Pavlyuchenkova advances to first major final in Paris


Tour veteran Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova endured long stretches where she didn’t enjoy tennis, and because her consistency and confidence were so elusive she considered calling it a career.

Her persistence paid off when the 29-year-old Russian advanced to her first Grand Slam final by beating unseeded Tamara Zidansek at the French Open, 7-5, 6-3.

Pavlyuchenkova, seeded 31st, is playing in her 52nd major tournament and her 14th French Open. She had been 0-6 in major quarter-finals before finally surmounting that hurdle on Tuesday, and she was steadier than the big-swinging Zidansek in their semifinal.
“I wanted this so much that right now I don’t feel anything,” Pavlyuchenkova told the crowd in French.

Pavlyuchenkova was a top 20 player as a teen, but only now will she play for a major title against the winner of the second semi-final between 17th-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece and unseeded Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic.

It was only the second time in the professional era that there were four first-time Grand Slam women semi-finalists at a major tournament and the first time since the 1978 Australian Open.

Even so, the quality of play in the first match was as enjoyable as the warm, cloudless weather.—AFP