Zidansek and Pavlyuchenkova reach first Grand Slam semi-final at French Open
Tamara Zidansek and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova reached the semi-final of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time on Tuesday following three-set wins over Paula Badosa and Elena Rybakina respectively.
Zidansek, the world number 85, started nervously against Badosa. The 23-year-old Slovenian lost the first three games but managed to claw her way back to 3-3. She eventually took the opener 7-5.
She surged into a 4-2 lead in the second but lost six games on the trot to the 33rd seed to cough up the second set 6-4 and go a break down in the decider.
But she recovered and from 3-3 it was level pegging until the 23-year-old Spaniard was trying to make it 7-7. She cracked to hand Zidansek the set 8-6 and a place in the last four after two first round exits in her previous visits.
"It's overwhelming," said Zidansek of her run to the semis. "Of course the match was a great opportunity for the both of us and I guess I managed to keep my composure a little bit better than her. But still, it was a tough battle in the end."
Pavlyuchenkova came from a set down against Rybakina to book her spot in the semis.
The first set tiebreak was over before it had even begun for the 29-year-old Russian.
Rybakina raced into a 5-0 lead against her doubles partner and though Pavlyuchenkova retrieved two of the points, a 10th forehand winner furnished Rybakina with four set points.
And she claimed it after 57 minutes when Pavlyuchenkova's service return slumped into the net.
The second set was one-way traffic after Pavlyuchenkova broke to lead 4-2. She wrapped it up 6-2 and sped into a 2-0 lead in the final set. Rybakina looked buried. But she resurrected herself and served for a 4-2 lead.
She could not take the chance and instead became embroiled in a dogfight.
In the ensuing battle of wits, Pavlyuchenkova kept her nose in front but could not fashion any openings as Rybakina held her serve three times to stay in the match.
Pavlyuchenkova eventually made her move at 8-7 up. At 30-30, a 14th forehand winner brought up one match point and Rybakina's sixth double ended the contest after two hours and 33 minutes.
"I was very nervous," Pavlyuchenkova told the on-court interviewer Fabrice Santoro. "It's not easy to play against your doubles partner, someone you know well. But of course I am very happy to reach a semi-final."
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