Pavlyuchenkova* 5-3 Zidansek (*denotes next server)
Zidansek starts off with a forehand winner and then a sublime drop shot to go 30-0 up.
Her forehand takes centre stage again in the next point and she opens up with another cross court winner which Pavluchenkova can but watch. According to the stats, her topspin forehand is averaging nearly 80mph – similar numbers to Rafa Nadal no less.
But then Pavlyuchenkova grinds back to deuce, and a double fault from Zidansek gifts the Russian a break point at what could be a crucial stage of this set. Zidansek goes for the big forehand again, and it veers wide.
Pavlyuchenkova to serve for the set next. Big moment.
Pavlyuchenkova 4-3 Zidansek* (*denotes next server)
Pavlyuchenkova goes 30-0 up and this game was looking routine but then Zidansek stretches her to level up at 30-30. The young Slovenian then over eggs two forehands which go long, giving Pavlyuchenkova the hold.
Pavlyuchenkova* 2-2 Zidansek (*denotes next server)
Pavlyuchenkova speeds to 0-40 to set up three break-back points. But Zidansek ups the tempo and saves all three to deuce.
Zidansek fluffs an overhead smash with the sun in her eyes though, and Pavlyuchenkova gets her fourth chance to break. She moves up to the net throughout the rally, taking an aggressive approach and moving the Slovenian across the baseline and Zidansek hits her forehand into the net. Pavlyuchenkova breaks and we’re back on serve.
Pavlyuchenkova 0-1 Zidansek* (*denotes next server)
Pavlyuchenkova looks like she’s on her way to an easy hold, but an error and Zidansek’s powerful forehand see the players on deuce.
Zidansek then sets up her first break point, which Pavlyuchnekova saves with a cool ace before sending her forehand into the net for a second break point. Her approach shot goes long, and Zidansek gets the early break.
Pavlyuchenkova has reached the last eight of every Grand Slam, but she always stumbled at that point. Her first appearance was here at Roland Garros, 10 years ago when she was a teenager. The 29-year-old made it seventh-time lucky to progress to the last four today. Can she go one better?
If she does, she will become the first woman to play more than 50 majors before reaching her first final.
… to today’s coverage of the French Open women’s semi-finals! If the quarter-finals are anything to go by, today is set to be full of drama.
The entire fortnight has been unexpected in every way in the women’s side of the draw, with only one top 10 player progressing to the last-eight due to drop outs, injuries and some shock results.
None more so than Maria Sakkari’s win over reigning champion Iga Swiatek in straight sets yesterday. Though Swiatek was struggling at points with an underlying injury, the result was a major upset – one which ended her 11-match, 22-set winning streak in Paris.
It means Sakkari becomes the first Greek woman to reach a major semi-final in singles, and moves into the last four as the top seed left in the draw – at 17th – and probably the favourite to lift the trophy.
Before a ball is even hit though, today is already history-making. Barbora Krejcikova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Sakkari and Tamara Zidansek are all appearing in the last four at a major for the first time. This has only happened at one other Grand Slam tournament in the Open Era – the 1978 Australian Open, when Diane Evers, Christine Matison, Betsy Nagelsen and Chris O’Neil were the four semi-finalists.
The first semi-final, between Pavlyuchenkova and Zidansek is perhaps the most difficult to predict. Zidansek is ranked 85 in the world, and competing in only her fifth main draw appearance at a slam. Meanwhile Pavlyuchenkova has heaps of experience, this being her 53rd major appearance and regularly appearing inside the top 30 over her career.
The Russian’s best previous result at Roland Garros was a quarter-final appearance 10 years ago and she beat two major threats in Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka on her way to the semi-final. But neither she nor Zidansek have ever played each other, so there is an unknown quality to this one.
Later, Krejcikova – also unseeded – will face Sakkari. The Czech lies just outside the top 30 in the world, but beat Elina Svitolina, Sloane Stephens and Coco Gauff to get to this point – proving she has the ability to rise in big moments. In her two previous meetings with Sakkari – including in Dubai earlier this year – Krejcikova got the better of the Greek and will take confidence from that.
We will be here all afternoon with live updates and build up of the action – beginning at 2pm.