Paris: Czech Republic's Marketa Vondrousova roared into her first Grand Slam final at Roland-Garros on Friday by defeating Britain’s Johanna Konta 7-5, 7-6(2) in a compelling duel on Court Simonne-Mathieu. The Czech, teenager who is making her maiden entry into the Grand Slam final will take on Australia's Ashleigh Barty after the No.8 seed survived American teen sensation Amanda Anisimova in three compelling sets. Defending champion Rafael Nadal powered past Roger Federer in the French Open semi-finals on Friday, to move within one victory of a record-extending 12th Roland Garros title after handing his oldest rival his worst Grand Slam defeat in 11 years.
The 33-year-old produced a masterful performance to get past Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the last four on Court Philippe Chatrier and set up a final clash with either world number one Novak Djokovic or Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem on Sunday.
It will be Nadal's 12th appearance in the championship match, which he has never lost before. "It's incredible to play with Roger here," said Nadal. "Congratulations to him, to be at his level at 37, it's incredible. I say thank you to the Parisian fans, because it's magnificent for me to be in another final. "It's always a pleasure to play with him. It's always a difficult match against him." The third seed now has an stunning 92-2 win-loss record on the Paris clay, having beaten Federer for the sixth time in as many French Open meetings despite difficult, windy conditions. Nadal also leads his overall head-to-head against Federer 24-15, and 14-2 on clay after ending a run of five straights losses to the 37-year-old.
A tally of just nine games meant it was Federer's heaviest defeat in a Grand Slam match since managing only four against Nadal in their famously one-sided 2008 Roland Garros final. Nadal made only 19 unforced errors, crushing 33 winners as Federer struck 25, although that amount could easily have been doubled against any opponent other than the 11-time champion. The defeat leaves Federer still waiting for a first victory over Nadal on clay since 2009 in Madrid. The 19-year-old Czech became the first teenager to make the final here since Ana Ivanovic in 2007 as she came from behind in both sets to prevent Konta becoming the Briton since Sue Barker in 1976 to reach the decider in Paris.
In difficult blustery conditions, the assured left-hander kept her nerve better than her more experienced opponent and, though Konta served for both sets, she came through to seal a well-deserved victory in one hour and 45 minutes. “It was a very tough match today and I’m just happy that I kept my nerve at the end. I’m so happy,” the youngster said on court afterward following glorious drop shot that sealed the win on match point. Ashleigh Barty survived a disastrous first set collapse to win through to her first Grand Slam final at Roland-Garros.
Just 15 minutes into this semi-final, she led 5-0 and held two set points over Amanda Anisimova before the 17-year-old American came roaring back. In a contest of extraordinarily unpredictable ebb-and-flow, Barty then recovered from 3-0 down in the second set to halt Anisimova’s apparently unstoppable momentum. She clinched victory on her sixth match point to win 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3. Barty's win means her ranking will rise to at least No.3 when the new list is released on Monday; if she lifts the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen, she will become the first Australian since Evonne Goolagong Cawley to be as high as No.2.
- FPJ Sports Desk