The Roland Garros quarterfinal on Tuesday between Petra Martic and Marketa Vondrousova couldn’t have ended more fittingly: a drop shot and a lob. The bad news for Martic is that the lob landed out, giving the Czech teenager passage into her maiden major semifinal, 7-6 (1), 7-5.
"I mean, it's not happening every day, right? I'm just really happy with my game," Vondrousova said. "I beat her for my first time in my life, so it's amazing."
Martic came into the high stakes match with a perfect 4-0 record against the Czech teenager, having dropped just one set. This was their third meeting of 2019 with Martic winning at the Australian Open and in the Istanbul final.
At 28 years of age, Martic has a world of experience over the 19-year-old but she’s spent a large chunk of her career on the lower rungs of the tour. Then a back injury in 2016 nearly took the world No. 31 out of the game. She’s been on the cusp of joining the elite level with three fourth-round Grand Slam showings and now a quarterfinal.
Vondrousova is still a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed newcomer to the tour with a creative game and the added benefit of being left handed. She’s very, very fond of drop shots, but Martic is a capable mover, and so they traded slices, drop shots and lobs with ease.
When asked "what is your game?" in press, Vondrousova said: "Play drop shots."
On paper, the Croatian should have handled the world No. 38 on Court Suzanne Lenglen. Martic had the early lead for 5-3, but couldn’t close it out. She had triple set point at 6-5 on Vondrousova’s serve, but the 19-year-old reeled off seven straight points, taking the set with a 7-1 tiebreak.
Shen then raced to a 3-0 lead and held her nerve until 5-2 when she failed to convert her first match point. Both players put on a variety-filled show for the eager crowd, who wanted to see more long rallies, deft angles and net rushes. On her second match point, Vondrousova hit an extremely anxious double fault. On the next point she lost her visor, earning a let. Martic would close the gap, 4-5.
It looked like Martic had a chance to push the match to three sets, as nightfall crept closer and she evened things at 5-5. Pulling herself together, Vondrousova played the cleaner final two games, and put pressure on the Croatian, seemingly having put the match-point fails behind her. Martic saved a third match point with a huge forehand, but on the fourth, her drop-shot-lob combination was too ambitious.
"I was close, and I had 5-2 and match point," Vondrousova said. "But I think she played some amazing points. I was trying to play, like, my game and stay focused on every point. And, yeah, I'm just happy I did it."
Vondrousova faces fellow first-time Roland Garros semifinalist Johanna Konta on Thursday.
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