We’ve seen surprising French Open finals in the past—Francesca Schiavone vs. Sam Stosur from 2011 comes to mind. But Barty vs. Vondrousova may take the cake. In the 23-year-old Australian, we have a player whose all-court style has always seemed better suited to grass courts, hard courts, indoor courts—any type of court other than clay. In the 19-year-old Czech, we have a player who hasn’t been on the radar long enough for anyone to know what her best surface is.
While few of us expected this match to happen this year, in this tournament, it’s not as if Barty and Vondrousova’s talent has never been recognized; they’ve both been touted as potential future Grand Slam champions.
Barty has one of the game’s smoothest service motions, and she makes every other shot—from touch volleys to power forehands—look almost as easy. Best of all may be her backhand; few players transition between the two-handed drive and the one-handed slice as effortlessly as she does.
One of those who does is Vondrousova. The teenager has the useful ability to hit heavy ground strokes, and then turn around and throw in the lightest, most diabolically accurate of drop shots. We knew that before this tournament began; what we found out in her win over Jo Konta in the semifinals, in which she mounted comebacks in both sets, is how steely Vondrousova can be on the big stage. She hasn’t dropped a set the entire tournament.
While they’re both young, Barty and Vondrousova have played twice, and Barty has won both times, in close straight-setters, on grass and hard courts. Clay could help Vondrousova change that outcome, or at least turn this into a very entertaining match. As surprised as Barty may be to have made it this far, though, she’s probably a little more ready go one step farther. Winner: Barty