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Pavlyuchenkova: So Close, So Far Away

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was within a few games of her Grand Slam dream when Barbora Krejcikova ascended to realize her own.

The unseeded Krejcikova unleashed eight straight points winning four of the last five games top Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 in today's Roland Garros final.

More: Krejcikova Wins Roland Garros, Honors Novotna's Memory

The 25-year-old Krejcikova became the first Czech woman to win Roland Garros since Hana Mandlikova reigned in 1981.

A banged-up Pavlyuchenkova battled bravely through left knee and leg injuries—she took an injury timeout to have her left thigh taped up—and held a 3-2 lead in the decider before Krejcikova lifted her level and the title.

The 31st-seeded Russian spoke of pain and purpose and the raw emotion of coming achingly close to realizing your dream only to see it dissipate.

"I've had a long and tough road also getting into the final," Pavlyuchenkova said. "It seemed like it was so close but so far at the same time. So I think I'm just going to continue and take it tournament by tournament, match by match. It's just how I was doing it these two weeks as well. I found myself in the final. I think that's the key."

Still, Pavlyuchenkova can draw strength from a record run that saw her conquer champions and contenders to reach her maiden major final in her 52nd Grand Slam appearance.

"But definitely, I mean, I believe in my game, I believe in me," Pavlyuchenkova said. "I know I'm a fighter. What else do you need basically?"

Tennis Express

The 29-year-old Russian is the first woman in Open Era history to reach a maiden major final after 50 or more Grand Slam appearances.

The strain of Pavlyuchenkova's 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 third-round win over third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka spiked knee pain. Her body was strained by three-set wins over former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and her doubles partner, Elena Rybakina. Pavlyuchenkova persevered and put herself in position to win, but Krejcikova stepped it up attacking the ball at crunch time. 

"I play so good, but my body says this to me: I don't want to continue. Yeah, the more you play, the worse it gets to my body," Pavlyuchenkova said. "When I was landing on my serve, I felt a lot of pain on the back of my leg. It was almost like pulling, so I had to wrap it up. Then I lost that game 4-3 because it was against the wind.

"I always felt like she was pushing on my serve. I felt like I needed to do a little bit more with my serve. She was playing with the wind. That's how I felt. I was feeling a little bit like this all the time. I don't know. I think she just played more solid and better in the end."

Photo credit: Roland Garros Facebook