Karolina Muchova advances to French Open semi-final after pummelling Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Karolina Muchova is through to the semi-finals of the French Open for the first time.

Karolina Muchova is through to the semi-finals of the French Open for the first time. Photo: EPA

Karolina Muchova has stopped resurgent former French Open runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in her tracks with a 7-5 6-2 victory to march into the Roland Garros semi-finals for the first time in her career.

In the last four the Czech Republic’s Muchova will play second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, who beat Ukrainian former world No.3 Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-4 in a politically charged quarter-final.

“I don’t know what to say, it’s been an incredible two weeks and I’m glad I’m still in the competition,” Muchova said.

“I will for sure watch the match (between Sabalenka and Svitolina), I’m not sure if I will watch it live but I’m sure it will be another great match in two days.”

Muchova has largely flown under the radar in Paris this year after she stunned eighth-seeded Maria Sakkari in the opening round.

The unseeded 26-year-old began brightly in front of a sparse Court Philippe Chatrier crowd with an early break.

But Pavlyuchenkova, who has fallen to 333 in the world after a knee injury kept her out of action for seven months last year, stayed within touching distance with a tight hold and sprung to life in the next game to draw level at 3-3.

After the pair exchanged breaks again, Muchova pinned her 31-year-old Russian opponent back with some deep groundstrokes to bag the opening set without fuss and made early inroads in the next as Pavlyuchenkova faded under the midday sun.

Muchova appeared more comfortable in the second set and built a commanding 5-1 lead before Pavlyuchenkova showed some signs of resistance.

But there was no comeback on the cards as Muchova closed out the match on serve, celebrating the victory when Pavlyuchenkova fired a shot wide.

Next up for Muchova is Australian Open champion Sabalenka, who extended her winning run at the grand slams to 12 matches with the win over Svitolina.

At the end of the match there were again boos as Svitolina walked straight past Sabalenka as she stood waiting at the net for a handshake she would have known was not going to come.

A mixture of cheers and jeers then accompanied Svitolina as she left the court at the end of a memorable run.

Sabalenka, who had never previously been beyond the third round at Roland Garros, said: “She’s such a tough opponent, moving well.

“Big respect for her. It was a tough match. I’m super happy with the win. It was an amazing atmosphere.”


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