The 2021 French Open women’s singles final is all set and will be contested between Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Barbora Krejcikova. Thursday’s semi-finals were eventful with the second of the semis surely the most dramatic match of the year so far. I’m still processing it! Read on for Thursday’s diary from Paris where I had a lot of thoughts. It’s a ramble but bear with me 😂.
Day 1️⃣2️⃣ Highlights
Barbora Krejcikova d. (17) Maria Sakkari, 7-5 4-6 9-7
😮😭😬😍🥴😱👏🤩🥴🥴🥴🥴🥴… an accurate depictions of my emotions watching this match.
So the headlines. Barbora Krejcikova saved a match point to beat Maria Sakkari in three hours and 18 minutes and reach her first Slam final (in singles!). Where do I start? How do I start? 😂 For the first two and a half sets I was mostly thinking this was an absolute shocker. It’s easy to overlook though because of the third set, notably the last 45 minutes, and the unwavering, gripping tension. It’s these matches, regardless of the quality, the ones that make you scream at the TV and hide behind the sofa, which is why I love tennis.
A few details about the match… Sakkari paid the price for two missed two break points in the first set, leading 3-1* 40-15*. Sakkari lost her way, overforcing, as a slow-starting Krejcikova slowly began to find consistency on her strokes. First set, Krejcikova 7-5. Sakkari settled down in the second set and played with more margin. A 4-0 lead became 4-3 but she held on to serve it out. Second set, Sakkari 6-4.
The third set. THE THIRD SET! There were two key plotlines that defined the entire match. Krejcikova’s backhand and Sakkari’s patience in the rallies. Sakkari secured the first break at 2-1, many thanks to a bundle of netted Krejcikova backhands. For a time, the third set reminded me of Sakkari’s second set against Swiatek. She defended her break of serve brilliantly. At 5-3* 40-30*, Sakkari had a match point on Krejcikova’s serve. Krejcikova saved it.
Sakkari served for the match at *5-4. The patience and point construction that she had shown up to this point in the third set evaporated. It was a game of mostly Sakkari errors on the second shot of the point as she looked for the quick winner. Krejcikova broke back for 5-5.
Krejcikova then took control and a few games later, it was her turn at this match point malarkey. Three of them leading 7-6 and on Sakkari’s serve. All saved, the second of them in truly clutch fashion by Sakkari. The momentum swings were nausea-inducing! Sakkari then looked to have the upper hand. Nope. Krejcikova held and showed a surprising sense of calm to put the pressure back on Sakkari.
The most dramatic moment of the match came in the final game. Krejcikova had a fourth match point on Sakkari’s serve at 8-7. A Sakkari ball sailed close to the line. Krejcikova thought it was out. The umpire thought otherwise 👀. Omg the drama! The Hawkeye pictures on TV showed it was out. Let’s not go there because I don’t have the energy for a Hawkeye tangent 😂. Having thought she’d won it, Krejcikova then stared down a game point for Sakkari. The game went on and Krejcikova managed to chalk up a fifth match point. This time she took it. Wow. I think that was the most exciting finish to a match that I can remember in a very long time. Krejcikova’s composure in those final points having thought she’d won it is beyond my comprehension.
I have mixed emotions. I’m so happy for Krejcikova and her post-match interview was a delight. Her words about Jana got me. The emotion that was pouring out of her 😥. On the other hand, I am GUTTED for Sakkari. Absolutely gutted. One of the most crushing losses of recent times. I hope she’s OK.
Geez i’m a mess. What an absolute thriller! Who’s sorting out the “I survived Krejcikova-Sakkari at RG21” t-shirts? I want one 😂😂😂.
(31) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova d. Tamara Zidansek, 7-5 6-3
Pavs is a Slam finalist!
It may not have been the semi-finals we had expected, or even hoped for, but both of them delivered. This was a decent match and I have to say, better than a lot of recent Slam semi-finals that i’ve watched.
Zidansek certainly played her part and was the flashier of the pair in the opener with some big forehands and one of the shots of the tournament (see later in this post). I developed a real appreciation for Zidansek’s game and her movement and anticipation on the clay. Zidansek rather inexplicably dropped her level in two service games, one when serving to stay in the first set at *5-6.
The difference in this match was ultimately Pavs’s serve. Aside from one rough service game with two double faults at *4-2 in the second set, Pavs’s lone wobble, the serve was the constant. It was actually the second serve that really held up. I probably would have expected Pavs to dictate the match but that wasn’t the case at all. It was a contained performance and Pavs was the steadier and more consistent player.
There was barely a reaction from Pavs on match point. I sensed she was exhausted at the end, mostly from the mental tension! Thrilled for Pavs. This wasn’t an easy match and she handled the occasion superbly.
Best point 🎾
The second match point save from Sakkari. Krejcikova threw everything at her in terms of variety and Sakkari patiently found a way.
Hot shot 🔥
This was unbelievable. I know there’s a huge slice of luck but one of the shots of the tournament 😂.
Favourite snap 📸
Some gorgeous shots.
Recommended media 📺
If you didn’t see Krejcikova’s post-match interview, please watch it 😍😭😭😭.
Final watchlist 📺
(31) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Barbora Krejcikova
8 thoughts on “2021 French Open, Semi-Final Highlights: Pavlyuchenkova vs. Krejcikova for the title”
“I survived Krejcikova-Sakkari at RG21” … 😆 … You know what, I would stay away from that t-shirt else I end up needing hours of emotional and psychological counseling. It was both brilliant and daft at the same time.
Felt quite surreal afterwards. Oddly, whether, it was mere coincidence or the tennis gods gleefully willed it so, it really was a Jana Novotná-esque roller coaster experience. Krejcikova, how many lives does she have left/saved throughout this tournament. I found her moon balls annoying at one point, then suddenly I realised the wisdom in it against a slightly angsty Sakkari. She was winning the mental tussle. Sakkari will be gutted, but much like Coco Gauff, the lessons from this loss, as bitter as they seem, will likely make her a better player going forward mentally.
I think Pavlyuchenkova matches up well with Krejcikova. Pavs might have to be more of the aggressor this time. Might come down to mental fortitude and the ‘grandness’ of the stage. Krejcikova is still in the doubles I think, some run she has going.
Krejcikova must be utterly exhausted at this point – it isn’t like she’s had quick easy wins, for the most part! But her point construction in big moments is really impeccable and an absolute joy to watch. I do feel like Pavs might prevail though. From what I’ve seen this week (which is admittedly little) her game has all really come together in a big way. It’ll be a nice story whichever of them wins though!
Agree, love watching Krejcikova build points. Her groundstrokes are so fluid. I haven’t got a clue with this final.
I think Pavs is exhausted too; according to the court reporter after her match, she was really glad that the match hadn’t gone to three sets. I doubt that we’ll get a classic final tomorrow because both players won’t have enough left in the tank (but I’d like to be proven wrong obviously).
At least she gets a day off today, unlike Krejcikova who’s got to play doubles later on.
Brilliant and daft at the same time. So true! I like your take on Sakkari and Gauff. At first I was thinking this could be a crusher for months for Sakkari but hopefully it’s more of a learning to curve, something to apply going forward.
Sakkari sounded pretty positive in the press conference. If she continues playing like this then she’ll have other opportunities.
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Wowzerssssss.. ultimately I think barba J in 3 roller coaster sets 🎢 she deserves it.
Will be cheering a little more on Pavs but will be ultimately happy with whoever wins. I’m thrilled as I can just enjoy the tennis without being too stressed about the outcome 😀
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