“He told me, ‘I got you. I really believe in you. I think you can do well this year,’” she recounted on Saturday. “I said, ‘Yeah, I also believe in me. But I feel like I need more time. I’m not fit enough yet.’”
And then what happened? The Russian reached the semifinals of that event on clay in Madrid, then made a real breakthrough at the French Open.
Pavlyuchenkova had been 0-6 in major quarterfinals until finally getting past that stage in Paris.
And then came her debut in a Grand Slam final, which ended with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 loss to Barbora Krejcikova. Pavlyuchenkova was hampered by a left leg issue that she said had been bothering her since a victory over No. 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the third round.
“I believe in my game. I believe in me. I know I’m a fighter,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “What else do you need, basically?”
Barbora Krejcikova paid tribute to her late coach Jana Novotna after winning the French Open title.