Day of thrilling play on clay

Zidansek, Pavlyuchenkova fight through to semis

Day of thrilling play on clay

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Elena Rybakina 6-7(2) 6-2 9-7

PARIS, June 8

Unseeded Tamara Zidansek became the first Slovenian woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinals as she beat Spain’s Paula Badosa 7-5 4-6 8-6 in a gripping French Open battle today.

A match between two Grand Slam quarterfinals debutants was full of momentum shifts with world No. 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.

Pavlyuchenkova awaits

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

Six times the 29-year-old had lost in the quarterfinals 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 quarterfinals when she opened up a 4-1 lead in the first set but Pavlyuchenkova hit back to force a tiebreak. Pavlyuchenkova took the momentum into the second set to level the match and kept her nose ahead.

Rybakina, who beat Serena Williams in the fourth round, held serve three times to stay alive in the third set. But failed at the fourth time, ending the contest in tame fashion with a double fault. Th e Russian will face Tamara Zidansek for a place in Saturday’s final. — Reuters

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