French Open final preview: Ashleigh Barty vs Marketa Vondrousova
Vondrousova and Barty will meet for a third time on Saturday, with the French Open title at stake (Getty Images/Julian Finney and Clive Mason)

French Open final preview: Ashleigh Barty vs Marketa Vondrousova

A new Grand Slam champion is guaranteed when Barty, the eighth seed, faces unseeded teenager Vondrousova for the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen on Saturday.

oliver-dickson-jefford
Oliver Dickson Jefford

After two dramatic weeks of action, the women’s singles final at this year’s French Open sees eighth seed Ashleigh Barty take on the unseeded Marketa Vondrousova, with both women in a Grand Slam singles final for the first time, and therefore competing for a first Grand Slam singles title.

The two have met twice before, with Barty twice prevailing in straight sets. However, those meetings came in 2017 and 2018, and were both tight. Furthermore, neither of them were contested on clay, meaning this match is likely to function very differently, whilst Vondrousova has vastly improved over the past few months.

This match will start at 15:00 Paris time and will take place on Court Philippe Chatrier, with the winner claiming the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.

Road to the final

Clay is not the surface that many people would have predicted Barty to breakthrough on, yet the Australian has excelled herself in Paris. Barty started with straightforward wins over Jessica Pegula, Danielle Collins, and Andrea Petkovic to reach the second week, and then overcame her first test of the tournament as she prevailed in three sets over Sofia Kenin. The Australian then impressed in a tight straight sets win over 14th seed Madison Keys, before battling past Amanda Anisimova in a topsy-turvy semifinal to reach this stage. Things have got more tricky for Barty in recent matches, though she has still impressed to reach this stage.

Vondrousova celebrates her semifinal win (Getty Images/Clive Brunskill)
Vondrousova celebrates her semifinal win (Getty Images/Clive Brunskill)

Vondrousova has also found it more difficult in recent matches, but is still yet to drop a set at Roland Garros. The Czech overcame Yafan Wang and Anastasia Popotova in her first two matches, before beating both 28th seed Carla Suarez Navarro and 12th seed Anastasija Sevastova, dropping just two games in the latter win, to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. There, the teenager overcame 31st seed Petra Martic in two very tight sets to reach the last four, where she battled back in both the first and second sets to take out 26th seed Johanna Konta to make the final. Ranked 38th, Vondrousova has progressed through the draw in fine style, and several wins over top players will leave her full of confidence.

Analysis

One thing this final does provide is an interesting meeting of similar styles, with both women incredibly skillful and crafty players, who do not blast their opponents off the court but instead like to take time building rallies before finding a way to kill off the point. Vondrousova has had so much success using her drop shot and her lob throughout the tournament and will certainly look to employ these shots again, though may have more trouble doing so against someone whose style isn’t too dissimilar from her own. Meanwhile, Barty is a strong slicer and volleyer, though will likely face the same conundrum, particularly in terms of the former shot.

Barty will look to employ her slice regularly (Getty Images/Clive Mason)
Barty will look to employ her slice regularly (Getty Images/Clive Mason)

Experience and nerves may also play a factor in this match. Whilst she has undoubtedly played well throughout the past fortnight, Vondrousova was very tight when attempting to close out her last eight match against Martic, and made several double faults early on against Konta in the last four. It will be interesting to see how she handles the occasion, particularly as Barty is the more experienced of the two. The eighth seed has reached five Grand Slam doubles final before, and has also contested some big singles finals, winning the Miami Open earlier this year. However, Barty does come in as the favorite, and that tag has affected many in the past, so she will also need to handle that well.

Assessment

This final may not feature any of the women we may have predicted to reach this stage prior to the tournament, there is undoubtedly a lot to be excited about here. Both Barty and Vondrousova come into this match having played some stellar tennis in Paris, and are supremely talented players capable of delivering a high-quality final.

Both are young, and it seems likely that more Grand Slam finals await in both of their futures, though only one can today. She had a very tricky semifinal, though Barty has looked solid and very composed throughout the two weeks, and it seems that her experience and her quality of tennis may get her over the line here.

Prediction: Ashleigh Barty in three sets

 

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