Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova’s Roland-Garros dream came to an end on Saturday when she fell to Barbora Krejcikova, but by breaking through to her maiden Grand Slam final she has achieved a victory that was long overdue.
Pavlyuchenkova: I want to believe best is yet to come
The Russian surpassed expectations and demonstrated a new-found mental toughness at RG
So what did she learn from her Paris fortnight?
“The most important, I think, is to believe in yourself,” she said after her 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 loss to the Czech in Saturday’s final. “I didn't expect that this tournament, this Roland-Garros, I'll be in the final. Again I tell you: physically I wasn't feeling super great, like ready, 100 percent. Still, because of fighting and believing, you can still achieve it. That's probably the most important.
"Then just go out there, compete and enjoy.”
Passing the quarter-finals for the first time at a major in her 52nd Grand Slam main draw appearance speaks volumes about the tenacity and self-belief Pavlyuchenkova now possesses, and it bodes well for the 29-year-old as she embarks on the next phase of her career.
Mentally, the Russian is in a better place than ever, thanks to the work she has done on her mental approach - a project she is looking forward to continuing.
“It started just before Madrid, like a couple weeks before,” she said of her work with a sports psychologist. “I didn't expect that I would really feel so much better on the court. I seriously felt a little desperate sometimes. You work hard, you do everything, but something is off all the time.
“Then I just said to myself, You know what? I want to try everything. I want to improve my mentality. I want to improve my physical condition, my game, everything. When you do everything 100 percent, then you have no regrets."
Pavlychenkova has no bitter feelings about Saturday’s final. Results – whether wins or losses – are easier to accept now.
“Today I've done everything I could,” she said. “She was better in the end. She was maybe more fitter, more whatever in the end. Doesn't matter. I have no questions to myself right now.”
At Roland-Garros, Pavlyuchenkova battled through personal doubts and physical issues to become the first Russian Grand Slam finalist in six years, and also set the record for most Grand Slam final appearances before reaching a maiden major final with 52.
There's so much to be proud of, and she believes that there is more great tennis inside her.
“I'll keep on going,” she said. “Hopefully, you know, next time if I have a chance to be in the final I'll handle it better and I'll be more fresh and I'll play better. That's the goal right now. I want to believe that the best is yet to come, so I think that's how I should approach the whole situation.”
After a hard-fought final, Pavlyuchenkova was able to look up to her player’s box with pride, at several of her friends who had flown to Paris for the final. It wasn’t her day on the court, but off the court the moment still resonated deeply.
“It's always sad to lose, but then when I looked at my friends, I think there is much more important stuff in life than sometimes even this trophy,” she said.
“I feel loved. I think that's the best thing you can have is friends and a life outside tennis, as well, which actually even meant more than the trophy today.”