June 7, 2019
Jo Konta’s big day ended in upset at she missed out on a chance to reach the Roland Garros final.
When she looks back, the popular Brit will see that she virtually beat herself, since both sets she lost were there for the taking.
The painful process of losing big points she should have won started early and continued right into the fatal tie-break.
She tried too hard and lost her composure. All Marketa Kondrousova had to do was defend well and wait for the errors to come.
So the Czech went through 7-5, 7-6 (7-2) when she had looked down and out in both sets.
Konta will take confidence from the tournament as a whole and that makes for an exciting Wimbledon.
But she will rue all those missed opportunities to make the Roland Garros showpiece, where Ashleigh Barty was waiting after beating Amanda Anisimova 6-7, 6-3, 6-3.
To say that the first set was a nerve-jangling experience is something of an understatement.
It was heartbreaking and frustrating to watch Konta’s amazing start count for nothing because of her handling of the big points.
But that is the nature of tennis. It is an intensely psychological game.
And if you don’t stay cold and ruthless when an opponent is there for the taking, you risk paying the price.
Konta squandered three set points at 5-3.
Twice she had Vondrousova completely at her mercy but her crazy execution of a drive volley spoilt the first moment.
Then she hit a drop volley too softly, when almost any shot would have given her the set.
On the third occasion, Konta tried to mix it up but looped one too short and allowed Vondrousova to save once more.
Poor decision-making from the Brit handed Vondrousova parity at 5-5 when we should have been watching the second set for some time.
Then the younger woman took the lead for the first time in the match. Something that simply shouldn’t have happened.
It was such a shame, because by and large Konta’s backhand had been working like a dream.
One round-the-net winner to help create those set points was nothing short of astonishing.
But there were too many rushes of blood to the head, unforced errors, mistaken angles. It was all so unnecessary because she had been in control.
But yet another error of judgement lost Jo the first set as she started to come in, left Vondrousova’s return and it bounced just inside the baseline.
Twenty unforced errors in the first set from Konta proved fatal, despite her seventeen glorious winners.
Marketa must have wondered how on earth she had been allowed to win that opener.
More than anything, she had simply hung in there and watched Konta undo all her own good work.
Once more Konta forced the early break in the second set and consolidated.
Her serving was strong, her movement was still good. If she could just start making the correct decisions consistently, then parity was hers.
But serving for the second set at 5-4, she gave her opponent two break points by rushing the net at the wrong time and then gifting her a volley.
A double fault let the underdog in once more, when for a second time Konta should have claimed a set.
Suddenly it was Konta who was serving to stay in the set – and the match.
She managed to do that but lost the tie-break and therefore her golden chance to win a Slam.
By Mark Ryan