Spain’s Paula Badosa continued her dream run at Roland Garros with a win over Marketa Vondrousova, the 2019 French Open runner-up, and, in the quarter-final, she will meet Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek next, who got past Sorana Cirstea in straight sets on Sunday.
I think that we both went into the match a little bit nervous, which is I guess normal. A big opportunity for the both of us. It took me a couple of games to settle down. It was good that I got that first game on the scoreboard. I started serving better and better towards the end of the first set, which also helped me to save that break point, which was also a set point. From then on it was just in the tiebreak fighting for every point. Tamara Zidansek
It is Badosa’s first Grand Slam quarter-final after beating the Czech, 6-4 3-6 6-2, using her aggressive baseline play to outlast Vondrousova, the 20th seed, on Court Suzanne Lenglen; while Zidansek beat Cirstea, 7-6(4) 6-1, to become the first player representing Slovenia to reach the last eight at a major.
“It means a lot to me that I’m able to get across the message to young people and everyone in Slovenia that we can do it,” Zidansek said. “We’re a small country, we don’t have that many players, but we have good players.”
Badosa, who escaped match point to defeat Ana Bogdan in a third-round thriller, extended her clay court record this season to 17-2 with another impressive three-set win, striking 30 winners to 30 unforced errors compared Vondrousova’s 26 winners and 39 unforced errors.
“I don’t think I envision all these kind of things,” Badosa said about her hot streak. “I wanted to do a good clay court season.
“I was feeling good. I was working hard. I think my game suits quite good on clay. I was wanting it so, so much. I was working hard for it. It’s coming.
“I didn’t expect doing all these results. I was expecting doing it quite good, but not like this.
“When you’re in these rounds, of course how you play, it’s very important. I think it’s a little bit more important how you manage all the nerves in the important moments.”
The players traded breaks in the opening stages and were level at 4-4 when Badosa broke again before holding her nerve to save 2 break points in the final game to seal the opening set.
While Badosa thrived on the longer rallies, Vondrousova looked to finish points quickly, and the Czech claimed the crucial break to go up 4-2 before serving out the second to take the match into a decider.
Vondrousova’s fatigue was in stark contrast to the energy of Badosa, who broke twice to take a 4-1 lead in the final set.
The Spaniard broke a third time in the final game, when Vondrousova’s return on her second match point went long.
“I always thought that tennis is 80% mental,” she said afterwards. “I think when you’re in these rounds, of course the racquet is important, how you play, it’s very important.
“I think it’s a little bit more important how you manage all the nerves in the important moments. I think when you’re here, the mental thing, it’s a little bit the key.”
Badosa won the first set from 1-3 down, coming up with bold winners to save 2 break points en route to serving it out.
At the climax of the contest, she responded well to Vondrousova threatening a last-minute comeback before taking a 5-1 lead and storming through the last 2 games.
Vondrousova’s level fluctuated too much, and the 21-year-old was afflicted by 6 double-faults, 2 of which led to a break at 4-4 in the first setm and another of which came facing her first break point of the decider.
Meanwhile, Zidansek is also having a dream run in Paris, and, for the third year in a row, the Roland Garros quarters features a clash between two players making their debut at this stage of a Grand Slam.
The 23-year old World No 85 delivered a majestic performance to defeat Cirstea, playing with a cool head and superb control in saving 6 out of the 7 break points she faced, including a set point at 5-6 in the first set, all with clutch tennis.
With little between them at the outset, Zidansek moved through a few more gears to edge the crucial tiebreak, a drop-shot pass combination setting up triple set point and an errant forehand from Cirstea sealing the second.
Zidansek pressed home her advantage with some beautiful tennis to dominate the second set, coming up with smartly constructed points that left Cirstea flailing.
The Romanian, who had been seeking her second Grand Slam quarter-final place since 2009, responded with impatient errors, offering up the double break with consecutive double-faults and a forehand sitter ballooned into the tramlines.
Zidansek sealed her victory with an emphatic forehand winner, her 20th of the day.
“I think that we both went into the match a little bit nervous, which is I guess normal,” she said. “A big opportunity for the both of us.
“t took me a couple of games to settle down. It was good that I got that first game on the scoreboard.
“I started serving better and better towards the end of the first set, which also helped me to save that break point, which was also a set point. From then on it was just in the tiebreak fighting for every point.
“Once I managed to get the tiebreak, I started feeling more comfortable out there. I started feeling more comfortable about going after my shots. That showed well in the second set.”