5 things to know about Czech tennis player Marketa Vondrousova - Osaka's ouster - into gold-medal match

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 27: Marketa Vondrousova of Team Czech Republic plays a backhand during her Women's Singles Third Round match against Naomi Osaka of Team Japan on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Tennis Park on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 27: Marketa Vondrousova of Team Czech Republic plays a backhand during her Women's Singles Third Round match against Naomi Osaka of Team Japan on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Tennis Park on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Vondrousova, a lefty with an all-court game, is a former French Open finalist and has suffered a bad wrist injury. She'll play for gold in Saturday's (31 July) final.

Marketa Vondrousova is a name that tennis players always look out for in a draw.

The Czech left-hander, 22, has an all-court game that has taken her to the French Open final as recently as 2019.

On Tuesday (27 July), she stunned world No.2 Naomi Osaka of Japan at Tokyo 2020, ousting the home hope with a decisive 6-1 6-4 triumph at Ariake Tennis Park.

She's followed that up with two more wins - in the quarter-finals over Paula Badosa, then over No.4 seed Elina Svitolina in the semis. In fact, Vondrousova has lost just one set in five matches played. She's the first Czech woman to ever play for Olympic gold in singles in tennis.

Here's five things to know about the world No.42, who is one match away Olympic gold. She meets Belinda Bencic for the title, the Swiss player who is in both the singles and doubles fina.

Slice and dice: A crafty game

To watch Vondrousova play tennis is a thing of beauty. The left-hander has a unique all-court game, using slices, spins, and angles to draw her opponents into uncomfortable situations. She isn't afraid of the net herself, either.

You can see shades of her childhood idol's game in hers - that would be Roger Federer.

“I had one coach in the city when I was born, and he played this kind of stuff – drop shots and stuff – so I maybe learned it from him,” said Vondrousova at the French Open in 2019. “I just like this game. It's very fun for me, and I'm just enjoying it.”

What else does she like to do on court?

“Play drop shots,” she said. “No, I'm just trying to play aggressive and maybe, like, mix the points, and I just want to serve well and move well. Yeah, I think all of this is my game.”

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 08: Winner, Ashleigh Barty of Australia and runner up Marketa Vondrousova of The Czech Republic pose with their trophies following the ladies singles final during Day fourteen of the 2019 French Open at Roland Garros on June 08, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 08: Winner, Ashleigh Barty of Australia and runner up Marketa Vondrousova of The Czech Republic pose with their trophies following the ladies singles final during Day fourteen of the 2019 French Open at Roland Garros on June 08, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
2019 Getty Images

French Open finalist

It was in Paris in 2019 that Vondrousova, then only 19, made her breakout run: Getting all the way to the final before falling to Ashleigh Barty.

She beat four seeds en route to the final, then ranked just 38th in the world. She would leave the event ranked No.16 in the world.

Wristy business: Injury woes for Vondrousova 

It was after that run at the French Open that she was sidelined by a wrist injury, however, playing just two more tournaments in what was arguably her most in-form time on the WTA Tour.

She underwent surgery after she lost in the first round at Wimbledon, having the surgery in Sept. 2019.

She returned to tour in January of 2020, but struggled to find the same form that took her to the French final. She made a run to the Italian Open semi-finals on red clay, which she calls her best surface.

Though she says her game works well on hard courts, too, the surface used for Tokyo 2020.

Czech it out, representing the Republic

Vondrousova was born in Sokolev and moved to Prague to train at age 15. She picked up the sport at age four, with her father David, and by 10 was a top-level junior. Her mother, Jindriska Anderlova played volleyball in a top Czech league.

Why tennis? It was a choice between that and football, and she liked the individual nature of tennis - the challenge of being on court on her own.

Following her rise up the junior ranks and move to Prague, she made a splash by winning her first WTA title in 2017 in Biel, Switzerland, winning three qualifying matches before going on to not lose a set in the main draw. She was ranked No.233 in the world.

Her grandfather was also a national champion pentathlete.

Continuing a tradition

Czech tennis has gone through a renaissance in the last decade, especially on the women's side. Petra Kvitova is a two-time Wimbledon champion, and won bronze at Rio 2016.

The Czech team has won the Billie Jean King Cup six times in the last 10 years.

While Vondrousova is the lone remaining Czech player in singles, compatriots Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova are still in the doubles.