Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova downed Elena Rybakina after a lengthy tussle that lasted two hours and 33 minutes. The 31st-seeded Russian came from a set down to beat the 21st seed from Kazakhstan, 6-7(2), 6-2, 9-7 to reach the French Open semi-final.
Rybakina started the match on a strong note and made the first inroads on Pavlyuchenkova’s serve, taking an early break and going up 4-1 in the first set. However, the 29-year-old pulled her back and levelled the set long enough to thrust it into the tie-break.
In the tie-break, it was Rybakina who raced away with a couple of mini-breaks to go up 5-0. Although Pavlyuchenkova did win two points thereafter, it wasn’t enough to prevent her younger rival from going up in the match.
Pavlyuchenkova drew first blood in the second set as she broke Rybakina to go up 4-2 in the set. From that game on, the Russian would go on to win the next five games on the trot that first helped clinch the second set 6-2 and then go up an early break in the third, 2-0.
French Open: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova stands tall
Rybakina not only got the break back but also won the next two games in a row to break Pavlyuchenkova and take the lead in the third set at 3-2. However, Pavlyuchenkova wasn’t done and she got the break back immediately in the sixth game.
The match remained on serve from then on until the 16th game when Rybakina’s serve came under pressure and a winner by Pavlyuchenkova brought up a match point. As it turned out, it was the first and only match point with Rybakina’s double fault giving her opponent the win.
There wasn’t much separating the two players in terms of winners. Rybakina had two more than Pavlyuchenkova’s 44. However, the biggest difference was in the number of unforced errors both players hit. While Pavlyuchenkova had 28 unforced errors, Rybakina had 43.
Pavlyuchenkova went on to finish the match with 121 points, eight more than Rybakina’s 113. The French Open semi-final will be Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova’s debut in the semis of a Major. The Russian will take on fellow first-timer Tamara Zidansek. Zidansek got past Paula Badosa in the first quarter-final.