Pavlyuchenkova enters French Open quarterfinals after 10 years

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will be eyeing a maiden Grand Slam semifinal berth. Photo: Reuters

Paris: Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova rolled back the years as she reached the quarterfinals of the French Open for the first time since 2011 by beating former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday.

The 31st seed, who will play in the last eight of a Grand Slam for the seventh time but has never progressed further, sent down 44 winners in a display of constant aggression on a sun-kissed Philippe Chatrier court.

She will next face either 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams or Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina.

"It's incredible that I'm still playing tennis 10 years after, so it comes as a bit of a surprise to me. I fought on every point and I'm really happy to go through," said Pavlyuchenkova.

Belarusian Azarenka, seeded 15th, was a doubt for the claycourt major after withdrawing from the Madrid Open last month with back pain, but she had been solid so far. Against Pavlyuchenkova, however, the 2020 US Open runner-up fell 3-1 behind after losing her first service game but she kept her cool to break back and steal her opponent's serve in the 11th game before holding to bag the opening set.

She dropped serve three times in a see-saw second set and Pavlyuchenkova took even more risks in the decider. The Russian was rewarded with a break for 3-2 and she did not release her grip until Azarenka buried a backhand into the net on match point.

First for Badosa, Zidansek 

 Paula Badosa reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal when she beat former finalist Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, with her aggressive baseline play outclassing the Czech 20th seed on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

The players traded breaks in the opening stages and were level at 4-4 when Badosa broke again before keeping her nerve to save two break points in the final game to seal the opening set.

While Badosa thrived on the longer rallies, Vondrousova looked to finish points quickly and the Czech claimed the crucial break to go up 4-2 before serving out the second set to take it into a decider.

Vondrousova's fatigue was in stark contrast to the energy of Badosa, who broke twice to take a 4-1 lead in the final set. The Spaniard broke a third time in the final game, when Vondrousova's return on her second match point went long, to set up a quarterfinal clash with unseeded Tamara Zidansek.

Tamara Zidansek
Tamara Zidansek became the first Slovenian woman to enter a Grand Slam singles quarterfinal. Photo: Reuters

Zidansek became the first woman from Slovenia to reach the singles quarterfinals of a Grand Slam with a 7-6(4), 6-1 victory over unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea.


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