Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 14 of the 2021 French Open.
What a difference a year makes.
Well okay, it’s more like a matter of a few months rather a full year, because the 2020 French Open was famously delayed and held last fall rather than its typical time during the spring.
So okay, what a difference a matter of seven to eight months makes.
We were reading through our women’s semifinal preview for last year’s Roland-Garros. (You can read it in full here.) We won’t go in full detail what the post explained, but by and large we were discussing how women’s tennis appears to be in great hands. The sport was just about to celebrate its first Grand Slam final between two players, Iga Swiatek and Sofia Kenin, each aged 21 years or younger, we wrote.
What about the 2021 event?
Fast forward to this year’s event and the women’s final this time is between 29-year-old Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and 25-year-old Barbora Krejcikova. They’ve both emerged unscathed from a weird main draw to play in their first Grand Slam final ever. Absolutely without a doubt, this is a good thing and should be hailed as such. Because for a sport to guarantee its future, we need to see a wide variety of players and individuals to excel early and often.
A little something to note before we give you our prediction on the women’s final: last year in our preview, we explained that half of the players in the Top 10 and Top 20 were aged 25 or younger. Despite what most might see as a surprising and lacklustre final match here in Paris, that proportion still holds true today.
Women’s tennis is fine and will continue to be fine.
Day 14 preview
We’ve reached the point of today’s preview where we examine the women’s Roland-Garros final. How might it shake out? Who will win and in how many sets? Find the answer to all these below. (But factor in, you know, that we’ve been unbelievably bad at these predictions this week.)
Court Philippe-Chatrier: Barbora Krejcikova vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova  (First match of the day)
Well who could have seen this women’s final coming? Come on, be honest. At the launch of the 2021 French Open, who had bet the money for their mortgage on a women’s final between the No. 32-ranked and the No. 33-ranked players? No one did, at least no one reading this: because if you had done so, then you would be one rich person right now and why would you be reading this?
??Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Barbora Krejcikova??
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 10, 2021
In any case, we have quite the barnburner of a singles Grand Slam final. For one thing, we have two players who have never reached the stage experiencing it for the first time. We know we’ll be crowing a new major winner and if you think that’s a problem, just look over on the men’s side and what a bright (read: sad) future the sport has just because every generation keeps failing at breaking through the glass ceiling.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has reached a first major final and undoubtedly took the scenic route to get there with three straight three-set wins in the middle portion of the draw. She’s an attacking player who’s tough to beat when she gets her shots to fall in. Doubly so if she can now shake off lucky and unreal shots like what Tamara Zidansek unleashed in their semifinal.
Yep, Zidansek hit the shot of the tournament, at least.pic.twitter.com/xq1O51dm4R
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) June 10, 2021
Barbora Krejcikova, meanwhile, started with a three-set win in the first round and hasn’t stopped surprising all of us since. Since that close call in her first match, the Czech player mostly had a smooth run right up until the semifinal win against Maria Sakkari, a match that went three sets and where she needed all of five match points to finish things off.
Who should we predict as the winner of this unlikely Grand Slam final? It’s tough to say considering that the two players have never played each other. We don’t feel exactly strong about it, but let’s give Pavlyuchenkova the win in three sets.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG