Paris: Barbora Krejcikova capped a dream fortnight in Paris with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 victory over No.31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to become the first Czech woman to win the Roland-Garros singles title since Hana Mandlikova in 1981.
The world No.33, who could sweep both singles and doubles titles in Paris should she triumph alongside her partner Katerina Siniakova in the doubles final on Sunday, needed one hour and 58 minutes to overcome her Russian opponent and lift her maiden singles major trophy.
A champion in Strasbourg on the eve of Roland-Garros, Krejcikova extended her current winning streak to 12 consecutive matches.
She was ranked 114 in singles when she made her first run to a Grand Slam fourth round in Paris eight months ago and is now the Roland-Garros champion -- a remarkable rise for the former doubles No.1.
Krejcikova paid tribute to her late coach Jana Novotna, who passed away after a battle with cancer at the age of 49 in November 2017.
"I cannot believe what just happened, I cannot believe that I actually won a Grand Slam," an emotional Krejcikova said on court.
"I was going through a really hard time when Jana was passing away, I was most of the time her, and I really wanted to experience this because I thought it's just going to make me really strong. Pretty much her last words were, 'Just enjoy and just try to win a Grand Slam. I know that from somewhere she's looking out for me and all of this, what happened these two weeks is because she is just looking after me probably and I just want to really thank her.
"It's amazing that I had a chance to meet her and that she was such an inspiration for me. I just really miss her but I hope she's happy right now and I'm extremely happy."
This is the sixth straight year Paris has crowned a first-time Grand Slam women's singles champion. The past 15 majors have witnessed nine different maiden Slam winners.
Making just her fifth main-draw singles appearance at a Slam, the 25-year-old Krejcikova dropped serve in the opening game of the contest before racing to take the next six games and claim a one-set lead inside 30 minutes.
Pavlyuchenkova struck back though, carving out a 5-1 gap in the second set.
Serving to level the match, Pavlyuchenkova saw a set point slip away and got broken as Krejcikova cut her deficit to 2-5.
The Russian then received a medical timeout during the changeover for what appeared to be a left upper thigh problem. The No.31 seed broke Krejcikova upon resumption of play to secure the set on the 73-minute mark and force a decider.
The pair traded breaks early in the final set before Krejcikova sent a forehand cross-court for a clean winner that earned her a break-to-love in game seven.
Pavlyuchenkova saved two championship points on her own serve to hold for 4-5 but it only delayed Krejcikova's crowning moment, as she served out the victory a few minutes later.
Saturday's matchup was a fitting conclusion to two surprise-filled weeks.
Naomi Osaka withdrew to take a mental health break. No. 1 Ash Barty, the 2019 champion, retired in the second round with an injured left hip. Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, didn't play at all because of a hurt calf. Serena Williams lost in the fourth round. Defending champion Iga Swiatek lost in the quarterfinals.
Krejcikova spoke frankly earlier in the tournament about feeling overwhelmed by stress and panic before facing 2017 U.S. Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens in the fourth round.
Krejcikova said she worried she wouldn't win a game and was in tears, not wanting to even play the match, before her sports psychologist talked her through it.
Good thing, too, because Krejcikova beat Stephens 6-2, 6-0. That went alongside wins over No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina and No. 24 Coco Gauff before Krejcikova saved a match point in the semifinals against No. 17 Maria Sakkari.