The 33rd ranked Barbora Krejcikova has spent much of her Grand Slam tennis life stuck in qualifying, barely making the main draw. The 32nd ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has had a career of upset wins mixed in with early round losses. Now, they are in the French Open final and one will emerge a Grand Slam Champion.
In last night’s semi final, Krejcilova recovered from 3-5 in third set, saving a match point along the way in a brutal 3hr 18 minute win over the plucky Maria Sakkari. Pavlyuchenkova has taken out tournament favorites Azarenka and Sabalenka to make it here. This chance at tennis immorality may never come along again for these two players.
Why Pavlyuchenkova will win
The 29 year old has been in a lot more singles finals than her opponent; it’s a little edge in preparing for the big day, also the court is playing quick, which suits Pav, as she’ll go for more winners. She’s also the fresher of the two, and if she gets the balance of aggression and playing percentages right, she’ll win.
Why Krejcikova will win
Pavlyuchenkova can be streaky. She has a run of games where she’s unstoppable, and then the wheels fall off, with games full of errors. Krejcikova has to strike if this happens, especially near the end of sets, the biggest moments. Krejcikova also doesn’t give much away, she is calm when it matters the most, undoubtedly an ingredient in her success on the doubles court. The more errors from Pav, Krejcikova chances will dramatically rise.
Pavlyuchenkova was the world number one junior at 14 years old, but has never gone beyond the QF’s at a Slam as a Pro, and with only 12 career titles, she’s never quite lived up to the hype. Now is her chance to fulfill such talent. Krejcikova has won two Slams in doubles and only this season has her singles game come together, with her one and only title coming in Strasbourg a few weeks ago. The Czech has carried this form into Paris. These two players have never faced each other, which makes this final only more fascinating.
Krejcikova can junk the ball around a bit more, slice forehands, dropshots, it’s probably due to her doubles prowess, whilst Pav will play the power game. If this match goes long, fatigue could come into it, due to the brutal semi for Krejcikova, who was looking out of petrol near the end and the fact she’s still in the doubles draw.
As with all first time Slam finalists, dealing with the moment is critical, but Pav is experienced enough and Krejcikova has been in three Slam doubles finals, so I doubt this will be a factor.
I’m going with Pavlyuchenkova to win this, especially if the match drags on. The Russian has the power edge and will win her first Grand Slam.