By Martyn Herman
PARIS (Reuters) – Johanna Konta said her 7-5 7-6(2) defeat by Czech Marketa Vondrousova had not felt like a French Open semi-final after it was played 24 hours late and on a half-empty small showcourt.
Wednesday’s deluge in Paris left organisers with a big scheduling headache and led them to squeezing in all four singles semi-finals on Friday when more rain was forecast.
With the men’s semi-finals occupying Court Philippe Chatrier, as is usual on the second Friday of the tournament, the delayed women’s semis were switched with Konta and Vondrousova put on the new 5,000-capacity Court Simonne Mathieu.
In a bid to allow both women’s finalists to have the same recovery time for Saturday’s title decider, Ashleigh Barty and Amanda Anisimova played at the same time on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
WTA Tour chief Steve Simon said the scheduling was “unfair and inappropriate” and while Konta did not use it as an excuse, she was clearly miffed at playing such a big Grand Slam match away from the main showcourt.
Asked if it felt like her two previous Grand Slam semi-finals, played on Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena and Wimbledon’s Centre Court, the British player said: “In terms of the surrounding and the occasion, probably not.
“Obviously I’m aware in what match I’m playing and what round. But, yeah, in terms of where we were, probably not.
“To be honest, I think the way it looks probably speaks for itself more than anything.”
Konta said she had not been consulted about the switch to Simonne-Mathieu court.
“If the organisers do not feel that (women’s semi-finals) are something that can be promoted and celebrated, then I think it’s the organisers you need to have a conversation with, not me, because I did my job and I did my job well.”
It was a frustrating day for Konta as she was bidding to become the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam final since 1977.
She had Vondrousova 3-5 15-40 down in the first set but on her first set point, she charged in and blazed an easy volley long with the court at her mercy.
She also blew a 5-3 lead in the second set.
Asked about the swing volley she missed and which proved to be a decisive moment in the match, she said: “That’s what I would do nine times out of ten, and probably nine times out of ten it probably would go in,” she said.
“I definitely don’t regret anything I did out there.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)