IMAGE: Unseeded Marketa Vondrousova celebrates her semifinal win on Thursday. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters
Czech Marketa Vondrousova showed there was no room for any gushing sentiment as she ended the remarkable run of new mum Elina Svitolina with a 6-3 6-3 victory to reach the Wimbledon final for the first time on Thursday.
In the run-up to of a first All England Club women’s semi-final featuring two unseeded players, Vondrousova said the Ukrainian was “incredible”, “amazing”, “a fighter” and “a super woman” for reaching the last four of a Grand Slam nine months after giving birth to daughter Skai.
But that did not stop Vondrousova ending Svitolina’s dreams and she now stands one win away from completing her own phenomenal comeback story after two wrist surgeries following her runner-up finish at the French Open in 2019.
“I cannot believe it. I am very happy that I made the final. Elina is such a fighter and a great person. It was a tough match. I am very happy,” said Vondrousova.
IMAGE: Marketa Vondrousova celebrates her win over Elina Svitolina. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters
She will be bidding to become the first unseeded woman to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish when she faces either Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka or Tunisian sixth seed Ons Jabeur in Saturday’s final.
“I didn’t play for six months last year and you never know if you can be at that level again. I’m just so grateful to be here and to be healthy and play tennis again,” added the 24-year-old, who had fallen so far off the tennis radar that she has been playing at this year’s championships without a clothing sponsor.
Svitolina had become a firm crowd favourite at Wimbledon after she produced a fearless brand of tennis to send four Grand Slam champions spinning out of this year’s tournament.
But on Thursday, no matter how much the crowd tried to lift the Ukrainian wild card with cries of “We love you Elina”, Svitolina appeared to be weighed down with the expectation of giving her war-ravaged country “a little bit of happiness” and froze on the biggest stage in tennis.
IMAGE: Elina Svitolina’s tremendous run came to a crashing end. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters
A forehand passing shot winner gave Vondrousova the break for a 3-2 lead in the opening set and although she surrendered her own serve in the next game with some sloppy unforced errors, including a double fault, the Czech was back in front again in the very next game.
From them on, Svitolina was left shrieking, screeching and squealing in exasperation over and over again as Vondrousova frustrated the Ukrainian with her swinging left-handed serve to win seven games on the trot.
Just when it seemed that Vondrousova would whitewash her opponent in the second set as the Czech held points to go 5-0 up, Svitolina came out swinging and broke not once but twice.
But that respite for Svitolina was fleeting as Vondrousova blocked out all the cries of support being thrown Svitolina’s way to hold tight and sealed her place in the final when the Ukrainian blocked a service return long on match point.
IMAGE: Ons Jabeur celebrates after entering her second straight Wimbledon final. Photograph: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters
Jabeur rides the punches to beat Sabalenka
Ons Jabeur showed that it is sometimes better to float like a butterfly than sting like a bee as her wily artistry overcame the brutal hitting of Aryna Sabalenka to reach her second Wimbledon final with a 6-7(5) 6-4 6-3 victory on Thursday.
Jabeur, who was beaten in last year’s final, looked destined to suffer more heartbreak on Centre Court when she lost the opening set, but her delicate strokeplay and clever angles eventually subdued the relentless power of Belarusian Sabalenka.
The victory set up a final between the Tunisian sixth seed and unseeded Czech Marketa Vondrousova, the former French Open finalist who ended the hopes of Ukrainian Elina Svitolina earlier on Thursday.
Jabeur, who also finished runner-up at last year’s U.S. Open, lost a tense first set tiebreak and fell 4-2 down in the second, but roared back with two breaks to level the contest.
She then got a decisive break to move 4-2 up in the third set and while the Tunisian passed up four match points, she finally got over the line with an ace.
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