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Grand slam firsts for Pavlyuchenkova and Krejcikova in Saturday’s French Open final

Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic will contest their first career grand slam deciders on Saturday after they won through to the final of the French Open on Thursday evening.

avlyuchenkova continued her late blooming at Roland Garros by defeating Tamara Zidansek to reach the final.

The Russian was the world junior number one aged just 14 and now, 15 years later, she will play for a first grand slam title on the Parisian clay.

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Pavlyuchenkova had fallen six times in slam quarter-finals over 10 years before beating Elena Rybakina on Tuesday but she needed just one attempt at a semi-final, seeing off Slovenian Zidansek 7-5 6-3.

Zidansek was the outsider of a hugely unexpected final four, none of whom had ever stood on this stage at a slam before.


Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia plays a forehand in her French Open semi-final win over Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia at Roland Garros in Paris. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Ranked 85, the 23-year-old had won a tense battle with Paula Badosa in the last eight, holding her nerve when it counted.

She looked the more composed of the pair at the start here as well but Pavlyuchenkova began to make her big strikes count and moved into a 5-3 lead.

She was unable to serve out the set, Zidansek pulling off an outrageous backhand overhead winner to help her break, but a double fault from the Slovenian then handed it to her opponent.

Pavlyuchenkova was always ahead in the second set and kept it together with the prize in sight, clinching her first match point when Zidansek drilled a backhand wide.

There was no big celebration from the 29-year-old, who simply took a deep breath before allowing herself a satisfied smile as she tried to take in her achievement.

Maria Sharapova, the last Russian to win the women‘s singles title at Roland Garros, was quick to tweet her admiration for her compatriot’s victory.

Meanwhile, Krejcikova became the first Czech woman in 40 years to reach the French Open final as she beat Greek 17th seed Maria Sakkari 7-5 4-6 9-7 in a nail-biting, see-saw contest.

The world number 33 struggled with nerves throughout but eventually proved more consistent than Sakkari, who got tight when she served for the match at 5-4 in the third set.

She will be looking to emulate Hana Mandlikova, who won the title at Roland Garros in 1981.

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