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.

Sonego beats Bublik at Moselle Open to win 1st title of 2022

Winston-Salem Open - Day 5
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METZ, France – Lorenzo Sonego clinched his first title of the season by beating Alexander Bublik 7-6 (3), 6-2 in the Moselle Open final.

The 27-year-old Italian did not drop a set all tournament as he won the third title of his career and first on hard courts.

The unseeded Sonego recovered from 0-40 down in the fifth game of the match and secured victory when the seventh-seeded Bublik sent a backhand return long.

He then danced on court as he celebrated a perfect tournament where he also beat defending champion Hubert Hurkacz in the semifinals.

Sonego’s win will move him up 21 places in the ATP rankings and into 44th place.

Samsonova beats Zheng to win 3rd WTA title in 2 months

Toray Pan Pacific Open - Day Seven
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TOKYO – Liudmila Samsonova extended a remarkable summer run by clinching her third title in two months after beating rising Chinese player Zheng Qinwen 7-5, 7-5 at the Toray Pan Pacific Open.

No. 30-ranked Samsonova won in Washington and Cleveland in August and also reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open. The 23-year-old has now won 18 of her last 19 matches and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo.

“It’s amazing. I think I need a little bit of time to realize it, but it’s unbelievable,” Samsonova said. “It was like a nervous match today. I was really prepared physically but I was tired mentally because I was playing singles and doubles every day. I’m very happy with the way I managed the pressure.”

Samsonova added that the exclusion of Russian players from Wimbledon had helped her game though she stopped short of supporting the move.

“Wimbledon for me is the best tournament. I love it. The news really impacted me. I had one month without a tournament so I thought let’s work,” she said, adding: “I don’t agree that politics should be involved in sports because it’s unfair.”

The match between two power hitters with big serves was close throughout but Samsonova was striking the ball cleaner and stronger.

Zheng, who ousted top-seeded Paula Badosa and No. 4-seeded Veronika Kudermetova, was broken in the first set after giving up her first double fault on deuce in the 11th game.

Samsonova, who defeated Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the first round and former world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals, then sent a perfect forehand that landed in the right-hand corner of the court to break the 19-year-old and go 6-5 up. She took the first set with another strong service game that included her third ace.

Zheng was the first to crack in the second set when she handed Samsonova free points with two double-faults in the fifth game. A double-fault by the Russian saw her drop to 0-40 in the next game and the No. 36-ranked Chinese broke back to level at 3-3.

As in the first set, Zheng was broken in the 11th game. A long forehand at deuce gave Samsonova a breakpoint and she converted it with a crosscourt forehand that sent her opponent the wrong way. Samsonova then won her next game to love after three errors by Zheng, clinching the match 7-5, 7-5.

Samsonova has now won all of the finals she has appeared in.

In reaching the final, Zheng became the youngest Chinese finalist at a tour-level event, beating the mark set by Peng Shuai.