Marketa Vondrousova has looked impressive so far to reach her first grand slam semi-final but can she control her nerves to make more history?
Not many people would have predicted the 19 year-old to make the last four of this year’s Roland Garros but after five impressive wins, she now is two victories away from her first grand slam title.
After beating Yafan Wang in the opening round, Vondrousova has gone from strength-to-strength as she has beaten the likes of Carla Suarez Navarro, Anastasija Sevastova and the in-form Petra Martic to reach the last four.
However it was that match against Martic in her Quarter-Final that we started to see the first sign of nerve as she failed to serve out the win at 5-3 in the second set before winning it 7-5.
Although she may have won the match, a similar mistake in her Semi-Final against the more experienced Johanna Konta cannot be made again as she may not be so lucky.
In her press conference after the match against Martic, the player from the Czech Republic dismissed the fact that experience might be a factor, “In semi-finals I think anything can happen. I think it’s going to be very tough and great match, and I just can’t wait to play.”
There is no doubting that confidence is high with the world number 38 but the fear could be that this new occasion could get to her against an opponent that is in her third grand slam semi-final.
The reward for both players though is new territory as neither Vondrousova or Konta have reached a grand slam final and so the stakes are high.
Their head-to-head is currently at 1-1, with the Brit winning a few weeks ago in Rome and Vondrousova admits she needs to do things differently in order to win, “I played with her twice. I won one time and I lost in Rome, like, three weeks ago,” Vondrousova admitted.
“So, I mean, she has great form and it’s going to be tough match, but we’ll see. But I’ll prepare for it, and I hope I can play great match.”
A game with such variety and unpredictability could trouble Konta as Vondrousova will look to keep her nerve and keep on making history in Paris.
Should Vondrousova win her semi-final and win the title on Saturday, it could be recalled as a similar run to Jelena Ostapenko, a tournament which inspired the Czech, “Yeah, she (Ostapenko) did amazing thing. She was the same age as me,” Vondrousova said.
“I mean, it’s very tough to, like, win those matches and, like, win seven matches in a row. I mean, it’s like a dream now, and I’m just very happy.”
That dream could come true with two more wins but for now the teenager will be taking one point at a time as she looks to control her nerves.
Julia Goerges: My Whole Approach To Grass Is Different Now
Julia Goerges talked about new-found comfort on grass, her recent struggles with a neck injury and her win over Rodina.
After Julia Goerges booked her place in the quarter-finals of the Nature Valley Classic for the second year in a row with a 6-4 6-3 win over Evgeniya Rodina, she spoke about her recently-acquired fondness for grass.
“Since last year a lot has changed,” the German said. “I think my whole approach towards grass is a bit different than in previous years. I definitely like it a bit more. People were always telling me I could be a very good grass court player, but I didn’t see any results, so I didn’t believe it. But last year it changed.”
“Maybe grass is already my favourite surface,” she joked. “It is always a short period of the year and I will just try to make the best out of it. I feel good on grass now and for me it’s just about getting more and more matches in to get my rhythm.”
Goerges made an excellent start to the year when she won the title in Auckland and reached the quarter-final stage in Dubai. But she has struggled with an injury since then.
“Recent months have been tough for me, especially on my body,” the German said. “I’m very happy to be playing another match tomorrow as I think it’s all about getting more matches at the moment.”
She continued, “My body was not really working. I had a really bad neck injury which took away my serve. It’s a big weapon, so if it goes away from my game it’s not easy to get free points or to have the service games I’m aiming for.”
“My body feels good now. I don’t have any pain. There will be days when I feel something but, compared to last month, I feel very good.”
Happy Goerges reflects on Rodina win
Goerges seemed delighted with her performance against Rodina. “I think my serve improved a lot compared to the first match. My movement was better too and I was very aggressive today. That’s how I’ve always been but I made less mistakes today.”
She continued, “I think Rodina is a dangerous grass court player. She re-directs the ball very well and you barely see where she is going to, but I knew if I took a little bit of momentum and pace away from her by being aggressive, then she wouldn’t like that.”
Goerges admitted that it was definitely the kind of match that might have caused her problems on grass in the past. She also said that her results last year on the surface have changed the way she thinks about it.
“(Past successes) give you a different view on it. For me, the mental approach is the biggest difference to playing on other surfaces because there are balls you cannot do anything about. Sometimes it looks really bad, but you just have to accept it and move forward. That’s what I learned last year and that’s what I’m trying to take into this year.”
The German will face Naomi Osaka’s conqueror Yulia Putintseva in the last eight. “It will be a tricky match,” she said. “She’s a tricky opponent. She has a lot of variety in her game and she sees the court well. She tries to make it as tough as possible for me, but I just need to focus on myself, be aggressive and not think too much about my opponent.”
Goerges continued, “I need to wait for the right opportunities to be aggressive and not go crazy on my shots. That’s a big part of it too.”
World No.1 Naomi Osaka Suffers Shock Loss To Putintseva
Naomi Osaka crashed out of the Nature Valley Classic with a shock straight-sets loss to Yulia Putintseva.
Naomi Osaka tumbled meekly out of the Nature Valley Classic with an alarming 6-2 6-3 loss to World No.43 Yulia Putintseva.
The Japanese player, 21, performed brilliantly in Melbourne at the beginning of the year. She beat Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova to win the Australian Open and become World No.1 for the first time.
Since then, it has been a strange season for Osaka. She lost to Kristina Mladenovic in Dubai, she was beaten by Belinda Bencic in Indian Wells and Rome and she was knocked out in the third round of the French Open by Katerina Siniakova.
The Japanese described that loss at Roland Garros as the best thing that could have happened because she had been overthinking the prospect of a calendar slam.
She said a weight had been lifted from her shoulders, but it looks like it is back already. Unfortunately we will to have to wait for insights from the World No.1 herself as she did not give a press conference after her loss in Birmingham.
Osaka makes awful start
Osaka played poorly from the start against Putintseva. She was broken twice in the first four games as the Kazakhstani out-fought her during lengthy battles and established an extraordinary 5-0 lead.
The World No.1 finally got herself on the scoreboard when she held in game six. She then decisively grabbed a break in game seven to raise hopes of a revival. However, Putintseva quickly put a stop to such thinking with a clinical service game to seal the set 6-2.
Osaka made a series of woeful errors at the beginning of the second set and soon found herself 2-0 down. It could have ended quickly from that point, but Putintseva faltered and the Japanese player suddenly reeled off three consecutive games – with the help of a net-cord in game five.
Hope of a comeback quickly disappears for Osaka
That sequence could have sparked a comeback, but Osaka reverted to the poor imitation of herself that had been on court for most of the match by making a few sloppy errors to gift the World No.43 an immediate break back.
One shot during that game summed up the World No.1’s performance. She hit a truly awful dropped shot that landed at the back of the service box and then watched helplessly as Putintseva guided the ball past her for a winner.
After the Kazakhstani held to love, Osaka made three more errors to gift her three break points in game eight. She took the first with an excellent forehand winner.
The Japanese player provided some resistance in game nine. She hit a searing forehand winner and played a great point to make it 30-30. However, she then made another sloppy error to give Putintseva her first match point, and the World No.43 seized it with a sublime drop shot that spun sideways after it bounced.
“It feels great to beat the World No.1,” Putintseva said. “It’s a good feeling when no-one expects you to win because you can play with freedom.”
She continued, “The title I won in Nuremburg gave me a little bit more confidence in my game but I don’t think I’ve started to play much better. I was already playing well in the weeks before (that event).”
Anastasia Sevastova and Sofia Kenin advance to the quarter finals in Mallorca
Number 2 seed and 2017 Mallorca champion Anastasija Sevastova cruised past Ajla Tomljanovic 6-2 6-1 after 62 minutes to secure her spot in the quarter finals at the Mallorca Open.
The Latvian player has improved her record to 15-2 at this tournament, where she reached the final in all her three previous apprearances. She won this title in 2017.
Sevastova hit nine winners to five unforced errors and never faced a break point. She drew the first blood in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead after two consecutive errors by Tomljanovic to take a 3-2 lead. Sevastova earned a double break point in the seventh game for 5-2 and converted it after a dropshot error from Tomljanovic.
Sevastova recovered from 0-30 down to earn a set point on her serve in the eighth game. She sealed the first set 6-2 on her first set point with a slice backhand.
Sevastova got an early break in the first game. Tomljanovic did not convert three game points at 2-0. Sevastova went up a double break and held her serve to win her eighth consecutive game for 4-0.
Tomljanovic fended off a match point, as she was serving to stay in the match at 5-1, but she wasted four game points. Sevastova earned her second match point after a long volley from Toljanovic and converted it to claim the second set 6-1.
“I felt good on the court. It was a short match, but in the beginning I had to be concentrated and return a lot of serves, and just keep fighting, and wait for my chances and take them”, said Sevastova.
Sofia Kenin advanced to the quarter final after Ons Jabeur from Tunisia was forced to withdraw from the match, when the 20-year-old player was leading 6-2 2-0. Kenin set up a quarter final against Elise Mertens, who beat Samantha Stosur 6-3 6-3.
Kenin recently stunned Serena Williams at Roland Garros to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her career.
Kenin won 85% of her first serve points and never faced a break point.
Kenin converted her third break point in the first game of the opening set with her crosscourt forehand winner and consolidated the break with another forehand to open up a 2-0 lead. Kenin got a double break with a return winner on break point to open up a 4-0 lead. Jabeur held her serve to get her first game in the fifth game.
Kenin went down 0-30, while she was serving for the first set. The US player won three consecutive points to earn a set point. The US player sealed the first set 6-2 with a service winner.
Kenin earn an early break in the opening game of the second set after a double fault from Jabeur on break point. The Tunisian player took a medical time out. On her return to the court Jabeur win her first point with a drop-shot. Kenin won four consecutive to hold serve for 2-0, before Jabeur withdrew from the match.
“I felt pretty good on court. It’s unfortunate that Jabeur had to retire. Obviously I was not expecting to win like that. I am overall happy with the win and I stuck to the game plan really good”, said Kenin in the post match interview.
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