WTA Hobart Preview: Marketa Vondrousova vs Natalia Vikhylantseva

WTA Hobart Preview: Marketa Vondrousova vs Natalia Vikhylantseva

Two of the most talented youngsters in women's tennis face off with a spot in the second round at stake.

John Lupo

First round play at the Hobart International continues as 18-year old Marketa Vondrousova faces off with 20-year old Natalia Vikhlyantseva.

The pair are both hard hitters and will view this match as an opportunity to pick up a solid win in preparation for the year's first major at the Australian Open.


Vondrousova continues to rise 

The Czech was a virtual unkown at the start of last year, but she stunned the tennis world in Biel, coming through qualifying to win the title ranked 233rd as a 17-year old in just her second WTA event.

She picked up her maiden win at a major when she defeated defeated Amandine Hesse. Further titles at the ITF level in Trnava and Prague saw Vondrousova crack the Top 100 for the first time. 

She made her 2018 season debut last week in Auckland, losing 7-6, 6-3 to Petra Martic in what is her first full season on tour. With a strong lefty game, it's only a matter of time before the 18-year old starts winning consistently on tour.


Vikhlyantseva bursts onto the scene

The Russian experienced her best results on fast surfaces, reaching her first WTA final in 's-Hertogenbosch, losing to Anett Kontaveit. She also reached the semifinals in both Premier-level events in Russia at St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Armed with a powerful serve and short, powerful groundstrokes, the 18-year old sports a six foot frame and will only get stronger as she grows into her body.

Match analysis

Vondrousova and Vikhlyantseva are very similar in many ways: both young, playing full-time on the tour for the first time and have very powerful games. The Russian is ranked 64th while the Czech is rated three spots below her rival at 67th.

Both players will look to dictate points with Vondrousova looking to play slightly longer points and using her lefty angles to her advantage. For Vikhlyantseva, she'll want to move her younger opponent around with her forehand and venture to net occasionally, where she has an edge.

In the end, Vondrousova has a slight edge simply because Vikhlyantseva looked tired from playing a lot of tennis for the first time when she lost in the semifinals of Moscow. Although this will be a very close match, the Czech should progress.

Prediction: Vondrousova defeats Vikhlyantseva in two tight sets