Tennis-Fit-again Krejcikova ready for French Open title defence

Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 25, 2022 Czech Republic's Barbora Krejcikova reacts during her quarter final match against Madison Keys of the U.S. REUTERS/Morgan Sette

(Reuters) - Barbora Krejcikova said she is fit and mentally recharged to defend her title at this year's French Open after recovering from an elbow injury.

Czech world number two Krejcikova last played at the Qatar Open in February, a month after lifting the Australian Open's doubles title with partner Katerina Siniakova.

She withdrew on the eve of Indian Wells in March because of an elbow injury, which she said was due to her workload in 2021.

"I got injured and had a problem with my elbow, which I didn't expect is going to take me away for this long," Krejcikova told reporters on Friday.

"But I think it was good. I think it was worth it to have a break after such a tough last season. Right now I feel healthy, I have to knock on wood that I feel good.

"Also I think mentally I'm really recharged. I'm looking forward to come back on the tour, get back in a good form and play the best players."

Krejcikova defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win the title last year, completing a remarkable transition from a doubles specialist to a Grand Slam singles champion.

The 26-year-old will begin her title defence by facing French teenager Diane Parry and is on a last-16 collision course with former world number one Victoria Azarenka.

Krejcikova said she was hoping to play tournaments in the build-up to the French Open, but after discussing with her coach, she chose to focus on being 100% ready for the claycourt major.

"We took this decision and I was kind of happy with that," she said. "I was fully committed to it."

World number one Iga Swiatek, who won the title at Roland Garros in 2020, is considered the favourite to win this year, owing to her stunning form on clay.

Krejcikova heaped praise on Swiatek, who arrived in Paris on the back of an incredible 28-match winning streak.

"Iga, playing amazing. She was doing such an incredible job on the court. I mean, also off the court. I think she's also a very good person," Krejcikova said of the Polish top seed.

"She deserves it and I hope at some point I will get closer to her and we can maybe fight for the number one spot."

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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