With a 6-3 6-3 victory to terminate Elina Svitolina’s incredible run and advance to her maiden Wimbledon final, Czech Marketa Vondrousova demonstrated that there was no place for sentimental overstatement.
Vondrousova praised the Ukrainian for reaching the final four of a Grand Slam nine months after giving birth to daughter Skai, calling her “incredible,” “amazing,” “a fighter,” and “a super woman” in the lead-up to the first All England Club women’s semi-final featuring two unseeded players.
However, Vondrousova crushed Svitolina’s hopes, and she is now just one victory away from capping off her own incredible return after runner-up finishes at the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon.
I find it hard to believe. I’m overjoyed to have advanced to the final. Elina is a wonderful lady and such a warrior. It was a challenging game. I’m overjoyed, Vondrousova said.
When she competes in Saturday’s final against either Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka or Tunisian sixth seed Ons Jabeur, she will be attempting to become the first unseeded woman to win the Venus Rosewater Dish.
“Last year, I had a six-month break from playing, and you never know if you’ll be at that level again. The 24-year-old tennis player, who had dropped so far off the tennis radar that she was competing at this year’s championships without a clothing sponsor, continued, “I’m just so thankful to be here, to be healthy, and to play tennis again.
Svitolina had established herself as a firm Wimbledon audience favourite as she played courageous tennis to knock out four Grand Slam champions from this year’s competition.
But on Thursday, despite the crowd’s best efforts to encourage the Ukrainian wild card with chants of “We love you Elina,” Svitolina appeared to be burdened by the expectation of bringing “a little bit of happiness” to her war-torn nation and froze on the grandest tennis stage.
A successful forehand passing shot gave Vondrousova the break and a 3-2 lead in the first set. Despite losing her own serve in the following game due to some careless unforced errors, including a double fault, Vondrousova regained the lead the very next game.
From that point on, Vondrousova repeatedly exasperated Svitolina with her swinging left-handed serve to win seven straight games, leaving the Ukrainian yelling, screeching, and squealing in the process.
As Vondrousova had points to go 5-0 up in the second set, it appeared as though the Czech would easily defeat her opponent. However, Svitolina came out strong and broke twice.
The relief for Svitolina, however, was brief as Vondrousova drowned out all the encouragement directed to the Ukrainian to cling on, securing her spot in the championship match when the Ukrainian blocked a service return long on match point.