French Open 2021: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova advances to final on record 52nd try

The French Open women's semifinals this year is entirely populated by first-timers. All four competitors — Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Tamara Zidansek, Maria Sakkari, and Barbora Krejcikova — have never been to a Grand Slam singles semifinal before. 

By the end of Thursday, two of them will be headed to their first-ever Grand Slam singles final. Follow along with the results of the women's semifinals below. 

Pavlyuchenkova advances to final with defeat of Zidansek

It took Pavlyuchenkova more than 50 attempts, but she finally accomplished her goal. The 29-year-old Russian made it to her first-ever Grand Slam final on Thursday with her 7-5, 6-3 victory over Zidansek. It was her 52nd main draw, making her the first woman to play more than 50 majors before making her first final. 

Zidansek, who is the first Slovenian player to reach the last four of a major tournament, put up a fight over the 94-minute match. She jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first set, smashing winners left and right (she'd end the match with 27 to Pavlyuchenkova's 19). Pavlyuchenkova came roaring back, winning three straight games to lead 3-2, then quickly went up 5-3. With the set hanging in the balance, they had one of the most entertaining volleys you'll see all tournament. 

Those reactions though. 😂

What a

— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 10, 2021

Zidansek eventually won the game to make it 5-4, and then evened the score at 5-5, but that tie was essentially the last time she had any control over the match. Pavlyuchenkova had been neutralizing Zidansek's strong forehand by sending everything toward her backhand, and it was working. She whipped out some gutsy returns to take the set 7-5, and started the second set with a strong 2-0 lead. Zidansek was able to stop Pavlyuchenkova from galloping all over her with a two-game surge in the middle of the set, but she couldn't stop Pavlyuchenkova's momentum. 

Pavlyuchenkova is the first Russian woman to make it to a Grand Slam final in six years. The last woman to do it was Maria Sharapova, who was watching the match on TV and immediately congratulated Pavlyuchenkova on her win. 


— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) June 10, 2021

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