Roland-Garros: Pavlyuchenkova and Krejcikova invite themselves for a first Grand Slam final

We knew that the poster for the ladies final, to be held on Saturday, would be unique. In a women’s table, where the seeds took turns leaving the stage during the Paris fortnight for multiple reasons, the last four, this Thursday, was made up of novice players at this level of competition. Four debutantes for a final ball. It is also only the 4th time since the beginning of the Open era, in 1968, that the four candidates for the last ticket had never played in a Grand Slam final… The 3rd time in Paris

“I dreamed of it when I was young but I did not think I would reach the Roland-Garros final this year,” admits also in perfect French Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the oldest of the four semi-finalists in the running. At almost 30 years old (on July 3), the Russian was the first to get her sesame for the final. At the start of the day, she got rid of Slovenian Tamara Zidansek (85th in the world) in two controlled sets (7-5, 6-3) on the Philippe-Chatrier court. “I was nervous before and during the game because it’s an impressive place,” she says.

For the Russian, this qualification is a revenge on a checkered career, with more lows than highs despite undeniable potential. Because the one who had dominated the junior circuit subsequently stagnated, never confirming her results as a youngster. On the pro circuit since 2007, she had never passed the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam tournament in 51 attempts. But the Parisian tournament is the first for the current world No. 32. It was here, at Porte d’Auteuil, that she had reached her first shift. It was exactly 10 years ago, in 2011. An eternity.

“It’s amazing to reach the final here,” smiles the native of Samara. My journey is what it is but I still think I have the game to go far in a tournament, it’s just that something was always missing, it was like a puzzle with pieces missing. I had doubts but I always trained hard. I have been working with a sports therapist for some time because the mind counts 90% in the result of a match. I don’t want to have any regrets… But it’s not over yet. There is still one game to play and to win. “

And this match, the Russian will play it against Barbora Krejcikova. The Czech, world n ° 33, saved a match point before winning in 3 sets (7-5, 4-6, 9-7) against the Greek Maria Sakkari (n ° 18) at the end of a terrible, intense and indecisive fight lasting more than 3 hours (3h18). “I’ve always wanted to play this kind of match, I’ve dreamed of it since I was a kid, blows the winner on Central Court. We both fought but only one could win. It was a big fight. I would have been proud of this game even if I had lost it. As Sakkari cracked nervously and showed signs of restlessness at the end of the match, the Czech remained unmoved. Perhaps Krejcikova was more used to dealing with these important moments.

If the 25-year-old player had never been further than a round of 16 in Grand Slam singles (last year at Roland Garros), she has however already raised several Majors in her career … ladies’ doubles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2018 and in mixed doubles (Australian Open in 2019, 2020 and 2021). If successful on Saturday, she will succeed Marie Pierce who won the French Open in women’s singles and doubles with Martina Hingis in 2000. At the time Krejcikova was only 4 years old and her head was full of dreams.

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