Ambitious Havlickova vows junior triumph is 'just the beginning'

 - Alex Sharp

The 17-year-old made it back-to-back titles for Czechs in the Roland-Garros girls’ event

Lucie Havlickova, Roland Garros 2022, girls' singles final© Loïc Wacziak/FFT

Up-and-coming tennis players from the Czech Republic aren’t short on role models and major champions to learn from and Lucie Havlickova has taken full advantage of that.

The 17-year-old has trained with two-time Grand Slam winner Petra Kvitova in Prague and that elite hitting has transferred onto the match court.

On Saturday, the junior world No.9 lifted the girls’ singles dish with a commanding 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Argentina’s Solana Sierra. 

Not long after she claimed that victory on Court Simmone-Mathieu, 2018 junior champion Coco Gauff stepped on Court Philippe-Chatrier to compete in the women’s final against world No.1 Iga Swiatek.

“It's really inspiring. She's (Gauff) just a year older than me and she's playing the final. She's incredible,” stated the 17-year-old Havlickova. “She's amazing at what she's doing. Hopefully we will be there one day, too.”

Just like her sparring partner Kvitova, Havlickova packs a punch on all her strokes and is comfortable transitioning up the court.

After 73 minutes of smart tennis, Havlickova was soon sprinting over to her coach and former Roland-Garros men’s doubles winner Lukas Dlouhy.

“I'm still processing the emotions. It's a lot to process,” confessed the Czech charge.

Lucie Havlickova, Solana Sierra, finale, simple filles, Roland-Garros 2022©Loïc Wacziak / FFT

“But I feel amazing, even though I spent a million hours here on the court because I played every time three sets except today. I feel amazing.”

She’s demonstrated plenty of resilience and determination this fortnight to juggle runs into the singles and doubles finals, just like Gauff has done in the equivalent women's events.

“It was very tough mentally and physically. I played a lot of three-set matches, because every time something went wrong. So even in doubles, first two matches were in super-tiebreaks, so it was physically really tough,” reflected the talented junior.

“But I was well prepared, even though I spent a lot of time on the court.”

The attitude and application to thrive on the major stage was enhanced by learning from the very best on the terre battue.

“Last year I was here, and I was first alternate, the first girl who didn't get in. That was quite sad. But it was good, because I have known the club, the surrounding a little,” continued Havlickova, before revealing her admiration for a certain 13-time champion here.

“We watch, every time when Rafael Nadal plays a final, we watch it all.

“He plays a lot different tennis than me, but he's an inspiration in what he has achieved and what he's doing, he's amazing. I think he's the best of all the time.”

Last summer in Paris her compatriot Linda Noskova was crowned girls’ champion, alongside a women's singles and doubles sweep by Barbora Krejcikova. The Czech conveyor belt of elite talent continues with Havlickova, who is shooting for the very top.

“It's amazing to be part of the history, but still, it's just the beginning of something,” stated the ambitious teen.

“Hopefully it's gonna be better some day, better history, like maybe WTA champion or Grand Slam.”