Tennis

Pavlyuchenkova back in French Open quarterfinals after 10 years


PARIS — Ten years later, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is back in the quarterfinals of the French Open after beating 2013 semifinalist Victoria Azarenka 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday.

Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, who was doing the courtside interview, congratulated her.

“I’ve known you for a long time. We’re friends off the court,” Bartoli said. “I can see the joy on your face.”

Indeed, it was hard for Pavlyuchenkova to stop smiling.

“It’s just incredible, even that I’m still playing tennis such a long time after,” she said. “It’s a surprise for me. I fought hard and I’m very happy to win.”

The 29-year-old Russian has reached the quarters at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, but has never reached the semifinals at any major.

She might face 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams next.

The seventh-seeded American was playing No. 21 Elena Rybakina in the fourth round later Sunday, with the winner facing Pavlyuchenkova.

The former top-ranked Azarenka saved two break points before clinching the first set on a sunny Court Philippe-Chatrier, where the crowd was subdued.

Less so the broadcast crew from France Television, whose presenter and guests are perched up high above the players. The match umpire asked them, during the second set, to talk more quietly as their enthusiasm got the better of them.

Azarenka got a telling off, too, of sorts: a time violation warning for taking too long to serve in the third game of the deciding set — which, coincidentally, happened just as the wind was picking up.

Tamara Zidansek, meanwhile, became the first Slovenian woman to reach the quarterfinals of a major.

She won 7-6 (4), 6-1 against Romanian Sorana Cirstea after saving a set point in a tight first set between the unseeded players.

The 23-year-old Zidansek dropped to her knees and held her head in her hands after winning on her first match point.

Zidansek’s run is even more impressive, considering the former snowboard enthusiast had never beaten a top 10-ranked player before this tournament or been past the first round here.

No. 33 Paula Badosa of Spain joined her in the last eight for the first time at any major, beating No. 20 Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

In later men’s play, fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas faced No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta and No. 6 Alexander Zverev was playing Kei Nishikori.





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