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