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Zverev powers into first French Open semifinal; Pavlyuchenkova outlasts Rybakina

Reuters/Paris
Filed on June 8, 2021
Germany's Alexander Zverev celebrates after defeating Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. (AP)

The German sixth seed will play the winner between Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in Sunday's final


Alexander Zverev eased into his first French Open semifinal on Tuesday with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 win over Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

The German sixth seed will play the winner between Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in Sunday’s final.

Earlier, Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova finally reached a Grand Slam semifinal at the 52nd time of asking as she beat Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina 6-7(2) 6-2 9-7 on Tuesday.

Six times the 29-year-old had lost at the quarterfinal stage of one of the four majors, but she used all her experience to overcome her doubles partner in a gruelling scrap.

Rybakina, 21, looked in control of her first Grand Slam quarterfinal when she opened up a 4-1 lead in the first set, but Pavlyuchenkova hit back to force a tiebreak.

The Russian took the momentum into the second set to level the match and kept her nose ahead in a tense finale.

Rybakina, who beat Serena Williams in the fourth round, held serve three times to stay alive in the third set.

But the 21st seed failed at the fourth time of asking, ending the contest in tame fashion with a double-fault.

Pavlyuchenkova will face fellow semifinal debutant Tamara Zidansek for a place in Saturday’s final after the Slovenian also came though a long battle, against Spain’s Paula Badosa.

Unseeded Zidansek became the first Slovenian woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal as she beat Badosa 7-5 4-6 8-6 in a gripping French Open battle on Tuesday.

A match between two Grand Slam quarterfinal debutants was full of momentum shifts with world number 85 Zidansek leading by a set and 4-2 before the big-hitting Badosa, ranked 35, stormed back to reel off six games in succession.

Badosa, who was on a nine-match winning streak on clay, looked the favourite to win the decider when she led 2-0.

But former competitive snowboarder Zidansek stopped the rot just in time, then showed real grit at 6-6 when she emerged from a pivotal game having saved three break points.

Zidansek produced two forehand winners to fend off the first two and then on the third she got lucky when her shot took a horrible bounce to deceive Badosa.

Both players struggled to cope with their nerves at various points during the match but it was Badosa who crumbled in the final game, serving a double fault and falling 15-40 behind.

Zidansek wasted the first match point but nailed another forehand to end the contest with a 48th winner.





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