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French Open 2021: Women's Final Schedule, Prediction and Prize Money

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IJune 12, 2021

Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova returns the ball to Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek during their semifinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Michel Euler/Associated Press

None of the women's favorites for the 2021 French Open have made it to the end of the tournament. Naomi Osaka withdrew after the first round. Ashleigh Barty injured her hip in the second round. Serena Williams lost in the fourth round, and Coco Gauff fell in the quarterfinals.

That means the final will feature two players who had never previously made it past the quarterfinals at a major tournament: No. 31-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and unranked Barbora Krejcikova. One of these women will capture her first Grand Slam title when the two face off Saturday at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris.

There have been plenty of surprises along the way at this year's French Open. No player seeded better than No. 8 reached the quarterfinals, while two unranked players (including Krejcikova) made it to that point.

Here's everything you need to know heading into Saturday's final.

      

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Women's Final Information

Date: Saturday, June 12

Start Time: 9 a.m. ET

TV: NBC

Live Stream: NBC Sports app

Prize Money: Winner earns $1.69 million; runner-up earns $907,880

       

Preview, Prediction

Pavlyuchenkova may have never previously made it past the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam event, but she's been playing in major tournaments for a long time. The 29-year-old Russian's first appearance at one came at Wimbledon in 2007.

Not only that, but Pavlyuchenkova had made it to the quarterfinals six times, including at the 2011 French Open. But in her following nine trips to Roland Garros, she never advanced further than the third round.

Things have gone much better for Pavlyuchenkova this year. She's won six straight matches to reach the final, which includes three victories against seeded opponents. Her most impressive win came in the third round, when she defeated No. 3 Aryna Sabalenka 6-4, 2-6, 6-0.

Pavlyuchenkova then beat No. 15 Victoria Azarenka and No. 21 Elena Rybakina in the following two rounds, both in three sets. By beating unseeded Tamara Zidansek in the semifinals in straight sets, Pavlyuchenkova secured her spot in the French Open final.

"It's been a long road," Pavlyuchenkova said, per D'Arcy Maine on ESPN.com. "It's been a lot of ups and downs. It's been a tough one. I definitely didn't expect this year being in the final. I guess you can't expect those things. I was just there working hard, doing everything possible."

As for Krejcikova, she is much less experienced when it comes to competing in major tournaments. The 25-year-old from the Czech Republic hadn't qualified for one until the 2018 French Open. And this is only the fifth time that she's played in the main draw at a Grand Slam event.

Krejcikova's best previous showing came at last year's French Open, when she reached the fourth round. This year, she has taken down four seeded opponents among her six victories. Krejcikova defeated No. 5 Elina Svitolina in straight sets in the third round, and she also beat Gauff in straight sets in the quarterfinals.

In the semis, Krejcikova defeated No. 17 Maria Sakkari 7-5, 4-6, 9-7. Now, she'll need to beat yet another seeded opponent if she hopes to make an improbable underdog run to her first career Grand Slam title.

"I just think it's going to be a lot of fun," Krejcikova said, per Maine. "I'm just really going to enjoy it because I was never expecting to actually be this far during this tournament. I'm just going to have fun and just going to enjoy and fight until the end."

That mindset could help Krejcikova score yet another upset victory. However, Pavlyuchenkova has been waiting longer to get here. And after coming up short in the quarterfinals or earlier at Grand Slam events a number of times, she's going to be extra motivated to capitalize on this opportunity.

It's going to be a close matchup, as both of these women have played competitive matches throughout the tournament. And neither of them have played on a stage this big before, so there will be nerves from both of them, particularly early on in the match.

But Pavlyuchenkova's experience will pay off, and she'll find a way to dig deep in the third set and finally emerge victorious as the winner at a major tournament. In her 14th French Open appearance, Pavlyuchenkova will leave Roland Garros as the champion.

Prediction: Pavlyuchenkova wins in three sets

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