Barty ready to crack the Krejcikova puzzle

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Many have tried over this past few weeks but nobody has yet managed to crack the bewildering Barbora Krejcikova puzzle.

Now it's Ash Barty's turn - and she knows it's going to take some unravelling on Monday when these two French Open champions, past and present, pit wits and talent for a place in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

For what exactly is the key to beating the Czech player who seems to have forgotten how to lose a tennis match?

Six weeks ago, the 25-year-old had never even won a singles title after years of slog and then two turn up like Paris metro trains, headlined by a French Open triumph that left everyone, not least her, feeling a little open-mouthed.

After a break being feted in the Czech Republic, where they've fallen for their new heroine's charm, self-effacement and obvious joy at what she's achieved, she's at it again at Wimbledon.

Playing elegant, clever tennis with the all-court skill that comes with being a doubles whizz, Krejcikova still sounds as if she can't quite believe what's happening to her.

"Actually I didn't feel any stress so far, but I think the deeper I get in the tournament, the more I'm gonna get nervous," she smiled.

"So far, I just feel very happy, really proud of myself. Also really grateful ... I'm just always telling myself, 'Okay, is it really...am I awake?'

She reckons she can't wait to play world No.1 Barty, a player she first met 10 years ago when they were a pair of 15-year-old kids turning up to play the girls' event.

"Just playing Ash, I know her for so long. I actually like to watch her, because she gives me a lot of motivation and inspiration to just work hard," said Krejcikova.

"Sometime she wasn't actually playing, she was off for a little bit, had some problems, but then she came back.

"She deserves to be No.1, because she is just very talented and she works hard. She just deserves everything that she's achieving."

Barty, looking more comfortable every match, concedes that Krejcikova presents a problem.

"I have played her plenty of times in the doubles court. Never on the singles court. It's a new experience for both of us, some new challenges that for sure will force some of my best tennis," she said.

"I'm looking forward to that challenge, trying to figure out her game, kind of piece together the puzzle that she presents."

Barty admits she didn't watch too much of Krejcikova's run to the Roland Garros title because she was dealing with her own injury disappointment "and wasn't in a frame of mind to watch any of the matches in Paris."

But a battle between the 2019 and 2021 French Open champions, with their games full of variety and intelligence, should be a treat for tennis connoisseurs.

"If it's easy on the eyes, then that's nice. But if it's not, it won't bother me in the slightest," reckons Barty.

So, she's happy to win ugly?

"A win's a win they always say, right?" she smiles.

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