Jo Konta misses a glorious chance to reach the French Open final after losing to unseeded Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets in front of a paltry crowd on an outside court
- Johanna Konta failed to book her place in the final of the French Open
- The Brit was defeated by rival Marketa Vondrousova at Roland Garros
- Despite the magnitude of the contest many of the seats were empty
- Heavy wind conditions made play tough and saw the court selection questioned
- Vondrousova meets Ashleigh Barty in the final after she beat Amanda Anisimova
Johanna Konta suffered an agonising French Open semi-final defeat as she went down to a young Czech opponent after failing to secure victory from winning positions in both sets.
The British No 1 will know that she blew this, going down 7-5, 7-6 to 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova, having established positions of dominance. It may take a while to get over, as this was a golden chance to make an unlikely final at Roland Garros.
Konta led 5-3 in the first set and had three set points, two of which were missed through bad errors. She then served for the second at 5-4, only to make more mistakes as the status of favourite appeared to eat away at her.
Johanna Konta’s run at the French Open has been brought to an end by Marketa Vondrousova
Vondrousova put on a resilient display to book her place in the French Open final
Vondrousova overcame the tricky conditions and the threat of Konta to make the last two
Konta continued to fight back but ultimately was overcome by the young Czech
Vondrousova now faces Ash Barty after she beat Amanda Anisimova.
Konta walked out at 11am to cheers from the sizeable British contingent in what was, initially, a crowd of around 1,000 on the Court Simonne Mathieu, tucked away in the botanical gardens neighbouring Roland Garros.
Konta was clearly unhappy at having to play in what was the deadweight atmosphere of the third court at 11 o’clock in the morning, and said: ‘I think more than anything, what is tiring and what is really unfortunate in this more than anything is that women have to sit, female athletes, have to sit in different positions and have to justify their scheduling or their involvement in an event or their salary or their opportunities. And I think to give time to that is even more of a sad situation than what we found ourselves in today in terms of the scheduling.
‘I don’t want to sit here and justify where I’m scheduled. That’s not my job. My job is to come here and entertain people, and I feel I did that. And I feel I gave people who paid tickets every opportunity to enjoy their French Open experience.
‘And if the organisers do not feel that that is something that can be promoted and celebrated, then I think it’s the organizers you need to have a conversation with, not me, because I did my job and I did my job well.
‘No-one asked me before the schedule came out, saying, Are you okay with this? Or anything like that.
‘But from my understanding, the schedule was released without the approval of multiple parties. I think the way it looks probably speaks for itself more than anything. So I don’t really have much else to say on it.’
Nevertheless, Konta got off to the dream start against a very nervous-looking opponent, who contributed two double faults in the first game. Konta won the first 10 points of the match with Vondrousova’s backhand misfiring, but she should have rammed home the early advantage at 0-30 in the third game before mistakes started to creep in and she pressed too hard.
Both players struggled through heavy winds as the spectators shivered in their seats
Fans arrived to support Konta though many seats around the court were left vacant
When you thought Vondrousova was settling in she would make another error, and although she capitalised on a double fault to break back for 2-2 she was then broken again as Konta fired her backhand down the line to great effect.
Konta held for 5-3 and then forced two set points which she should have converted. On the first she sent a drive volley way out of the court while on the second she sliced a backhand into the net. A third was created with the gift of a double fault, but that went begging when she was victim of a bad bounce.
Predictably the disappointment weighed heavily and she was broken back when serving for the set. Worse was to come when she played a poor game at 5-6, the backhand breaking down too often as she overpressed.
The Vondrousova serve, which lacks potency for a left hander, was especially vulnerable in the wind and the British player will know she should have done better with it.
The tie-break was sealed at 7-2 in the second set as Konta tasted the agony of defeat
The British No 1 failed to secure victory from winning positions in both sets
Konta overcame the huge sense of deflation at losing a set she should have won by breaking for 2-1, even though the backhand error count was rising.
Again she clawed her way ahead to reach 5-3, although the Czech then held easily, unlike at the same stage in the first set. But at 5-4 the rot set in again for Konta and a simple backhand error and double fault contributed to her being broken again.
A more convincing game took her to the tiebreak, in which she fell behind 3-1 and then 4-2 after some stout defence from an opponent whose errors had dried up.
Vondrousova played a brilliant forehand down the line to draw further ahead, and was the steadier in the end. Indeed she got better and better as the match went on, barely missing by the conclusion, which saw her take the tiebreak 7-2.
Konta put a brave face on the result, adding: ‘There is nothing for me to be disappointed in or upset about. I mean, I lost a tennis match, but I also won five. I can only take the good things from that. Because even today, I lost the match, but I did the best that I could and I’m proud of that effort. I’m proud of that achievement in itself. So I can only look forward to playing at Wimbledon and the tournaments before that.’
Speaking of her missed volley on set point with the court wide open she said: ‘It was incredibly blustery out there.
‘I took the opportunity to come in and take it out of the air, and that’s what I would do nine times out of ten, and probably nine times out of ten it probably would go in, as well. I definitely don’t regret anything I did out there. ‘
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