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Vondrousova Battles By Pegula Into First Wimbledon Semifinal

Photo credit: Al Bello/Getty

Wimbledon—Bouncing on the baseline, Jessica Pegula had a maiden major semifinal within reach.

Marketa Vondrousova snatched it away and shattered Pegula’s Wimbledon dream with committed closing kick.

Down 1-4 in the decider, Vondrousova streaked through five straight games stunning Pegula 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to reach her first Wimbledon semifinal in a stirring comeback conquest beneath the closed roof of No. 1 Court.

A courageous Vondrousova lashed her lefty forehand with menace pounding 11 of her 24 winners in the final set capping one of the biggest comebacks of her career with tears of joy.

“I was 1-4 down. She had break points for 5-1. You are not, like, in a good mood,” Vondrousova said afterward. “I don’t know, I just turn it around. I just kept believe in myself.

“Yeah, after [I won] the match point, I couldn’t believe it. We were playing amazing match. She is a great player. Yeah, I mean, I think everything just went on and, yeah, I just couldn’t hold the tears.”

The rousing rally left the 2019 Roland Garros runner up in disbelief and the packed Court No. 1 crowd roaring after a frenetic finish. Executing this comeback was thrilling, explaining it was challenging for an ecstatic Vondrousova.

“I just don’t know what happened,” Vondrousova said in her on-court interview. “It’s amazing. I never played here on Court No. 1 before.

“I just fought until the end. It’s amazing. I cannot believe it, actually. It’s crazy.”

You know what’s crazier?

World No. 42 Vondrousova has a legitimate shot to reach the Wimbledon final on Saturday.

That’s because wild card Elina Svitolina continued her inspired run toppling world No. 1 Iga Swiatek 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-2 to set up a semifinal vs. Vondrousova.

If you picked a Svitolina vs. Vondrousva semifinal when the draw came out, you are a true tennis seer.

The pair are friendly and Vondrousova praised new mom Svitolina’s semifinal surge as “amazing” calling the Ukrainian a “super woman.”

“It’s incredible what she did. She received a wild card and she’s in semis,” Vondrousva said. “It’s incredible. I feel like it’s such a short time after a baby. She’s doing amazing things…

“I’m with her all the way. She’s incredible. I think she’s incredible with everything. She’s fighting so much for everything. Now she’s just playing amazing tennis also. She’s a super woman, I think.”

Former world No. 3 Svitolina has won three of five meetings with Vondrousova, but the Olympic silver medalist has won their last two encounters, including a 6-3, 6-1 sweep in the 2021 Olympic semifinals.

This Wimbledon marks the first time at a Grand Slam since the 2013 Roland Garros all four top-seeded women reached the quarterfinals.

This afternoon both the top-seeded Swiatek and fourth-seeded Pegula were sent packing by opponents who showed no trace of fear at closing time.

Consider Vondrousova arrived at SW19 with only four main-draw grass-court victories to her credit and even after knocking off four seeds—No. 12-seeded Veronika Kudermetova, 20th-seeded Donna Vekic, No. 32-seeded Marie Bouzkova and Pegula—she remains the only woman still standing who has a losing lawn record.

The tattooed Vondrousova used her variation and some crackling drives down the stretch to join Petra Kvitova, the late, great Jana Novotna, Karolina Pliskova, Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova as the sixth Czech woman to reach the final four at Wimbledon.

It’s a gut-wrenching loss for Pegula, who carried an 0-5 Grand Slam semifinal record onto court and put herself in position for a major semifinal breakthrough only to suffer a gut-wrenching loss.

Shaking off a first set that saw Vondrousova win six of the last eight games to build a one-set lead, Pegula stormed to a 4-1 second-set lead. Targeting Vondrousova’s extreme western grip forehand with low, fast drives, Pegula elicited some framed forehands and applied her net skills to take the second set and go up in the third.

After her fourth-round win, Pegula said her goal was to “crash the big three party.”

Carving out a drop volley and crashing a drive into the corner, Pegula broke for a 3-1 lead in the final set to seize momentum before an energetic Court No. 1 crowd that included Hall of Famer Stan Smith as well as U.S. Billie Jean King Cup captain Kathy Rinaldi.

Then the threat of rain—and a shower—prompted suspension of play to close the retractable roof.

During the break, Vondrousova didn’t consult with her coach—she called her husband, who encouraged her to keep fighting and reminded her she was embroiled in a tremendous match.

“[He said:] it was a good match, playing great,” Vondrousova said of her husband’s positive reinforcement. “He just said, Try to fight. You are playing good.

“You are playing great match. Yeah, that was it. I mean, I think the break helped actually. It was good.”

When play resumed, Pegula held at 15 for a 4-1 lead and earned a break point in the following game.

Had she converted, Pegula would have served for the match.

Vondrousova was far from finished.

Bending low and using her legs to counter Pegula’s flat strikes, Vondrousova held for 2-4 to spark her comeback.

Though Pegula had some success in the second and early third set forcing some framed replies from Vondrousova’s forehand, the Czech stood-toe-to-toe down the stretch firing back everything the fourth seed threw at her.

Vondrousova broke back in the seventh game then held at 15 to level 4-4.

The ninth game was one of the most fiercely fought of the match with neither woman giving up ground.

That 12-point game raged on with pulsating rallies drawing gasps from some in the crowd as both women flirted with the top of the tape. Vondrousova forced a forehand error scoring her second straight break for 5-4.

Serving for her first Wimbledon semifinal, Vondrousova continued clubbing her forehand and finished with a forehand volley winner securing her first Wimbledon semifinal.

Pegula, who has been a model of consistency contesting eight quarterfinals this year, was left to ponder what might have been had she gained that second break in the last set.

Vondrousova will ty to sustain this wonderful Wimbledon run against wild card Svitolina.