Vondrousova Eyes Breakthrough in Roland-Garros Quarter-Finals

Vondrousova Eyes Breakthrough in Roland-Garros Quarter-Finals

This year, Marketa Vondrousova is not attracting much attention at Roland-Garros, an unusual position for a top 10 player, major champion, and former finalist. Despite this, the Czech player seems to relish her current low profile.

After her historic Wimbledon victory last summer as the first unseeded woman to claim the title in the Open era – defeating five seeded players, including Ons Jabeur in the final – Vondrousova has faced difficulties adjusting to her elevated status.

“People are recognizing me more even in the city and everything,” she mentioned last summer during her first tournament post-Wimbledon. “I don’t like being seen this much.”

On Tuesday at Roland-Garros, Vondrousova will face the spotlight as she attempts to dethrone Iga Swiatek, the top seed and reigning champion. Swiatek, the world No.1, holds an 18-match winning streak in Paris and has never lost to Vondrousova.

“She’s obviously very comfortable here, so I’m expecting a tough match,” Vondrousova commented on Sunday. “I have nothing to lose, so I’ll just try to enjoy it and maybe play a good match.”

Their quarter-final encounter will be the first match between reigning Grand Slam champions in Paris since the 2013 final between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. A victory for Vondrousova would be surprising, as she has never won a set against Swiatek in their three previous encounters, including a 6-1, 6-2 loss at Roland-Garros in 2020 when Swiatek won her first major.

“She’s a great role model for all of us,” Vondrousova remarked earlier this spring, humorously noting that facing Swiatek on clay is “very scary.”

However, Vondrousova has matched Swiatek in one achievement this clay season: defeating Aryna Sabalenka, which she did in the Stuttgart quarter-finals.

The 24-year-old from Sokolov is accustomed to delivering surprising performances in Paris. Five years ago, as a 19-year-old unseeded player, she became the youngest woman in a decade to reach a Grand Slam final at Roland-Garros, where she lost to Ash Barty.

Injuries, including two wrist surgeries, sidelined her for significant periods over the next four years but didn’t prevent her from achieving major milestones. Besides her Wimbledon success, she also won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Consistently performing on the biggest stages has gradually helped erase some of Vondrousova’s self-doubt.

“For me, the most important thing is just knowing that I can compete with these players, play close matches, and actually win,” she said after her victory over Sabalenka in Stuttgart. “It’s mostly about knowing, ‘You can do it.’”

No matter the outcome on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Tuesday, Vondrousova is showing that this underrated player is quickly becoming a formidable contender.