Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova made her way into a first Grand Slam final at the age of 19. She defeated a faltering Johanna Konta in Friday’s semifinal match, 7-5 7-6.
A lot was made about which player would handle their nerves in a rare environment and the unique stage. Vondrousova was relying on the form she produced to get to this stage, while Konta had the luxury of semifinal experiences at the Australian Open and at Wimbledon. However, the Brit faltered continuously from a winning position when it counted.
The Czech stayed true to her baseline game. She used nice short angles to drag Konta out of a comfortable baseline rhythm, forced Konta to come into the forecourt on her own terms, and once again was able to extend the rallies in defense and successfully provide width in the rally to stop when the Brit was taking control of the center of the baseline, where Konta is at her most dangerous.
The Brit had actually used her additional power well in the early stages, but she really fell apart when serving for the set at 5-3. She held three set points, one being an agonizing forehand drive volley missing its mark. She missed a big chance to take the set lead when she had the match in her hands. The Brit once again took the break lead and served for the second set, but crumbled a second time, with the ability to trust her shots on the big points eluding her when it mattered, with big pressure weighing heavily on her shoulders.
Vondrousova Rises to the Occasion
There were moments in the match where the younger player of the two was being battered and bruised in the heavy-striking baseline battle. She was the much more composed of the two, though, and trusted her ability to keep points going with good footwork, and bided her time.
A truly telling statistic really was the Brit’s difference in serving compared to her quarterfinal win against America’s Sloane Stephens. Konta won 86% of first serve points in her quarterfinal match, and came up short with just 54% of those points claimed Friday. The reason that number played such a huge role in the matchup is that it really put additional pressure on her executing off the ground. Konta is one of those players that enjoys thriving off a good service rhythm to then get on top of the point and overwhelm. With the first serve somewhat underperforming, she needed the ground game from the baseline to be even better. It gave Vondrousova confidence that she could stay in the rallies that little bit longer.
Vondrousova now moves into a first Major final, where she will meet the much more experienced Ashleigh Barty. Experience may be valuable on the day, but Vondrousova has shown more than enough belief that she can go into unfamiliar situations and still continue to execute her game-plan under Grand Slam pressure. She’s one win away from a career-changing moment.
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