Slovene surprise Tamara Zidansek and Russian veteran Anastasia Pavyluchenkova meet in a French Open semi-final no one likely could have forseen after scoring three-set quarter-final wins on Tuesday.
Zidansek, first from her country to get this far at a major, ambushed Spain’s rising hope Paula Badosa 7-5, 4-6, 8-6.
Pavlyuchenkova, who reached the quarters here in 2011 but lost, came good on her second try with a 6-7(2), 6-2, 9-7 defeat of Kazakh Elena Rubakina.
The two semi-finalists have never met on the WTA.
No. 85 Zidansek, for one, will have to reign in her excitement after reaching a career best.
“It feels overwhelming, it’s hard to take it in this fast. I’m just trying to focus on my game, on myself.”
She said tension ran high in her last-eight victory.
“This was a great opportunity for the both of us, but I guess I managed to keep my composure today a little bit better than her.
“But it was a tough battle to the end.”
Zidansek started her fortnight with a surprise win over Canadian sixth seed Bianca Andreescu in the first round to set the tone for her run through the ranks here.
“Winning the first round was a big breakthrough for me. I got a lot of confidence from it.
“Before the tournament I was feeling really good, I was playing good, especially on clay.
“When did it start to click? I don’t know. I just kept going match by match.
“Every day is a chapter, I’m just gonna keep doing that and hope for the best.”
Pavlyuchenkova is keeping a lid on any emotions.
“I’m trying to take it as just another match that I won, I’m not going to change any routines,” she said.
“Tomorrow I’ve got doubles to play with Elena, so we will warm up together and play normal doubles, and nothing’s going to change for me.
“It’s good for me to keep on moving, working. It’s not good to just stop and rest.”
Pavlyuchenkova, coached by her brother Alexander, said she is a different person on and off court.
“I’m very respectful to people in general. But when I’m on the court, I’m doing my job and I fight, and I want to kill my opponent every time I play.
“That’s the difference. I’ve always played good, it was just my mental (strength) that wasn’t there.
“I’ve been working with a sports psychologist quite recently, and already I feel like it’s starting to pay off.”
She added: “I’m trying to enjoy this moment as much as I can but I’m not giving it so much importance right now.
Main photo:- Tamara Zidansek by Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd