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Barty vs Vondrousova tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Who will be crowned French Open champion in this surprise final?

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 7 Jun 2019
  • Ashleigh Barty faces Marketa Vondrousova in the French Open final
  • Barty vs Vondrousova is live from Roland Garros on Saturday at 3pm local/2pm BST
Ashleigh Barty (PA Sports)

Ashleigh Barty has come out of her shell and into her own as a top player in 2019, but can she seize her chance to become French Open champion as she faces Marketa Vondrousova in the Roland Garros final?

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Will it be Ashleigh Barty or Marketa Vondrousova who joins the distinguished ranks of major champions at Roland Garros on Saturday?

It’s not the final that anybody predicted, from the point of view of either player. True, Barty’s upwards trajectory has suggested that she was due a Grand Slam breakthrough very soon. The Australian has been trending steadily upwards since returning to professional tennis in 2016: Breaking into the top 20 at the end of 2017; spending 2018 consolidating her position and inching upwards towards the top 15; and her 24-5 2019 season so far, which saw her reach her first major quarterfinal and win her biggest title so far at the Miami Open.

Barty in action (PA Sports)
It’s just that nobody would have anticipated this first major final to come on clay – nor that Barty would actually be the senior player in said final. The Aussie has made a couple of International-level semifinals before this year, and was a Madrid quarterfinalist in the run-up where she played Simona Halep close in two tight sets. But still, it’s not much of a French Open or clay pedigree. 

What we have see with Barty’s run to the final, here, is a player who has finally figured out how to use their game to its best advantage – and who trusts that game to work on all surfaces. Admittedly Barty’s slice backhand is somewhat neutralized on this surface (and it was her biggest weakness in the semifinals against Amanda Anisimova) but she has got so much better at driving through the ball off that wing when she was to – and a heavy serve and big inside-out forehand never go out of style on any surface. Just ask Sam Stosur, in whose footsteps Barty is trying to follow by becoming Australia’s first Grand Slam champion since Stosur won the US Open in 2011.

It’s true that Barty’s steady, smooth, understated progress through the draw turned into a rollercoaster ride in Friday’s semifinals as the Aussie took on Anisimova. In chilly, windy conditions, Barty got off to a perfect start against the 17-year-old American, who seemed to have frozen in the headlights of her first Grand Slam semifinal and won just three points in the first five games, to lead 5-1 – only to then completely panic herself when Anisimova started playing better and lose five games in a row to trail 5-6, leaving the American serving for the set. 

Barty’s first-serve percentage in the first set was low, and when Anisimova started to find her range and swing freely, the Australian was punished for it – and for every slice backhand that dropped short in the windy conditions, letting Anisimova step in and pound away with her huge groundstrokes. Barty did stop the rot to break back and take the set to a tie-break, but she twice squandered a mini-break lead before giving up set point thanks to a backhand slice into the net, which Anisimova converted with a big serve.

Anisimova broke to lead 2-0 in a flurry of winners – but this is where Barty’s newfound confidence and maturity really shone. She stopped slicing her backhand and made better use of her drive off that wing and inside-out forehand to get Anisimova on the run to force errors. She played more intelligently and proactively and from 0-3 down, she reeled off six games to level up the match. In the third set, Anisimova again went up an early break, but Barty pegged her back immediately and controlled the play, frustrating the teenager as she struggled to hit winners on the run. On match point, after Anisimova had saved two with huge winners, it was Barty who took the initiative and landed a daring drop shot winner, perfectly executed, for the win, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3.

‘I'm just proud of myself the way I was able to fight and scrap and hang in there and find a way when I kind of threw away that first set,’ Barty said.

‘I played some really good tennis. I played some pretty awful tennis. At the end of the day, I think I was able to scrap and fight and find a way to keep competing. That's probably the best part that came out of today.’


Barty’s ability to weather adversity – even when that adversity was her own bad play – has earned her a golden chance at a first Grand Slam title, one which nobody would have predicted, but that could be the first of many. In the youngest WTA Tour final in terms of combined ages since Ana Ivanovic (20) defeated Dinara Safina (22) in 2008, 23-year-old Barty is the senior player – and she has an unbeaten 2-0 record against her opponent Marketa Vondrousova.

Marketa Vondrousova (PA Sports)
On the other hand, Vondrousova has been overturning losing head-to-heads with abandon this week. The Czech left-hander was 0-4 against Petra Martic coming into their quarterfinal and won in straight sets; against Johanna Konta in the semifinals, she was 1-1 coming into the match but had lost to Konta in three sets in Rome a few weeks ago, and won in straight sets. In fact, Vondrousova hasn’t dropped a single set at Roland Garros this fortnight, the first player to make the final at the French Open without losing a set since fellow Czech lefty Lucie Safarova in 2015.

There’s a certain poetry to Vondrousova making this run at the same tournament which has seen Safarova officially retire – but they could not be more different players. Safarova was a flat baseline power hitter. Vondrousova is … not. She can hit with plenty of power from the baseline, don’t get me wrong. But she plays a much more interesting, unexpected game than that. She can grind you down in lengthy rallies; she can sting you down the lines; and above all, she can bring you into the net with her favoured weapon, the backhand drop shot, generally played so perfectly that even though you might know it’s coming, your chances of chasing it down are small, and even if you do, she’s ready and waiting with a lob or a cross-court flick to put the ball away.

The quintessential Vondrousova moments this fortnight haven’t involved fist-pumps and jubilant yells, or racquet smashes and tears; they’ve involved the Czech cracking a big grin, somewhere between disbelieving and smug, after she’s played a particularly superb shot, like she’s silently asking her box, ‘Can you believe I did that?’

A bit like Barty, Konta got off to a flying start in the semifinal as Vondrousova made a horrible beginning to be broken and trail 0-2, but the Czech got her act together much quicker than the American and was back on serve two games later. Konta wasn’t able to steamroll through Vondrousova the way she had done to Sloane Stephens in similar conditions, but she did lead 5-3 in the first set and even had set point on Vondrousova’s serve – but the Czech saved it with a sequence of forehands before going on to break Konta as the British player served for the set.

It’s been billed as Konta throwing away the best chance she would ever have to reach a major final, and there was an element of that. She missed an easy volley on set point, it’s true, and made some errors in the next few games – but Vondrousova also played some brilliant stuff, including two incredible defensive lobs to take the first set 7-5. The second set followed the same pattern – Konta up a break throughout, serving for the set, tightening up and being broken – but this time, Konta was able to take it to a tie-break. It didn’t matter; up 4-2 after a Konta error, Vondrousova produced a ridiculously good shot, a running forehand flick down the line. It got that smile. Two points later, she had the match.

The first teenager into the French Open final since Ana Ivanovic in 2007, can Vondrousova actually win the title? She’s 0-2 vs Barty, the Australian winning both in straight sets, but they’ve never played on clay and Vondrousova, as aforementioned, has been overturning head-to-heads. I like Barty’s chances in the same way I liked Konta’s chances against Vondrousova; it’s the Aussie, as it was the Brit, who has the simpler route to victory – a serve, a big forehand, well-executed first-strike tennis. But Barty has to do that a lot better than she did it against Anisimova, especially serving better. I think Vondrousova will take a set; I hope she won’t be paralysed by nerves, out on Court Philippe-Chatrier for the first time. But it feels like Barty’s time to become a Grand Slam champion, even if nobody expected it to happen at the French Open. 


Barty vs Vondrousova women’s final tennis is live from Roland Garros on Saturday at 3pm local/2pm BST


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Barty vs Vondrousova tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Who will be crowned French Open champion in this surprise final?

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