Women's semifinal day at Roland Garros 2021 was one for the history books. For just the second time in the Open Era, a Slam featured four first-time semifinalists. Greece's Maria Sakkari and Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek were looking to make history for their respective countries, to become the first women representing Greece or Slovenia to advance to a Slam final. Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and the Czech Republic's Barbora Krejcikova were looking to break new ground in their long and winding roads to a maiden major final.
It's very exciting to see four first-time semifinalists today. I'm looking forward to wachting it 😊 What's your prediction? @rolandgarros #RollandGarros @NastiaPav @tamara_zidansek @mariasakkari @BKrejcikova— Ana Ivanovic (@AnaIvanovic) June 10, 2021
In the first semifinal, Pavlyuchenkova, a prodigious junior No.1 who ranked inside the Top 20 before she turned 20 in 2010, became the first woman to play more than 50 majors before advancing to a maiden major final, defeating Zidansek 7-5, 6-3.
She is the fourth Russian woman to contest a Roland Garros final and is looking to become the first Russian champion since Maria Sharapova in 2014.
Her friend and Fed Cup teammate was watching:
The second semifinal between Krejcikova and Sakkari brought the dramatics. In the second-longest match of the women's tournament, the Czech saved match point and finally converted on her fifth match point to edge Sakkari 7-5, 4-6, 9-7 to become the first Czech finalist in Paris since Lucie Safarova in 2015. On Saturday, she is bidding to become the first Czech Roland Garros champion since Hana Mandilikova in 1981.
The 3 hour and 18 minute duel drew rapturous praise from current and former players, including Andy Murray, who has been keeping close tabs on the women's tournament all week:
That was some effort by Barbora... big props to her in that last game. That was some mental strength right there.— Darren Cahill (@darren_cahill) June 10, 2021
Krejcikova's post-match interview included an emotional word of thanks to the Czech legends who have paved the way for the 25-year-old, including the late Jana Novotna, who coached Krejcikova before passing away in 2017.
"I really want to thank [Jan Kodes] for coming, for supporting me today," Krejcikova. "He was texting me the whole week. Also, Martina Navratilova was sitting there so thank you so much. I really appreciate it. You're my heroes.
"And also, Jana Novotna from upstairs. She is just really looking after me and I really miss her. I really want to thank her. Because of her I am here. It's really important for me to say this out loud."
Ok tears now….. bringing up Jana! I remember one of the first times i met @BKrejcikova was when Jana asked me to hit with her. Wow Jana would have been really proud of that effort today. She really believed in her and man was she right.— Rennae Stubbs OLY (@rennaestubbs) June 10, 2021
💜 Very well spoken! 😢 So good to take this extra opportunity to mention and thank Jana👏🙏— Kristie Boogert OLY (@KrBoogie) June 10, 2021
Jana, you can be very proud. BK is special in so many ways.— Bruno Soares (@BrunoSoares82) June 10, 2021