After going 0-6 in Slam QFs, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova finally wins 1

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PARIS — Don’t get Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova wrong: Of course she’s happy to finally make it to her first Grand Slam semifinal at age 29 after going 0-6 in major singles quarterfinals – and 0-5 in doubles quarterfinals – until now.

Just understand that she is not satisfied with how far she has made it so far at the French Open.

“Still matches to go through,” she said. “Still work to be done.”

The 31st-seeded Pavlyuchenkova will make her debut in the final four of a Slam in her 52nd appearance at one after edging her doubles partner, Elena Rybakina, 6-7 (2), 6-2, 9-7.

The whole thing took more than 2 1/2 hours, and Pavlyuchenkova needed to recover from a fall early in the second set that left her back caked with clay and then overcome being a break down in the third.

“Unreal match,” said Pavlyuchenkova, who credits coaching help from her brother and working with a sports psychologist with helping her on-court progress of late.

On Thursday, she will face another first-time major semifinalist: 85th-ranked Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia.

Zidansek also needed the tennis equivalent of overtime to get through the quarterfinals Tuesday – the French Open is the only Grand Slam event that doesn’t use final-set tiebreakers in singles – eliminating No. 33 seed Paula Badosa 7-5, 4-6, 8-6.

“It feels overwhelming,” said Zidansek, a junior national champion as a snowboarder.

She called her first-round victory over 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu “a big breakthrough for me; I got a lot of confidence from that.”

Rybakina, who was seeded 21st, had eliminated 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the fourth round.

But Rybakina’s steadiness in that match was not as present against Pavlyuchenkova, with whom she is scheduled to team up in the doubles quarterfinals Wednesday.

There were a record half-dozen first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalists in the women’s bracket, including Zidansek, Barbosa, Rybakina and a trio on Wednesday’s schedule: 17-year-old American Coco Gauff, Barbora Krejcikova and Maria Sakkari. Gauff plays Krejcikova, and Sakkari faces 2020 champion Iga Swiatek.

FANS FOR DJOKOVIC

The easing of coronavirus-related restrictions means fans will be able to attend the French Open’s final night session of this year’s tournament on Wednesday, featuring a men’s quarterfinal between Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini.

It also means more folks can be in the stands at Court Philippe Chatrier.

The changes include shifting a curfew – one that forces spectators to leave Roland Garros – from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. And tournament organizers also moved the start of the night session up an hour to 8 p.m.; the last match of each day’s scheduled had been beginning at 9 p.m.

Another difference Wednesday: Up to 5,000 fans will be allowed inside the main stadium for the final five days of the tournament.

Previously, only 1,000 spectators were permitted inside Chatrier this year.

A new electronic health pass system will be used to monitor fans as of Wednesday, too.

ANDREESCU, COACH SPLIT

A week after a narrow first-round French Open loss, Bianca Andreescu split with the coach who helped her win the 2019 U.S. Open championship.

The No. 7-ranked Andreescu posted on social media Tuesday that she and Sylvain Bruneau “have mutually decided to end our incredible coaching relationship.”

They worked together for four years.

Andreescu described him as a “coach, mentor and friend” and also wrote: “Sylvain was more than a coach… he is family.”

At Roland Garros, Andreescu lost 9-7 in the third set in the opening round against Tamara Zidansek, a Slovenian ranked 85th who won Tuesday to reach the semifinals in Paris.

In 2019, Bruneau was there when a 19-year-old Andreescu beat Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final to give Canada its first Grand Slam singles trophy and become the first woman in the professional era to win the title in New York in her main-draw debut.

That was only Andreescu’s fourth appearance in any Grand Slam tournament.

She has dealt with various injuries since and only appeared in two majors – losing in the second round of the Australian Open in February before the narrow loss in Paris.

Unseeded Parks beats top-seeded Garcia for her 1st title

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LYON, France — Unseeded American Alycia Parks secured a stunning 7-6 (7), 7-5 upset win over WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in the Open Metropole de Lyon final to clinch her first career title.

“I think France has a special part in my heart right now,” Parks said. “I’ll be back next year.”

The 22-year-old Parks, who is ranked 79th, had 15 aces and saved all four break points against the top-seeded Garcia.

Parks secured the only break of a tight contest to win the match.

The fifth-ranked Garcia, a U.S. Open semifinalist last year, was seeking a 12th career title.

“Congrats on a great tournament,” Garcia told Parks in English. “If you keep playing like this for sure you’re going to keep going up (the rankings).”

Parks has a career-best ranking of 75th.

The 29-year-old Garcia, who grew up in Lyon, took time to thank her home crowd – this time in French.

“It means a lot to play here, thanks for being here,” Garcia said. “You supported me from the first point to the last. Thanks for all your encouragement.”

Zhu beats Tsurenko to win Thailand Open

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Zhu Lin of China won her maiden career title after beating Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Thailand Open.

In a match lasting one hour and 45 minutes, both players exchanged nail-biting baseline rallies before Zhu finally found a way past her determined opponent.

The 29-year-old Chinese player managed a break to go up 5-3 in the first set. Although she was broken to love in the following game, Zhu returned the favor straight back, also to love, to take the opening set in 46 minutes.

The second saw players trade breaks with Zhu eventually securing her first match point at 5-3. She sprayed a shot wide to miss the chance but capitalized on her third in the 10th game with a backhand winner.

“I’m so happy to finally win my first tour title. All the hard work finally paid off,” said the No. 54-ranked Zhu, who will crack the top 50 when the new WTA rankings are updated.

Zhu has started the season strongly, reaching the quarter-finals in Auckland and the last 16 at the Australian Open.

The victory also allowed Zhu to avenge her loss to the Ukrainian at the WTA Dubai Championships back in 2019.

Despite the loss, the No. 136-ranked Tsurenko, 33, will return to the top 100.