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Thursday, July 1, 2021

French Open 2021 - it is : Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs Barbora Krejcikova

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs  Barbora Krejcikova  ~  following !  - the first thought that occurred to me is it would make a great complex strong password – I mean the names put together without bag perhaps with Caps – ‘AnastasiaPavlyuchenkova@2021BarboraKrejcikova’.  Wonder who they are ? 

                                                     Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

                                                     Barbora Krejcikova   

Those days, when we were following French Open more on newspapers - first-seeded Björn Borg successfully defended his title, defeating Víctor Pecci, Sr. 6–3, 6–1, 6–7(6–8), 6–4 in the final to win the Men's Singles tennis title in the year 1979.  First-seeded Chris Evert Lloyd  defeated Wendy Turnbull 6–2, 6–0 in the final to win the Women's Singles tennis title.  The next year – in 1980, First-seeded and two-time defending champion Björn Borg successfully defended his tennis title at the 1980 French Open, defeating Vitas Gerulaitis 6–4, 6–1, 6–2 in the final. First-seeded Chris Evert defeated Virginia Ruzici 6–0, 6–3 in the final to win the Women's Singles tennis title.  Life was simple those days. 

French open is held in Roland-Garros stadium which was built in 1928.  Its history has it that during those times,  the team of Jacques "Toto" Brugnon, Jean Borotra, Henri Cochet and René Lacoste pulled off one of the biggest shocks in 20th century sport. The famous foursome upset all the odds by winning the Davis Cup on American soil, and in doing so set up a rematch in 1928, in Paris.  Meriting the victory, 3 hectares of land was given to French Tennis Federation and the new stadium was sought to be named after Roland-Garros,  an aviation pioneer.  In the late 1970s & 1980s, the matches of Bjorn Borg and Chris Evert Lloyd were charming everyone.  Björn Borg won the French open a record six times.

Elite women’s tennis has been without clear and consistent winners for a while now, but a final between Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia and Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic was a scenario no one would have predicted. No.31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova from Russia takes on the unseeded   Barbora Krejcikova !   

Pavlyuchenkova, seeded 31st, defeated the unseeded Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia, 7-5, 6-3, in the semifinals. Krejcikova, also unseeded, upset the No. 17 seed, Maria Sakkari of Greece, 7-5, 4-6, 9-7, in a match with wild momentum swings and match points on both sides of the net, even one that involved an overturned line call. Pavlyuchenkova, 29, is a veteran, having turned professional in 2005. Krejcikova, 25, is more of a late bloomer, having arrived in 2014. But neither had reached a Grand Slam semifinal before, and it showed as they triumphed despite multiple lost service games in nearly every set and more errors than most players could survive. Yet the effort was enough for each of them, if only barely. 

Should she go one further she would become the first Russian since Sharapova seven years ago in Paris to win a major. That ultimate prize had lingered in her thoughts at every one of her 52 campaigns. As a former junior world No.1 with 12 tour titles, 37 top-10 victories and quarter-final appearances at all four majors, the 29-year-old had every reason to believe she had hit hers. In her 52nd major, after 122 main draw matches, the Russian will play in her maiden Slam final on Saturday. Her 7-5, 6-3 triumph over fellow first-time semi-finalist Tamara Zidansek on Thursday made her the first Russian to reach a major final since Maria Sharapaova lost to Serena Williams in the Australian Open decider more than six years ago.

On the otherside of the lawn, the  Cinderella rise of Barbora Krejcikova has captivated tennis fans ever since she stormed to the second week at Roland-Garros last autumn, with a ranking of 114. On Thursday in Paris, the 25-year-old Czech authored another chapter of a fairy tale that is both inspiring and inspired. Unseeded Krejcikova saved a match point and notched a dramatic 7-5, 4-6, 9-7 triumph over No.17 seed Maria Sakkari, claiming a spot in her maiden Grand Slam singles final, where she will face Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the No.31 seed. “I cannot believe it's actually happening,” Krejcikova said, visibly emotional in her post-match press conference. “I cannot believe it.”

The complicated scoreline only partially explains the complexity of the three-hour and 18-minute seesaw battle that will go down as the longest ever women’s semi-final at Roland-Garros, in terms of games played.  Both players displayed extraordinary mental toughness across the 84-minute deciding set that felt more like a roller coaster ride than a tennis match at times.   Krejcikova, a former doubles world No.1, had never won a singles title until two weeks ago, when she claimed the trophy in Strasbourg, on the eve of Roland-Garros. Now, riding a career-best 11-match tour-level winning streak, she’ll aim to become the first woman to hoist the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen after a saving match point in 16 years.  Still alive in the doubles draw, she could become the first woman to claim the singles and doubles titles in Paris since Mary Pierce in 2000.

Over the course of these last few years, Krejcikova has made it clear that her relationship with the great Jana Novotna has played a pivotal role in her success. The Czech legend, who coached Krejcikova from 2014 to 2017 before passing after a battle with cancer in November of 2017, is revered by those who knew her and widely adored in the tennis community. Her legacy continues to grow, thanks to the success of Krejcikova.

So it would be - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs  Barbora Krejcikova – in the finals at Roland Garros 2021.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11th June 2021. 

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