2021 French Open: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fights past Tamara Zidansek to reach first major final
Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images

31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is into the French Open final after a tough 7-5, 6-3 victory over Tamara Zidansek in one hour, 34 minutes in the first semifinal on Court Philippe Chatrier.

The Russian advanced to Saturday's title match in her 52nd career major appearance, the first woman in the Open era to reach a Slam final after playing 50 or more majors.

Pavlyuchenkova was more efficient on break point chances, converting six of ten opportunities while Zidansek was just four of 11. While the Slovenian hit 27 winners as compared to the Russian's 19, she committed 33 unforced errors while the 31st seed only had 22.

Overturning an early deficit in the first set, Pavlyuchenkova claimed four straight games to go from 5-5 to a 7-5, 2-0 lead. Zidansek rallied, but it was the Russian who took the final two games of the match to book her spot in Saturday's showpiece.

Russian rises to the occasion, ousts feisty Slovenian to claim first spot in final

Zidansek broke in a long first game that saw Pavlyuchenkova save the first break point with an ace, but after an exchange of slices, Pavlyuchenkova floated one on the forehand side long. The Slovenian followed that up with a hold to love to take a 2-0 lead.

Zidansek's forehand, her biggest weapon, was working early on/Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP via Getty Images
Zidansek's forehand, her biggest weapon, was working early on/Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP via Getty Images

The Russian looked to attack with her backhand and it set up triple break point only to see Zidansek save all three. Despite the world number 85 not missing a first serve up to that point, she faced a fourth break point after misplaying a lob and Pavlyuchenkova converted.

Zidansek raced out to a 40-0 lead as the Slovenian threw in errors and a pair of double faults, gifting a break to Pavlyuchenkova, but the Russian failed to serve out the set at 5-3 and in the blink of an eye, the set was level at 5-5.

Facing a 15-40 deficit in the 11th game, Pavlyuchenkova erased both chances with strong serving and she eventually held. Nerves crept in for Zidansek at the wrong moment and on set point, she double-faulted to hand the 31st seed the opening set.

The start of the second set saw Pavlyuchenkova save a break point, dictating the rallies from the baseline to hold and she subsequently broke Zidansek on her third break point of the game to take command at 2-0, but the Slovenian immediately broke back.

Pinging back and forth as more service breaks were traded, Pavlyuchenkova appeared to waste a 4-1 lead as she threw in consecutive double faults to hand Zidansek the break back at 4-3, but she broke again to serve for the match.

Pavlyuchenkova's steadiness on her backhand was the deciding factor in the match/Photo: Mustafa Yalcin/Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Pavlyuchenkova's steadiness on her backhand was the deciding factor in the match/Photo: Mustafa Yalcin/Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Faced with the biggest game of her career, the Russian was ahead 30-15 and a booming serve set up two match points. She only needed one as Zidansek committed a final error as Pavlyuchenkova sealed a spot in Saturday's title decider.

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