PARIS – The ball that landed at Barbora Krejcikova’s feet at the point of the match seemed to come down behind the baseline.
The lineman believed it and called the shot long. A TV replay confirmed just as much, and the unsettled Krejcikova was so sure she raised her arms in triumph to celebrate a berth in her first Grand Slam final at the French Open.
President-elect Pierre Bacchi disagreed. He reversed the call and triggered a new round of debate on video playback, briefly delaying Krejcikova’s victory.
Tennis was spared an unfair result five points later when she hit a backhand winner to close out the biggest win of her career. The Czech saved a match point in the middle of the final set and survived No. 1
“I have always wanted to play matches like this,” said Krejcikova.
She must also suffer from slides. Her opponent on Saturday will be 29-year-old Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who also advanced to her first major final by beating unusual Tamara Zidansek, 7-5, 6-3.
It was only the second time in the professional era that there were four first-time Grand Slam female semi-finalists at a major tournament and the first time since the Australian Open in 1978.
Krejcikova, a two-time doubles champion ranked 33rd, is playing singles in the main draw of a major tournament for only the fifth time. The No. 31-seeded Pavlyuchenkova, on the other hand, has played in more majors before reaching a final – 52 – than any other woman.
A top-20 player as a teenager, Pavlyuchenkova, had been 0-6 in major quarterfinals before finally overcoming this obstacle on Tuesday and was more stable than the big swinging Zidansek in their semi-final.
“I wanted it so much that right now I do not feel anything,” Pavlyuchenkova told the audience in French.
Krejcikova’s run to the final is just as unlikely.
“It sounds incredible,” she said. “I can not believe it. It actually happens.”
It seemed particularly unlikely nine games in the third set as Sakkari held a match point. She confessed that she then became less aggressive.
“I got stressed and started thinking I was a point away from being in the finals,” she said. “I think it’s a rookie mistake.”
Krejcikova erased the match point with a swinging volley for a nervous winner, and 40 minutes later they were still playing.
Then came the real drama. When Krejcikova held a match point in the final game, Sakkari hit a hand near the baseline. Bacchi climbed off the chair, looked, called the shot well and ordered the point to be played again.
“He came, and he’s like, ‘It’s inside,’ and I’m like, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no. Why? ” She said with a laugh. “But what can I do? I can not change his decision. It is fine; Let’s go. Let’s try to win the next one. ”
A TV repeat showed that the ball was clearly long, but video review is not used at Roland Garros, where the balls usually leave clear marks in the clay.
Krejcikova kept her cool and celebrated good moments later after converting her fifth match point.
There was not as much drama in the first match of the day, but the quality of the game was as pleasant as the warm, cloudless weather. The 85th-ranked Zidansek, who this week became the first Slovenian woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final, was the better player in much of the first set, moving well and hitting the more aggressive course strokes.
But Pavlyuchenkova won the main points and Zidansek dumped consecutive shaky servings in the net to lose the set.
Pavlyuchenkova’s pitch hit more stitches in the second set as she ran to a 4-1 lead. Her first sign of nerves came when she double-fouled twice, including the break point, to make it 4-3, but she broke back and easily served the win.
“Tennis is such a mental sport,” she said. “That’s what’s really hard about tennis.”
Zidansek could only agree.
“A new situation for me, semifinals of a Grand Slam,” she said. “So yes, I was nervous. But who is not at this time? I was just trying to compose my nerves as best I could. ”
Pavlyuchenkova, who has won 12 tournament titles, will climb back into the Top 20 next week for the first time since January 2018.
“She is in the final,” said Krejcikova. “She has to play well.”
The same could be said about Krejcikova, who has won 11 consecutive matches, including her first WTA singles title last month in Strasbourg. She is the eighth exceptional women’s finalist at the French Open in the professional era and the fourth in the last five years.
A protector of the late Grand Slam champion Jana Novotna, Krejcikova, is seeking to become the first Czech woman to win Roland Garros since Hana Mandlikova in 1981.
She also bids to be the first woman to win both doubles and singles at Roland Garros since Mary Pierce in 2000. She and Katerina Siniakova have advanced to the semifinals on Friday.