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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Barbora Krejcikova will be matching off in an unlikely French Open final after posting semifinal victories on Thursday in Paris.

The 31st-seeded Pavlyuchenkova swept Tamara Zidansek 7-5, 6-3 to reach the Roland Garros final, while Krejcikova outlasted No. 17 Maria Sakkari 7-5, 4-6, 9-7 in a marathon match that lasted three hours, 18 minutes.

It will be the first Grand Slam singles final for both players.

The 29-year-old Pavlyuchenkova, in her 52nd attempt, became the first woman to play in more than 50 majors before reaching a final.

The Russian played in her first Grand Slam event at age 15 when she made the Wimbledon field as a wildcard in 2007.

"I had my own long special road," Pavlyuchenkova said in a post-match press conference. "Everybody has different ways. I don't know, I'm just happy I'm in the final. Trying to enjoy.

"I think about (winning a Grand Slam tournament) all the time. Been thinking about it since I was a junior, since I was a little kid, since I started playing tennis. That's what you're playing for. That's what you want. It's been there in my head forever."

Pavlyuchenkova had 19 winners and 22 unforced errors. Zidansek of Slovenia notched 27 winners against 33 unforced errors.

Krejcikova, 25, of the Czech Republic had to defeat Sakkari twice to book her spot in the final.

Krejcikova had match point when Sakkari hit a ball that appeared long. But right as the celebration was about to start, the chair umpire dashed to the court and looked at ball marks in the clay and ruled the ball in.

Subsequent replays showed that the ball was clearly out.

Sakkari followed by winning the next two points to pull into the lead but Krejcikova overcame the adversity and eventually smacked a backhand winner to claim her 11th consecutive match.

"I always dreamed of playing a match like this, even since I was a junior," Krejcikova said afterward. "Even if I had lost, it would still be an honor. I think it is important to fight, in tennis and in life, and we were both playing at the very top of our games."

Krejcikova will next look to become the first Czech Republic woman to win the French Open since Hana Mandlikova in 1981.

Krejcikova hit 31 winners and committed 58 unforced errors. Sakkari of Greece had 27 winners and 53 unforced errors.

Sakkari had match point when holding a 5-3 lead in the third set but Krejcikova won the final three points to win the game.

"I have to be deadly honest: I got stressed, started thinking that I'm a point away from being in the final. I guess it's a rookie mistake," Sakkari said.

"Good thing is that if I give myself a chance again to be in that position, then I know that I don't have to do it again."

Krejcikova, partnering with countrymate Katerina Siniakova, has a doubles semifinal match on Friday. The pair won the 2018 French Open doubles title.

Viking Open Nottingham

Top-seeded Johanna Konta of Great Britain outlasted Kateryna Kozlova of the Ukraine 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 in the third round at Nottingham, England.

Serbia's Nina Stojanovic, seeded 15th, knocked off third-seeded Croatian Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-4. No. 4 Shuai Zhang recorded a 6-4, 6-2 win over Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

Among other matches, seventh-seeded Kristina Mladenovic defeated American Caty McNally 7-6 (6), 1-6, 6-1.

--Field Level Media

This article originally ran on Content Exchange

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