Marketa Vondrousova became the first teenager since Caroline Wozniacki at the 2009 US Open to reach a Grand Slam singles final on Friday, topping 26th seed Johanna Konta, 7-5, 7-6 (2), in the semifinals of the French Open.
The 19-year-old is also the first teen to appear in the Roland Garros women’s final in 12 years, when Ana Ivanovic finished runner-up to Justine Henin. Vondrousova has not conceded a set throughout the fortnight and avenged her Rome quarterfinal defeat to Konta. She is aiming to become the first woman from the Czech Republic to capture the French Open crown since Hana Mandlikova in 1981.
“It was a very tough match today. I’m just happy I kept my nerves [calm] at the end,” Vondrousova told Marion Bartoli on-court afterwards. “I’m just so happy with everything here.”
In Saturday’s final, Vondrousova will meet fellow first-time Grand Slam finalist Ashleigh Barty, a 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3 winner over Amanda Anisimova. Barty leads the pair’s head-to-head series 2-0, though the two have never met on clay.
For Konta, she’ll leave Paris wondering about three shots that weren’t executed in the first set. After winning the first 10 points to begin the encounter, Konta pushed a short, open-court forehand long to miss reaching 0-40 on the her opponent’s serve. Vondrousova settled in and held, then broke back after hanging around in a 10-minute game. Conditions were cold and windy throughout the clash.
"I was a bit nervous, of course. I think she played a great few points," Vondrousova said of her start. "I was just trying to stay positive and not thinking of it, and just get better."
Up 5-3, Konta earned two set points and looked primed to close it out when putting the Czech on the defense before over swinging on a wild forehand drive volley; the following point, she once again was in a winning position and came forward only to net a backhand slice approach. A double fault from Vondrousova gave her challenger a third chance, but she quickly erased it with a forehand winner. All set long, Vondrousova continued to direct her shots to Konta’s more volatile stroke, the backhand, and ran off with the final four games to steal the set.
"There were certain things that also had a say in how those balls went. It was incredibly blustery out there," said Konta. "I took the opportunity to come in and take it out of the air, and that's what I would do nine times out of ten, and probably nine times out of ten it probably would go in, as well."
Like in the first set, Vondrousova found herself trailing 3-5 to the Brit. A rock-solid hold put the pressure on Konta to serve it out. A netted open-court backhand by Konta provided Vondrousova a 15-30 window, an error that would prove costly when a double fault at 30-40 leveled the set. Two routine holds brought the set to a tiebreaker. From there, Vondrousova grabbed the first lead and never trailed, completing victory in one hour and 45 minutes with a sublime backhand drop shot winner.