Tennis rubs its eyes because Paris lights up a final that absolutely no one would suspect. After the progressive fall of the main favorites, day in and day out also from the starting point of the tournament, the poster announces for this Saturday (15.00, Eurosport) a crash as deserved as it is unimaginable. A Russian against a Czech, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Barbora Krejcikova, will meet for the women’s title after respectively getting rid of Tamara Zidansek (7-5 and 6-3) and Maria Sakkari (7-5, 4-6 and 9-7 ). So there will be a new champion in Paris, confirming again the volatility of the WTA circuit: the 32nd against the 33rd. Seeing is believing.
Pavlyuchenkova’s career (29 years old) is gaining brilliance on the verge of reaching her 30s. Promising when it broke into the elite, it has celebrated 12 titles of medium and low profile, and has never managed to climb beyond the 13th position of the ranking. These days, however, she has been leaving important rivals such as Aryna Sabalenka or Victoria Azarenka on the way, before dismounting the Slovenian Zidansek on Thursday, who set Paula Badosa’s top in the quarterfinals. Now she aspires to become the fourth Russian winner at Roland Garros, trying to follow in the footsteps of Anastasia Myskina (2004), Svetlana Kuznetsova (2009) and Maria Sharapova (2014).
There is no precedent against Krejcikova, who resolved her match against Sakkari on the fifth match ball, after 3h 18m. The file of the Czech (25 years) is even more discreet, with a single notch, also of a lower category (Strasbourg). However, behind her back she leaves a more meritorious series in this tour of Paris, where to reach the final she has beaten superior opponents such as Elina Svitolina, Sloane Stephens, Coco Gauff or Sakkari herself, who had a match ball and it was on the verge of making history: there is no record of Greek finalists in Paris.
Krejcikova wishes to pick up the baton from Hana Mandlikova, winner in the 1981 edition, and already appears alongside the Czech finalists Renata Tomanova (1976) and Martina Navratilova (1975, when she was still competing under the eastern flag). They have never faced her and Pavlyuchenkova, two names that nobody counted on. Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, Sofia Kenin, Iga Swiatek (defending champion), Garbiñe Muguruza, Petra Kvitova retired … And only they remained.