Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova held her course to beat a wildly erratic Tamara Zidansek to reach the final at Roland Garros, showing all her experience to win 7-5, 6-3 on Thursday.
Slovenian world No.85 Zidansek got off to a good start with her aggressive style that got her an early break, but Pavlyuchenkova soaked up her opponent’s best shots and proved far too strong in the end.
Zidansek, like Pavlyuchenkova, a debutant in the Grand Slam semi-finals, put down 27 winners but struggled to contain mistakes at key points in the match and handed the first set with a double fault.
Pavlyuchenkova, 29, took the 4-1 advantage in the second set, then stifled a Zidansek comeback attempt, taking the win when his opponent pulled a wide backhand.
On Wednesday, a fiery Novak Djokovic fended off a moving retaliation from Italy’s Matteo Berrettini to clinch a 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 victory to set up a tantalizing semi-final showdown with defense champion Rafa Nadal.
The 34-year-old screamed a series of frightening roars after scoring a victory that at one point felt like a formality but only got heavier as Berrettini threw the kitchen sink at the Serbian .
“This match had it all: falls, crowd, break,” he told reporters. “It was a lot of intensity. I just felt energized the whole time and missed a few chances to finish in three.
“It was just great, super stressful to be under constant pressure all the time… the reaction at the end was just me releasing that tension that was building up throughout the game.”