French Open 2021: Pavlyuchenkova, Krejcikova Advance to Women's Final

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 10, 2021

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 10: Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia shake hands at the net after their Semi-Final Women's Singles match during Day Twelve of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on June 10, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The women's singles final is set for the 2021 French Open.

Having taken out reigning champion Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals, 17th-seeded Maria Sakkari was in action against Barbora Krejcikova. Tamara Zidansek and No. 31 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova met in the other semifinal clash on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Of the four, Pavlyuchenkova was the only one who had reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal before, so this was largely uncharted territory for them.

Here's a look at how Thursday unfolded in Paris.

Women's Singles Results

No. 31 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova def. Tamara Zidansek 7-5, 6-3

Barbora Krejcikova def. No. 17 Maria Sakkari 7-5, 4-6, 9-7

Thursday Recap

Pavlyuchenkova was the first to punch her ticket to the final after taking down Zidansek in straight sets.

The 29-year-old didn't get off to a great start, as she dropped serve to Zidansek to open the match. She broke back in the fourth game to tie things at two games apiece and then earned a pivotal break to move ahead 5-3.

Zidansek responded in kind in the next game, but Pavlyuchenkova had the cushion to absorb the setback.

Roland-Garros @rolandgarros

Those reactions though. 😂<br><br>What a point.#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/XqLmmOORTg

Down 6-5 and serving to stay alive at 15-40, Zidansek double-faulted on set point to put her opponent in the driver's seat.

To get the second set underway, Pavlyuchenkova had to stave off one break point before holding and going up 1-0. Zidansek had two chances to hold in the next game but couldn't seal the deal, and Pavlyuchenkova capitalized on her second break-point opportunity to take a two-game lead.

The pair alternated service breaks, which still left Zidansek attempting to climb out of a 3-1 deficit. It looked like a comeback might be in store when she took two games in a row to make it 4-3 in favor of Pavlyuchenkova.

The Russian grabbed her sixth service break in the eighth game and cruised on serve to cement the victory.

WTA Insider @WTA_insider

🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺<br><br>Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (@NastiaPav) is the 1st Russian woman to advance to a Slam final since 2015 (Sharapova, AO). <br><br>She is the 1st woman to play more than 50 majors before reaching her first major final. <br><br>Defeats Tamara Zidansek 75 63.#RG21 pic.twitter.com/XZoqrJV7Nd

It appeared the second semifinal was headed for a straight-set finish as well.

Krejcikova survived a hard-fought first set against Sakkari. She dropped her first two service games to fall behind 3-1. She battled back to the set at three games each before breaking back to go up 5-3.

A double fault gave Sakkari a break in the ninth game, but she was unable to force a tiebreaker while serving down 6-5. Two unforced errors and a double fault gave Krejcikova the set.

The Czech proceeded to take a commanding 4-0 lead in the second set. Sakkari's upsets of Swiatek, Elise Mertens and Sofia Kenin probably came in handy as she didn't panic in the face of the large deficit and remained composed.

Roland-Garros @rolandgarros

Fighting back 🇬🇷#RolandGarros | @mariasakkari pic.twitter.com/wszhQG7eel

Little by little, she chipped away at Krejcikova's advantage until she took six straight games and the set.

The Tennis Podcast @TennisPodcast

What a time for Sakkari to find her first ace of the match - 5-7, 5-4, deuce.<br><br>She makes forehand errors on her first 2 set points but forces a volley error from BK on the third ... and EXPLODES.<br><br>A lot of pent-up emotion in that celebration. Going three! pic.twitter.com/G98H925vXw

Given how the match had unfolded to that point, the decisive set wasn't going to come easy.

Sakkari earned a critical break in the third game to gain the upper hand early. The two players held serve until the 25-year-old Greek was serving for the match at 5-4. She committed three unforced errors in the game to provide Krejcikova with a lifeline.

Since Roland Garros uses the advantage set rule rather than the traditional tiebreaker to determine a victor, Krejcikova was in a position to keep ramping the pressure up on Sakkari. As long as she held serve, she'd put her opponent on the back foot.

Down 7-6, Sakkari denied Krejcikova on match point three times before finally holding serve. But she was right back in that position during her next service game. 

There was some controversy as the Hawk-Eye showed Sakkari hitting a forehand long on match point for Krejcikova. The umpire deemed the shot to have landed in, however.

The Tennis Podcast @TennisPodcast

Krejcikova thinks she's won it - the umpire disagrees - point to be replayed ...<br><br>Sakkari saves with a 1-2 punch! pic.twitter.com/1tUmGLKTJo

Krejcikova left no doubt on the next match point as she hammered a backhand winner down the line.

The French Open final will be the first meeting between Pavlyuchenkova and Krejcikova at a WTA event.