Vondrousova: “It’s been life-changing”

Beaten finalist Marketa Vondrousova feels career may never be the same after RG adventure.

 - Ian Chadband

Marketa Vondrousova was reduced to tears after her Roland-Garros final defeat but the smile that has illuminated the 2019 tournament was quickly restored as the teenage Czech tipped her visor to the brilliant new champion Ashleigh Barty with the cheery admission: “She was just too good - she gave me a lesson.”

The shy, likeable 19-year-old has won over a whole host of new fans at Roland-Garros this past fortnight as she enjoyed a wholly unexpected run to the final without dropping a set.

Yet despite being outplayed 6-1, 6-3 at the final hurdle, she reckoned the whole wonderful experience of the past fortnight was going to transform her young life.

“If anyone had told me before the tournament that I would have made the final, I would have said they were crazy. I can’t really believe it still, I think it’s going to change my life now,” said the girl whose exploits have thrilled the Czech tennis community and all the residents of her little home town of Sokolov.

“Of course, I'm a little bit sad now, because I lost. But it was a great two weeks. I had my family here, so it's still been amazing for me.

“I think I'm proud of myself at everything, because I'm just 19 and I won six tough matches. It was amazing two weeks for me, and I'm just really proud of myself that I was in the final here.”

The youngster’s preparations before the match had been nothing like anything she had experienced before, following the fuss that greeted her semi-final win over Johanna Konta. “Yeah, I mean, a lot of people text me. I was all over Czech TV. It was kind of strange for me,” she admitted.

Yet all this had nothing to do with her defeat, she accepted. That was all down to an opponent who simply had too many weapons and, at 23, too much know-how for her.

"She gave me a lesson"

“She's playing too good. She's mixing things up. And she has a huge serve,” said Vondrousova of Australia’s new champion.

“So it's all very tough to play against. I didn't really feel good today because she didn't let me play my game, and it was really tough. But I played my first Grand Slam final, so it's a good thing.

“But I think she was just too good today. I think she plays amazing match. I didn't have too many chances. Yeah, I think she just gave me a lesson.”

Barty Vondrousova Roland-Garros 2019©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Vondrousova didn’t even indulge herself as much as usual with her excellent drop shots  and she was adamant that was nothing to do with nerves at playing on Court Philippe-Chatrier for the first time.

“It was windy, so it was a bit different. I think she didn't let me play my game, she was just better at everything. I warm up there at least, and I think I was fine. I didn't really play nervous, but I think she was just too good for me today."

This may not always be the case, though, such is Vondrousova's rapid rise. The world No.38 will soar to No.16 when the new WTA rankings are released on Monday, which will change her tournament expectations.

"It's gonna be strange, because I'm going to be seeded at Grand Slams," she commented. "A lot of things are gonna change now, but I just can't wait to get back home and see what's gonna happen."