PARIS: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova's Roland Garros fairytale came to an end on Saturday when she fell to Barbora Krejcikova, but by breaking through to her maiden Grand Slam final she surpassed expectations and demonstrated a new-found mental toughness.
"The most important, I think, is to believe in yourself," World number 32 said after her 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 loss to the Czech on Court Philippe-Chatrier. "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."
The Russian knows the importance of mental strength as she is now in a better place - thanks to the work she has done on her cognitive approach.
"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."
With the run to the final on Parisian clay, 29-year-old became the first Russian to reach a major final since Sharapova lost to Serena Williams in the Australian Open decider more than six years ago and also set the record for most Grand Slam final appearances before reaching a maiden major final with 52.
Pavlyuchenkova has no regrets or bitter feelings about Saturday's final both wins and defeat are easier to accept now for her.
"I'll keep on going," she added. "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."