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PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 10: Barbora Krejcikova of The Czech Republic celebrates victory after winning her Semi-Final Women’s Singles match against Maria Sakkari of Greece during Day Twelve of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on June 10, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo : Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
History was made at the 2021 French Open on Thursday as for just the second time in the open era, a women’s Grand Slam event featured four maiden semifinalists.
After delivering some outstanding tennis, Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova and Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova emerged victorious in their respective semis matches, setting up what promises to be an outstanding final this coming Saturday.
Pavlyuchenkova makes history
Playing in her first Grand Slam semifinal, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova showed nerves of steel as she defeated Tamara Zidansek, 7-5, 6-3, in a match that lasted one hour and 34 minutes. It was a fantastic result for Pavlyuchenkova, who became the first woman to play more than 50 Grand Slam events before reaching her first major final.
While Zidansek struck eight more winners than Pavlyuchenkova (27-19), the unforced errors doomed the Slovenian. She committed 33 unforced errors, 11 more than Pavlyuchenkova.
Once a promising junior player, Pavlyuchenkova’s career skyrocketed early on as she was ranked inside the top 20 even before reaching the age of 20.
She couldn’t clear the Grand Slam hurdle, though, with her best opportunity coming at Roland Garros in the quarterfinals ten years ago. She led defending champion Francesca Schiavone, 6-1, 4-1, in that match only to end up losing. Five times since that gut-wrenching loss, she’d reach the quarters of a major, but the results all ended in defeat.
Just when you thought that her chance had passed already, the 29-year-old Pavlyuchenkova went on a magical run in this year’s French Open. And with a spot in the finals at stake, she didn’t let the opportunity slip, grabbing the victory in the 621st WTA match of her career.
With her win, Pavlyuchenkova is the fourth Russian woman to contest a French Open final. She is looking to become the first Russian winner of the event since Maria Sharapova captured the title in 2014.
Krejcikova survives Sakkari in a three-set thriller
Standing in her way in the final is Barbora Krejcikova. The Czech star pulled off a dramatic victory against Greece’s Maria Sakkari, winning 7-5, 4-6, 9-7 in a marathon match that lasted three hours and 18 minutes.
It was the second-longest match of the women’s tournament, with the contest having lots of twists and turns. Krejcikova converted on her fifth match point to become the first Czech finalist in this event since Lucie Safarova reached the 2015 Roland Garros final.
Krejcikova is playing the best tennis of her life, having now won each of her last 11 matches. It wasn’t easy, though, against Sakkari as she needed to save a match point to reach the final.
With the win, Krejcikova improved to 3-0 in her career against Sakkari. It has been a meteoric rise for the 25-year-old Krejcikova through the singles rankings, making it into the final match in only her fifth singles main-draw appearance in a major.
She will look to make more history in the final against Pavlyuchenkova. A victory in the championship match will see her become the first Czech Roland Garros champion since Hana Mandilikova captured the crown in 1981.
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