July 13, 2024

Open Court


Tearful finale closes Crandon Park

Much bandwidth was taken up chronicling the final match at Crandon Park, before the Miami Open moves to its new home in the middle of the Hard Rock Stadium parking lot next year.

But John Isner vs. Alexander Zverev was not, in fact, the real finale.

Much of the crowd had left, and the media on hand busy elsewhere. But the last match of an era was the women’s doubles final.

And while it wasn’t much of a match, it ended on a touching, emotional note.

Californian Coco Vandeweghe helped make it an American sweep, as she teamed up with Aussie Ashleigh Barty to defeat the No. 6 seeds, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, 6-2, 6-1, to win the Premier Mandatory title.

Trophies and tears

But there was a delay before the trophy ceremony. Krejcikova was being looked by the tournament physician as she sat on the sidelines, as Vandeweghe was cracking jokes at her partner.

The 22-year-old from Brno had fallen victim to a virus which didn’t help her tennis, to be sure.

But during the trophy ceremony, she shared her emotions on another matter entirely.

Krejcikova had been coached by fellow Bruno native Jana Novotna. The former Wimbledon champion died of cancer last November, and Krejikova paid tribute to her late mentor.

“I apologize – I was batting with some virus since Friday, all yesterday I was lying in my bed. I stepped out today and tried my best, but I couldn’t do my best performance, I’m really sorry,” Krejcikova told the crowd, tears in her eyes. “My coach, Jana, unfortunately not here any more, she passed away last year. I’m happy I had a chance to meet her. She is the (reason why) I am here today. So thank you so much.”

Biggest career moment

Krejcikova put on as happy a face as she could for the group photos. And even if she paced back and forth, balanced from one leg to the other during the speeches, clearly struggling, she hung in there for the entire thing.

She has one career singles final, in Nürnberg, Germany last year. And her first career doubles title came in 2015 in Quebec City, with Mandy Minella.

But the Miami Open final was by far the biggest moment of Krejcikova’s career, a tribute to her late coach if she and Siniakova could have pulled it off. How devastated she must have been to not be able to give a full effort – win or lose.

As it was, Krejcikova and Siniakova had seemed down and out. They played three crazy matches in the three rounds leading up to the final. That included a rather unlikely late-night comeback against the Chan sisters in the quarterfinals.

They also came back from a set down to defeat Elise Mertens and Demi Schuurs, 11-9 in the match tiebreak, in the semis.

Krejcikova and Siniakova, who teamed up to win the junior girls’ doubles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open five years ago, find themselves at No. 4 in the race to the year-end finals in Singapore.

They’re just a few points behind Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski and YiFan Xu of China, who stand at No. 3.

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