Tennis-Krejcikova sheds tears, tames emotions to reach quarters

·2-min read
Tennis: French Open

PARIS (Reuters) - Czech Barbora Krejcikova said she was so stressed out before her fourth-round match against Sloane Stephens on Monday that she cried and needed a pep talk from her psychologist to convince her to step onto the court.

The 25-year-old former top-ranked doubles player showed no signs of that anxiety once her contest on the Suzanne Lenglen court began, however, as she swept aside former finalist Sloane Stephens 6-2 6-0.

"I actually really don't know what happened today because I just woke up and I just felt really bad," Krejcikova, ranked 33rd in the world, told reporters.

"I just felt really stressed. I don't know why or what for."

Krejcikova has not lost since a maiden title-winning run in Strasbourg ahead of the French Open and on Monday took just 67 minutes to crush 2017 U.S. Open champion Stephens.

"Half an hour before the match, I didn't even want to step on the court, because I just really felt really bad, and I had to, like, lock myself in the physio room and I had to talk to my psychologist," she continued.

"I was actually crying ... We talked about it a lot, and, she told me like, 'This is something ... if you can overcome this, what you feel right now, it's going to be a huge win, and it doesn't matter if you're gonna win on the court or lose on the court, because it's going to be a personal win'."

Mental health has been in the spotlight at the tournament since the early withdrawal of Naomi Osaka, who was fined heavily by the Grand Slams organisers and warned of expulsion after boycotting her first press conference having cited mental health concerns.

But Krejcikova, who won doubles titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2018 with partner Katerina Siniakova, overcame her nerves and broke Stephens in the opening game before holding her own serve for love.

"I was just happy that I started well. I think after the first point things got a little bit better, a little bit easier," she said.

"Then I broke her. I just felt like, yeah, I can play, I can actually play her. So I think I was just more stressed that I'm just not gonna be good enough. I think that's what happened."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Berhampore, India; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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