Two of the WTA’s best players of recent weeks will meet for the third time this year on Friday, with 26th seed Johanna Konta and unseeded Marketa Vondrousova both hoping to reach a first Grand Slam final at the French Open.
Vondrousova and Konta have split their meetings this year, with the Czech edging a tight straight set match back in Indian Wells, and the Brit winning on this surface on Rome in three sets just a few weeks ago. The form that both women have shown over recent weeks suggests this could be another tight match, with Konta having reached two finals on clay in the build-up to Roland Garros and beating 2018 runner-up Sloane Stephens in the last eight, whilst Vondrousova is on her deepest run at a Grand Slam, and is set for a new career high ranking.
Following all the carnage in recent days due to poor weather, this match will take place at 11:00 Paris time on Court Simonne-Mathieu, though there is more concern that rain will strike again. The winner will face either eighth seed Ashleigh Barty or Amanda Anisimova in the final.
Road to the semifinals
In the last eight, Konta completely dismantled Stephens, dropping just five games in a performance reminiscent of those that have seen her reach in fourth in the world rankings. The Brit was not at her best in the first two rounds, with scrappy wins over Antonia Lottner and Lauren Davis, though improved drastically from those two matches, beating Viktoria Kuzmova and 22nd seed Donna Vekic in fine style before her win over the seventh seed in the last eight. In Paris, she has delivered after an encouraging build-up on clay, and will be full of confidence here.
Vondrousova has also looked mightily impressive. The teenager has soared up the rankings in recent months, with a final on clay in Istanbul in recent weeks, and has looked good at Roland Garros. Her toughest match came in the last eight, where she won a tight straight sets encounter against 31st seed Petra Martic; the Croat had beaten Vondrousova in the Istanbul final, adding to the significance of that win for the Czech. Prior to that, she had crushed 12th seed Anastasija Sevastova in the fourth round for the loss of just two games, and prior wins over Yafan Wang, Anastasia Potopova, and 28th seed Carla Suarez Navarro were also impressive, and show that she will be incredibly tough to break down.
There is a strikingly noticeable contrast in the styles of each woman, with Vondrousova the more deft of the two. The Czech has excellent touch, and will likely use the drop shot as a real weapon just as she has done all this tournament, and will also provide a strong defence to Konta’s ball striking. The teenager also has solid groundstrokes, and will be able to hold her own in several rallies, though must be wary of engaging in too many long rallies, and must look to make few mistakes when she is on the front foot in rallies.
It is Konta who is the bigger ball striker of the two, and she will hope to dominate rallies early on. The Brit’s serve is a real weapon, and will be hard to break down when it is on fire, as it has been recently, though Vondrousova will certainly have opportunities if it is not working as it should be. The 26th seed may also need to be slightly more patient than in some of her previous matches, considering her opponent’s strong movement around court, though she had little trouble against another strong mover in Stephens, and will hope to kill points off early once again.
Both Vondrousova and Konta have been in scintillating form in recent weeks and throughout this tournament, and that, combined with their tight matches earlier this year, suggest this could be another close contest. Vondrousova certainly has the capability to win this match, though Konta has much more experience, and her bigger weapons proved to be key when she prevailed when the two met in Rome. It seems that it will be her who makes the final.
Prediction: Johanna Konta in three sets