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Russian Pavlyuchenkova reaches first major final in Paris


Tour veteran Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated unseeded Tamara Zidansek to enter her first Grand Slam final at the French Open.

Paris: Tour veteran Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia defeated unseeded Tamara Zidansek 7-5, 6-3 at the French Open on Thursday to enter her first Grand Slam final.

31st seeded 29-year-old Pavlyuchenkova is playing in her 52nd major tournament and 14th French Open. She was 0-6 in the major quarterfinals before overcoming that hurdle on Tuesday and was more stable than Zidansek in her semi-finals.

Pavlyuchenkova will play on Saturday against the winner of Thursday’s second match – between 17-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece and unseeded Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic. This was only the second time in the professional era that there were four Grand Slam female semifinalists in a major tournament, the first since the 1978 Australian Open.

Nevertheless, the quality of play in the first match was mostly as good as the warm and cloudless weather. 85th-ranked Zidansek, who this week became the first Slovenian woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final, was the better player for the first set, moving well and hitting more aggressive groundstrokes.

But persistent Pavlyuchenkova won the most important points, and Zidansek consistently threw unsteady serve into the net to lose the set.

Pavlyuchenkova served well, and her groundstroke stinged more in the second set as she took a 4-1 lead. The first sign of nerve came after she double-faulted twice, including at a break point, to make her 4-3, but she broke back and took the win with ease.

Pavlyuchenkova, who won 12 Tour titles, will return to the top 20 next week for the first time since January 2018.

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Alcohol reported from Miami.

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More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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