Upon entering Roland Garros, Marketa Vondrousova, a 19-year-old Czech player had a WTA title at the Ladies Open Biel already and had scored wins over Annika Beck, Kristyna Pliskova and top 20 player Barbora Strycova.
She brought with her a bag of confidence and a good resume but never dreamed of landing in the French Open finals with Australia's Ashleigh Barty no less. They had met twice before; last year on the grass and the year before on hard courts with Barty taking both.
The Czech's focus wasn't on that but on the present and how she'd play out the slam. The result was an extraordinary experience even though Vondrousova didn't capture the title. She became the first teen of a Roland Garros final, enjoying the excitement and competition.
It was throughout the French Open that she never dropped a set, but when it came to Barty, there came the struggle. "I think she was just too good today. I think she played an amazing match. I didn't have many chances...yeah I think she gave me a lesson today," the teen Czech said laughingly.
Vondrousova had many lessons learnt at her Roland Garros escapades as she told the media at press time about her exciting quarterfinal with Petra Martic. "I remember the match point with Martic because I was really nervous.
I really enjoyed that one," she emphasized. The semifinal with Johanna Konta was a thriller too as the Czech fought hard to stay focused, get pass Konta's down the lines and great strategies to win the opening set 7-5. Vondrousova knew what it took and she came out the winner in most rallies, coming up with vital points to win the match at 7-5, 7-5.
"I just hope I keep my nerves on end," she joked knowing she finally landed into her first grand slam final opposite Ashleigh Barty, the former cricket player. The Australian played superbly but just making it into the final meant a lot to the Czech.
"It's a huge thing for me and I think it's gonna change my life now," Vondrousova said getting serious about what her runner-up role meant to her. She'd get a huge fanfare when she returned to the Czech Republic giving her further encouragement to remain vigilant no matter the results.
Looking back, the start of the season was serious and didn't begin well, losing to Petra Martic in the Australian Open's second round. Things got better at Indian Wells where she defeated Simona Halep, Jelena Ostapenko and Daria Kasatkina to reach the quarterfinals.
The teen experienced her first time winning over a top 5 player (Halep) and felt the energy and focus on playing better and more confident with each tournament. The Italian Open she again won over Halep to get to the Rome quarterfinals.
The Czech feels she has mastered the clay court season despite being a runner-up and hopefully will tackle the grass season better than she did last year as she lost the opening tournament at the Libema Open in S-Hertogenbosch to Aryna Sabalenka.
The Mallorca Open in Spain she bowed to another Australian, Samantha Stosur in straight sets. Wimbledon last year was also a bust as Sascha Vickery came up the winner in the first round. But this is a new season now with major improvements she has accomplished in her tennis career and life in general.
It wasn't much the factor of winning the final as the journey to get there. It was a press conference time that she couldn't suppress her excitement saying "It's amazing, I never imagined this...it's the best week of my life so far. I'm just very happy with everything..."
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