Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova becomes first Russian to reach Grand Slam final since Maria Sharapova


31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has become the first Russian woman since Maria Sharapova to reach a Grand Slam final.

The 29-year-old beat the unseeded Slovenian Tamara Zidanšek in straight sets to set up a final with either Maria Sakkari or Barbora KrejĨíková.

It’s an astonishing achievement by the world number 32, who turned professional back in 2005 and had never reached beyond the quarter-finals of a major tournament before this event.

Consistently ranked in the top 30 in the world throughout the previous decade, Pavlyuchenkova has regularly threatened at Slams without ever fully living up to her potential.

It has been a career of nearly moments. Six major singles quarter-finals including three at the Australian Open and one each at the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. Plus, six more in doubles, across all four premier tournaments once again.

Now, having finally conquered these last eight demons, Pavlyuchenkova has gone a step further today and reached a first Slam final in Paris.

While this was her first appearance at this stage, the Russian’s experience shone through. Zidanšek, who is ranked 85th in the world, looked nervous and double-faulted to hand Pavlyucnhekova the first set.

The second set was similar, with the Slovenian looking to exploit her strong forehand to no avail as the veteran Russian held her composure to win 7-5 6-3.

Speaking afterwards, Pavlyucnhekova said: "I don't know what to think because I'm so tired but so happy. It is so emotional.”

With her 30th birthday looming, and a career that has spanned almost 15 years, the Samara-born star finally followed in the footsteps of the great Sharapova to reach a Slam final.

The tennis icon is one of just 10 women to hold a career Grand Slam and has scooped five major honours in total.

Her last appearance in a final came in 2015 at the Australian Open, where she lost to Serena Williams in straight sets.

Pavlyuchenkova has the chance to join Sharapova and other fellow Russian major winners in history. Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anastasia Myskina are others to be part of this illustrious list. Soon, there could be another name to add to this category.

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