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Saturday December 4th, 2021 5:09PM

Pavlyuchenkova's back in quarters, but Federer's pulling out

By The Associated Press
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PARIS (AP) — Ten years later, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is back in the quarterfinals of the French Open after beating 2013 semifinalist Victoria Azarenka 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday.

Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, who was doing the courtside interview, congratulated her.

There was disappointment for French Open fans elsewhere, though, with 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer pulling out. He has Wimbledon in mind.

Federer is giving himself a chance to recover after a tough third-round match that lasted about 3 1/2 hours on Saturday night and ended close to 1 a.m.

The tournament announced his withdrawal and the 2009 French Open champion explained in a statement that he is protecting his body after two operations on his right knee.

“After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it’s important that I listen to my body and make sure I don’t push myself too quickly,” he said. “I am thrilled to have gotten 3 matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court.”

The 39-year-old Swiss star was supposed to play against big-hitting Italian Matteo Berrettini on Monday.

Wimbledon begins June 28 and Federer will seek a men's record-extending ninth title there.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is still looking for his first major final, anywhere.

The fifth-seeded Greek advanced to the last eight for the second straight year by beating 12th-seeded Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.

Tsitsipas, who lost in the semifinals to top-ranked Novak Djokovic at last year's tournament, is a favorite among fans for his entertaining approach.

“I love it, the fans love it, I Iove playing with people. Love the attention," he said. "It’s a privilege and a great feeling and sensation for me.”

Tsitsipas next faces No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and has lost six of their seven career matches.

Medvedev has reached two major finals but had never even reached the second round at Roland Garros before.

The big-hitting Medvedev beat No. 22 Cristian Garin of Chile 6-2, 6-1, 7-5.

Garin had a medical timeout before the start of the third set, taking a massage to his neck and then his right shoulder. Medvedev had a brief timeout around his right elbow at 0-2 in that set but that hardly stopped him. He treated the crowd to some spectacular shots on a warm and sunny Court Suzanne-Lenglen, especially in the 11th game of the third set.

“I thought I needed a bit of madness," Medvedev said in French after the match. "I hit two monster forehands at 5-5. It was incredible.”

For Pavlyuchenkova, too, but for different reasons.

“It’s just incredible, even that I’m still playing tennis such a long time after,” she told her friend Bartoli. “It’s a surprise for me. I fought hard and I’m very happy to win.”

The 29-year-old Russian has reached the quarters at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, but has never reached the semifinals at any major.

She might face 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams next.

The seventh-seeded American was playing No. 21 Elena Rybakina in the fourth round later Sunday, with the winner facing Pavlyuchenkova.

The former top-ranked Azarenka saved two break points before clinching the first set on a sunny Court Philippe-Chatrier, where the crowd was subdued.

Less so the broadcast crew from France Television, whose presenter and guests are perched up high above the players. The match umpire asked them, during the second set, to talk more quietly as their enthusiasm got the better of them.

Azarenka got a telling off, too, of sorts: a time violation warning for taking too long to serve in the third game of the deciding set — which, coincidentally, happened just as the wind was picking up.

Tamara Zidansek, meanwhile, became the first Slovenian woman to reach the quarterfinals of a major.

She won 7-6 (4), 6-1 against Romanian Sorana Cirstea after saving a set point in a tight first set between the unseeded players.

The 23-year-old Zidansek dropped to her knees and held her head in her hands after winning on her first match point.

Zidansek's run is even more impressive, considering the former snowboard enthusiast had never beaten a top 10-ranked player before this tournament or been past the first round here.

No. 33 Paula Badosa of Spain joined her in the last eight for the first time at any major, beating No. 20 Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

In later men’s play, No. 6 Alexander Zverev was playing Kei Nishikori.

___

More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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