• Tue. Jun 15th, 2021

Unseeded Czech Barbora Krejčíková has overcome a match point and an apparent blown call to advance to her first grand slam final


Jun 11, 2021


Unseeded Czech Barbora Krejčíková has overcome a match point and an apparent blown call to advance to her first grand slam final by outlasting 17th seed Maria Sakkari of Greece 7-5, 4-6, 9-7 at the French Open.

Key points:

  • Unseeded Barbora Krejčíková took more than three hours to clinch a spot in the French Open final at Roland Garros
  • The doubles specialist beat Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the longest women’s semi-final in Paris
  • The Czech player will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, after the Russian reached a first major final in her 52nd grand slam tournament



A questionable ruling by chair umpire Pierre Bacchi in the final game briefly delayed Krejčíková’s victory, but five points later she hit a backhand winner to close out the biggest win of her career.

Her opponent will be 29-year-old Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who also advanced to her first major final by beating unseeded Tamara Zidansek, 7-5, 6-3.

It was only the second time in the professional era that there were four first-time women’s grand slam semi-finalists at a major tournament, and the first time since the 1978 Australian Open.


The in-form Barbora Krejčíková won her 11th-straight match on tour to put herself into the final of the French Open.

Krejčíková, a two-time major doubles champion ranked 33rd in the world, is playing singles in the main draw of a major tournament for just the fifth time.

The number 31-seeded Pavlyuchenkova, by contrast, has played in more majors before reaching a final — 52 — than any other woman.

A top-20 player as a teen, she had been 0-6 in major quarter-finals before finally surmounting that hurdle on Tuesday, and was steadier than the big-swinging Zidansek in their semi-final.

Later, she pledged to enjoy the final because it had been such a long time coming.

“I had my own long special road,” she said. “I was very close to semi-finals couple times, but then it wouldn’t happen.”

In the second semi-final, Krejčíková erased a match point in the ninth game of the final set with a swinging volley for a nervy winner, and 40 minutes later they were still playing.

With Krejčíková holding a match point in the final game, Sakkari hit a forehand near the baseline. Krejčíková stopped and raised her arms in triumph, but Bacchi climbed off his chair, took a look, called the shot good and ordered the point replayed.


A TV replay indicated the ball was clearly long, but video review isn’t used at Roland Garros, where the balls usually leave clear marks in the clay.

Krejčíková kept her cool and was celebrating for good moments later after converting her fifth match point.

The match lasted three hours 18 minutes, the longest women’s semi-final in Paris.

There wasn’t as much drama in the day’s first match, but the quality of play was as enjoyable as the warm, cloudless weather.

The 85th-ranked Zidansek, who this week became the first Slovenian woman to reach a grand slam quarter-final, was the better player for much of the first set, moving well and hitting the more aggressive groundstrokes.

But Pavlyuchenkova won the most-important points, and Zidansek dumped consecutive shaky serves into the net to lose the set.


Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova broke a long drought to reach her first grand slam singles final, with a win over Tamara Zidansek.

Pavlyuchenkova’s groundstrokes carried more sting in the second set as she raced to a 4-1 lead. Her first sign of nerves came as she double-faulted twice, including on break point, to make it 4-3, but she broke back and easily served out the victory.

“Tennis is such a mental sport,” she said.

“That’s what is really hard about tennis.”

Zidansek could only agree.

“A new situation for me, semi-finals of a grand slam,” she said.

Pavlyuchenkova, who has won 12 tour titles, will climb back into the top 20 next week for first time since January 2018.

Krejčíková has won 11 consecutive matches, including her first WTA singles title last month at Strasbourg.

She is the eighth unseeded women’s finalist at the French Open in the professional era, and the fourth in the past five years.

She seeks to become the first Czech woman to win at Roland Garros since Hana Mandlikova in 1981.

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