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Konta vs Vondrousova tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Konta become the first British woman to reach the French Open final since 1976?

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 6 Jun 2019
  • Johanna Konta faces Marketa Vondrousova in the semifinals of the French Open
  • Konta vs Vondrousova is live from Roland Garros on Friday at 11am local/10am BST
Johanna Konta (PA Sports)

Opportunity knocks at the French Open, which is now guaranteed to crown a first-time women’s champion – will it be Johanna Konta or Marketa Vondrousova who seizes their chance to reach the Roland Garros final?

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Johanna Konta or Marketa Vondrousova – who will make their first Grand Slam final at the French Open?

Both women delivered brilliant performances in the quarterfinals to reach the Roland Garros semifinals for the first time.

For Konta, it’s less uncharted territory in that she has been a major semifinalist twice before – at the Australian Open in 2016, when she lost 5-7, 2-6 to Angelique Kerber, and at Wimbledon in 2017 when she lost 4-6, 2-6 to Venus Williams. 

Konta in action (PA Sports)
But this kind of success at the French Open – on clay in general at WTA Tour level – is unprecedented for the British player. Konta has been insisting during the clay season that her underwhelming record on clay wasn’t because she didn’t know how to play on the surface (and obviously that has turned out to be true) but there’s no getting away from the fact that before 2019 she was 15-22 on clay at WTA Tour level; in 2019 alone she’s 15-3 after reaching the finals in Rabat and Rome. Before 2019 she was 0-4 at Roland Garros; in 2019 she’s 5-0.

Jelena Ostapenko famously won the French Open in 2017 despite never having won a match at Roland Garros before; could Konta follow in her footsteps in 2019? That prospect would have seemed unthinkable at the beginning of the tournament and outlandish even as Konta made it to the quarterfinals with a straight-sets win over Donna Vekic. But after the way Konta played to beat Sloane Stephens, it suddenly seems very real. 

Konta had beaten Stephens twice before, including in Rome a few weeks ago – but that was a three-set fight, and match-ups can be overturned (as we saw when Vondrousova faced Petra Martic), particularly by a player like Stephens who raises her game when it comes to majors. But it wasn’t the seventh seed and 2018 finalist who elevated her level for this one. It was Konta. After saving break point in a lengthy opening service game, and seeing Stephens hold for 1-1, Konta simply ignited, reeling off five games in a flurry of winners and big serves to take the first 6-1. Stephens had the advantage in many areas of the game, but she wasn’t allowed to really play those areas, because Konta was executing her first-strike tennis so powerfully and perfectly that Stephens was reduced to a spectator.

One game in particular sums up how Konta ripped this match out of Stephens’s hands. The British player was leading 6-1, 3-1 before Stephens really got going, producing her best and most aggressive tennis of the match to hold to love for 2-3. All the signs pointed to Stephens being ready to go on the offensive. But Konta stepped to the line and hit four huge serves to get short returns, then polished them off one by one with forehand drives. It was all Stephens could do to get a racquet on the return; she had no chance of doing so on Konta’s first shot behind the serve. By the time Konta served for the match at 6-1, 5-4, she had won 16 of 16 points played on her serve and would only lose one – a double fault – before she closed out the win in just 72 minutes.

Konta, to me, is a streaky player in the truest sense; she’s never more dangerous than when she’s on a roll, and once she’s strung a couple of big performances together, it’s very difficult to disrupt her momentum. And up against an unseeded, much younger and less experienced opponent, surely she has never had a better chance to make a Grand Slam final – something no British player has done at the French Open since Sue Barker won the title in 1976.

That doesn’t mean that Marketa Vondrousova should be disregarded or underestimated, because the 19-year-old Czech is a superb player, as she showed when she rose to the occasion – elevating her game just as Konta had done against Stephens – to face Martic in the quarterfinals.

Marketa Vondrousova (PA Sports)
Martic had won all four previous matches between them, including the Istanbul final a few weeks ago. But Vondrousova has won an absurd amount of matches in 2019, compiling a 22-6 win-loss record coming into Roland Garros – now 27-6 – and reaching the quarterfinal or better of every tournament she’s played except the Australian Open, where she was ousted in the second round by Martic herself. And the teenager, coached by ex-ATP pro Jan Hernych, came in with a clear plan to take down Martic. She read every drop shot played by the Croatian and consistently chased them down to put the ball into open court, while landing her own drop shots not only with superior accuracy, timing and disguise, but always with a plan for what to do if and when Martic chased them down, following up with a second volley or pin-point lob. She backed herself to hang in long, physical rallies and outlast Martic, but didn’t simply grind; she was reliably the first to attack down the lines.

And instead of shrinking from the occasion, she rose to it. She came back from a break down at 3-5 in the first set to take it to a tie-break – one which she dominated, winning six straight points from 1-1. She raced to a 3-0 lead in the second and when Martic broke back, swiftly regrouped to lead 5-2. And when nerves did kick in, which they did – badly – when Vondrousova was serving for the match at 5-3, she steadied herself to stop Martic running away with the match and went on the attack again, breaking the Croatian to win 7-6(1), 7-5.

I thought it was a brilliant performance from Vondrousova, albeit one which mixed the scrappy with the sublime, and it certainly showcased all the Czech’s variety – she has power, but she also has much more than a big-hitting power-game, with exceptional hand skills and the ability to construct points. 

How will she fare against Konta? Their head-to-head is 1-1, with Vondrousova winning their first encounter at Indian Wells in 2018, but the more pertinent match is the one they played recently in Rome, which saw Konta win 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

I actually think that Vondrousova has all the tools to defeat Konta on an average day. But Konta is not having average days at the moment. If Konta plays as she did against Stephens, will Vondrousova be able to do much about it? Her incredible drop shots, angles and variety won’t be much good if Konta is producing the same first-strike tennis that she did to beat Stephens. Also, nerves are a factor for the Czech as we saw in her match against Martic, and Konta has much more experience in this situation. I don’t know if Konta’s brilliant streak is going to take her all the way to the title. But I think it will see her safely past Vondrousova and into the final – the first British woman to make the final at the French Open since 1976.

Konta vs Vondrousova semifinal tennis is live from Roland Garros on Friday at 11am local/10am BST

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Konta vs Vondrousova tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Konta become the first British woman to reach the French Open final since 1976?

Johanna Konta vs Marketa Vondrousova live streaming, preview and predictions for the French Open semifinal women’s singles tennis match on Friday 7 June: Experience is on Konta’s side as she tries to reprise Rome victory over rising Vondrousova at Roland Garros

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