Marketa Vondrousova is in the French Open final after rallying past 26th seed Johanna Konta to claim a 7-5, 7-6 (2) victory. The 19-year-old is the youngest Roland Garros finalist since Ana Ivanovic in 2007 and will bid to be the first Czech woman since Hana Mandlikova in 1981 to claim the title in Paris when she faces eighth seed Ashleigh Barty in the championship match on Saturday morning.
Konta was first off the mark as she took advantage of a nervous start by Vondrousova, winning the first 10 points of the match to claim a 2-0 lead. The teenager recovered from 0-30 down to record a hold that settled her and she took her fifth break point as Konta double-faulted to level the set at 2-2. The Brit, using her backhand that has served her well all tournament, broke straightaway and held twice more for a 5-3 edge.
Vondrousova is a player with easy power and a feathery touch, her all-around skills of drop shots, slices and angles make her a unique talent and she saved three set points, the first when Konta wildly missed on a drive volley, the second off of some outstanding defending, forcing the Brit to meekly miss on a drop shot, the third on an unreturnable serve.
Clearly affected by the missed opportunities, the 26th seed hands the break back to Vondrousova, who follows that with a hold to lead for the first time in the match at 6-5. At 30-40, a brilliant lob by the Czech gives her the opening set and places her halfway to her maiden Grand Slam final. Konta would be left to rue her missed chances as the rain started to fall.
Playing on Court Simonne Mathieu after a controversial scheduling decision left both women’s semifinals off of Court Philippe Chatrier, each player held to begin the second set. As in the first set, Konta struck early, breaking Vondrousova to take a 2-1 lead. She maintained her edge as the set progressed to lead 4-3.
Serving, Konta saw her younger opponent pull back a 40-0 game to deuce, but ultimately held on to go ahead 5-3 much as she did in the opening set. A love hold by Vondrousova piled the pressure back on the Brit and facing a 15-40 hole, Konta duly cracked, double-faulting to hand the break back. Each player held easily to set up a second set tiebreaker.
Vondrousova immediately went ahead, winning the first two points of the breaker and two points later, a weak drop shot by Konta was punished to give the Czech a 3-1 edge. The Brit was committing errors at the wrong time and another gave the 19-year old a 4-2 lead. The shot of the match occurred during the next point, a forehand that goes around the net, sailing past Konta, showcasing the enormous talent of Vondrousova.
Winning a fourth consecutive point brought up match point and the teenager ended it in style, feathering over her trademark drop shot for a final winner and a spot in the title match, the tattoo on her left arm of “no rain, no flowers” proving apt on the day. After the win, Vondrousova said “it was a tough match today. I’m happy I kept my nerves at the end and i’m so happy with everything here! It’s the best week of my life so far.” She looks to become the youngest major champion since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004 at the age of 17.