Barbora Kejcikova takes one step closer to emulating mentor Jana Novotna with Wimbledon quarter-final win over Jelena Ostapenko – but must contend with former champion Elena Rybakina after No 4 seed despatched Elina Svitolina

  • Krejcikova grew up in the same town as Novtna and she acted as her mentor 
  • 28-year-old has three Wimbledon doubles titles but this is her first semi-final 
  • Rybakina is a fearsome prospect on grass and the favourite for Saturday’s title 

Twenty-six years after Jana Novotna won the Wimbledon title, and seven years after her death from cancer aged just 49, the woman she mentored is two matches away from following in her footsteps.

Barbora Krejcikova grew up in the same town as Novotna, Brno in the Czech Republic, and her enterprising parents simply turned up on the former champion’s doorstep.

Together, Krejcikova and Novotna built a game of subtlety and guile which Wednesday sent the 28-year-old into her first Wimbledon semi-final with a 6-4, 7-6 win over Jelena Ostapenko.

The Latvian had not dropped more than three games in a set this fortnight, blasting her way through the draw. But Krejcikova disrupted Ostapenko’s rhythm and extracted 35 unforced errors.

Like Novotna, Krejcikova is a fine doubles player and has 10 Grand Slams across ladies and mixed, including three Wimbledon titles.

Barbora Krejcikova booked her first Wimbledon semi-final after beating Jelena Ostapenko

The Czech player will aim to emulate her mentor Jana Novtna (pictured in 1998) who died of cancer at the age of 49

The Czech player will aim to emulate her mentor Jana Novtna (pictured in 1998) who died of cancer at the age of 49

Standing in her way will be the title favourite - and 2022 champion - Elena Rybakina (pictured) who beat Elina Svitolina in straight sets

Standing in her way will be the title favourite – and 2022 champion – Elena Rybakina (pictured) who beat Elina Svitolina in straight sets

But the 2021 French Open remains her only singles major and she had never made it past the fourth round at the All England Club, the setting for the two defining moments of Novotna’s career. 

In 1993 she collapsed from 4-1 in the deciding set against Steffi Graf and wept on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent; five years later it was that same royal personage presenting her with the Venus Rosewater dish. A title for her protégée could be seen as the final act in Novotna’s Wimbledon trilogy.

No31 seed Krejcikova will face Elena Rybakina in Thursday’s semi-final, after the 2022 champion beat Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-2. The Kazak No4 seed is favourite for the title but Krejcikova has won both of their previous meetings and has the skill to spike Rybakina’s big guns.

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