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Tennis-Pavlyuchenkova or Krejcikova write closing act in story of the unexpected | The Mighty 790 KFGO

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PARIS (Reuters) After one of the most unpredictable women’s singles draws in French Open history, Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is on the cusp of finally taking the title long-predicted since she was a precocious teenager.

It has been a long journey for the 29-year-old, who has reached her first Grand Slam final on the 52nd request, taking on unseeded Czech Barbora Krejcikova, who has also explored new avenues these two weeks.

No other player has ever made so many attempts to reach a final of any of the four major sports.

Previously, Italy’s Roberta Vinci played the most Grand Slams before reaching her first title match and fighting out the 2015 US Open final as 44th. Tenacious Spaniard David Ferrer holds the men’s record for perseverance, reaching the final of the French Open in his 42nd Grand Slam appearance in 2013.

Both failed to take the last step to glory.

Should Pavlyuchenkova, who turns 30 next month, avoid that fate, she will become the second oldest Grand Slam woman winner in the professional era, behind Flavia Pennetta (33 years at the US Open 2015).

Trying to predict who will get their hands on the Suzanne Lenglen trophy might be unwise at the end of a tournament where seeds withered in the Parisian sun.

While four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka withdrew in the wake of a controversy over her media boycott and Ash Barty retired injured, all the other avid players couldn’t live up to their bill.

DOUBLE SPECIALIST

Only three top-10 seeds made it to the round of 16 and six of the eight quarter-finalists had never reached that stage for a professional-era record at a Grand Slam.

All four Roland Garros semi-finalists were debutants at that stage of a slam, with Pavlyuchenkova in 31st seeding a string of six quarter-final defeats in majors, the first all the way back in 2011 when she lost to Francesca Schiavone with the win in sight. .

When asked what her 14-year-old self, who won the Australian Open junior title, might have said about the time it would take her future self to reach a Grand Slam final, the likeable Russian said: Why did it take so long?

Pavlyuchenkova will be wary of Krejcikova, who saved a match point against Maria Sakkari in the semifinals to extend her winning run to 11.

Krejcikova, who rose 100 places in the rankings last year to a career high 33, one spot behind Pavlyuchenkova, defeated Sloane Stephens, the runner-up in 2018 and tamed teenage sensation Coco Gauff en route to the final in what only the Czechs fifth. main draw appearance in a Grand Slam.

Formerly known as a doubles specialist, she is also in the women’s doubles final with regular partner Katerina Siniakova. A late bloomer in singles, Krejcikova has impressed with her mental toughness and tactical acumen.

It just took me some time, but I think now is the right time, said the 25-year-old.

Mainly mentally I think I’m just there. I just think (the finale) it’s going to be really fun. I’m going to enjoy it because I never expected to get this far in this tournament.

After such a long climb, it might be harder for Pavlyuchenkova to make the final push to the top.

Maybe I had a lot of expectations that I couldn’t handle over the years, she said. I’m definitely trying to absorb this and enjoy this very special moment as much as possible for me.

Whatever the outcome at Court Philippe Chatrier on Saturday, for the sixth consecutive year a first women’s Grand Slam winner will be crowned in Paris.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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