Johanna Konta's quest for a first grand slam title will have to wait after she was edged out 7-5, 7-6 by Czech Marketa Vondrousova in the semifinals of the French Open.
In blustery, difficult conditions at Roland Garros, the Briton, in her third grand slam semifinal but first at the French Open, had three set points in the opening set and served for both sets but could not close it out.
The 19-year-old Vondrousova, in her first grand slam semifinal, held her nerve to win the tiebreak 7-2 and set up a clash with Australia's Ash Barty, a three-set winner over 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova.
"It was a very tough match today and I'm just happy that I kept my nerve at the end. I'm so happy," Vondrousova said.
The wind made life difficult for both players and the rain had spectators hovering under umbrellas but Konta began well, moving ahead 2-0 with an early break. Vondrousova looked nervous but the Czech held and then broke back in a long game to level at 2-2.
Konta was the aggressor throughout but Vondrousova, whose variety, including feather-light touch on the drop shot, has won her many fans at Roland Garros over the past two weeks, kept asking questions. Still, Konta had her chances, breaking for 4-2 and then staying in front to 5-3. At 5-4, she had three set points but got tight and Vondrousova sensed her chance, winning three straight games to take the set.
The second set was a similar story, with Konta moving ahead but pegged back as she made too many unforced errors, especially on the backhand. Again she had her chance, serving for the set at 5-4, but this time, a double fault cost her the lead. She held from 5-6 to force the tiebreak but Vondrousova stepped up again, taking it 7-2 to reach her first final, clinching victory, fittingly, with a perfect drop shot winner.