I think today boiled down to the two winning players in their respective matchups having the mental edge on their opponents by the end.
Pavy wasn’t at her best and that doesn’t come as a surprise, nerves were going to be natural for all four of our semi- finalists. It was always going to be how she dealt with them and it was well enough. Tamara Zidansek was pretty much always trailing in this 7/5 6/3 loss and was only really in this when Pavlyuchenkova left the door open. It was nice to see her serve well when it really mattered again and there has been a slow improvement with her mentality over the last few years. I remember seeing her play Rena at Wimbledon in 2016 and though Serena beat her in a tight straight sets, I left Centre Court that day thinking she wasn’t that far off. Over the years you could see the improvement, bit by bit. I said it after the quarters but you feel she has earned this.
I think when it came to the second semi-final you almost felt Maria Sakkari wanted it a bit too much. Barbara Krejcikova seemed almost ice cool when push came to shove at the business end of this. Sakkari had matchpoint first but after that, the momentum seemed to stay with her Czech opponent who was serving first in the decider. Sakkari did save match points of her own but at the time you would expect to see Krejcikova join in with her share of nervous errors she seemed to keep a clear head. The variation coming from the slice, she also worked the points nicely and even finished with a tidy volley now and again to always keep Sakkari thinking. She just wouldn’t go away. To add to the drama Krejcikova thought she had won the match a few points earlier than she did but then the umpire came down and made an overrule, she wasn’t going to be denied though. After the defeat, Sakkari said “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. The 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.” I always think honesty like this benefits a player quicker than if they are in denial.
Who will win the final? I am not actually sure. The head-to-head stands at 0-0 and it is virtually a toss of the coin in the betting markets. Krejcikova holds slight favouritism at around 4/5. It looks bang on as she won Strasbourg coming into Paris and has looked very solid mentally. This could all change Saturday, who knows.
Andy Del Potro (Al Davies).