each other for years and it helps we don’t have a language barrier for sure,” said the 23-year-old.

“I just know what she’ll do, where she will step on the court. We have a strong chemistry together on and off the court. It’s perfect.”

Kjekcikova spoke to moments after her opening 6-4 4-6 6-4 singles qualifying victory over fellow Czech Marie Bouzkova. However, Jessika Ponchet prevailed 7-6(5) 6-4 on Thursday afternoon to force the 23-year-old to focus back on doubles duels.

The joint-leading doubles player on tour is adamant that playing in a quartet can be a boost for her singles journey.

“Doubles really helps your singles mentally. It assures you that you can play on the biggest stages, that you can challenge the big players in the top 50, top 30,” explained the Czech.

“If you can overpower them in doubles, then you have an idea how to outplay them in singles, you feel like ‘yeah I can do it.’ It gives you extra belief to compete.

“Doubles is a lot of fun, and when you have a good connection and strong friendship it works really well.

“But with my ranking in singles around 200, I’m normally the underdog in qualies, so for me I have to keep going, keep battling. It is all about competing for every point, trying your best and just seeing what happens.”