Teen Vondrousova into French quarters without losing a set
PARIS (AP) — The next in a long line of talented left-handed players from the Czech Republic is making a run at the French Open.
Teenager Marketa Vondrousova reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal by beating 12th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova 6-2, 6-0 Sunday in just 59 minutes.
The 19-year-old Vondrousova has not dropped a set in four matches.
“I’m just happy with my game,” she said. “Yeah, really happy.”
For a spot in the semifinals, Vondrousova will face 31st-seeded Petra Martic, who followed up her win over second-seeded Karolina Pliskova by rallying past Kaia Kanepi 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 to reach her first quarterfinal at a major, too.
The only Grand Slam title winner left on this side of the women’s draw is 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, who eliminated Garbiñe Muguruza 6-4, 6-3 and now will meet 26th-seeded Johanna Konta for a semifinal berth. Konta defeated 23rd-seeded Donna Vekic 6-2, 6-4.
Stephens, the runner-up to Simona Halep at Roland Garros last year, needed five match points to close out Muguruza, whose two major trophies include one at the French Open in 2016.
With 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova and 18-year-old Iga Swiatek playing on Monday, three teenagers made the last 16 in Paris for the first time since 2008.
Vondrousova grew up watching two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, a fellow Czech lefty.
“I remember when she won Wimbledon, so I was looking up to her,” Vondrousova said.
Martina Navratilova, one of the all-time greats, remains the most well-known Czech left-hander. Then there’s Lucie Safarova, the 2015 runner-up at Roland Garros who retired this week.
“It’s just great we have so many players,” Vondrousova said.
So whom did Vondrousova model her game after?
“No one,” she said. “I was just watching Petra when she won Wimbledon, and I love Roger (Federer), but I don’t have (an) idol.”
The only two games that Vondrousova lost came immediately after she took a medical timeout to receive treatment for an apparent cut on a finger of her left hand — her playing hand — while leading 3-0 in the first. It looked like Vondrousova hurt herself when she slipped and fell to the clay in the previous game.
But she quickly resumed dominating, frustrating Sevastova with a series of drop shots.
“I think I played my best tennis today,” Vondrousova said.
Vondrousova improved to 25-5 since exiting the Australian Open in the second round — a stretch that includes finals in Budapest and Istanbul.
With the temperature nearing 85 Fahrenheit (30 Celsius) degrees, both players put towels containing ice packs around their necks during the changeovers.
On such a hot day, Martic had to really sweat for her first victory in five matches in the fourth round at majors — having first reaching the last 16 at Roland Garros seven years ago.
“I waited for this moment so, so long I don’t even want to know how long,” the Croatian said.
With both players trading moon balls late in the tense third set, Martic ran down a drop shot and responded with a forehand winner up the line to break for a 5-4 lead, then converted her first match point in the next game.
“It didn’t look good at times,” Martic said. “But thank God I stayed there and it paid off.”
Against Vondrousova, Martic will have to find a solution for the Czech player’s left-handed drop shots.
“It’s going to be a fun one,” Martic said. “She’s also got a few tricks in her game.”
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AndrewDampf