It seems like every week nowadays we have a fresh-faced teenager bursting onto the tennis scene. This week is no different. Marketa Vondrousova has enjoyed a sublime run in Biel/Bienne and has now won her first WTA final aged just 17.
The Czech teenager progressed to the final in some style. Not only did she have to qualify for the event but she has also had to dismiss an array of WTA talent. Annika Beck, Kristyna Pliskova and Barbora Strycova have all fallen victim to Vondrousova’s crafty left-hand in Switzerland in straight sets.
Estonian youngster Anett Kontaveit was her opponent in the final but was no match for Vondrousova. Showing maturity and composure far beyond her years the 17-year-old held her nerve to win 6-4 7-6(6) in only her second WTA event.
Marketa Vondrousova’s blistering start to 2017
Marketa Vondrousova’s dream run is less surprising when you peruse the form guide. Her 2017 form has been remarkable at ITF level. After missing the second half of 2016 through injury the 17-year-old returned to the circuit in startling fashion.
Twenty consecutive victories was how Vondrousova began her season. Two titles accompanied this run – a 15k in Stuttgart and a 25k in Grenoble – before finally losing to Marie Bouzkova in the final in a 25k in Perth. Before the loss to Bouzkova she dropped just three sets in those matches.
Another final and semi-final followed to move her up to her current ranking of #233 in the world. This was enough to gain her entry to the qualifying draw of the inaugural Ladies Open Biel Bienne.
Qualifying for the event was no walk in the park. Twice Vondrousova had to battle from a set down in her three qualifying matches. That time spent adapting to the conditions proved vital in the main draw though, as the teenager won eight straight sets for the loss of just 26 games including a 7-6 6-2 semi-final victory over top #20 player Barbora Strycova.
17 year old qualifier Marketa Vondrousova reaches FIRST #WTA Final!
— WTA (@WTA) April 15, 2017
Technically a crafty competitor
The 17-year-old has a fun game to watch. Not only is she an accomplished mover across the court and powerful ball-striker but she has a notable deftness to her play. Vondrousova has made no secret that her favourite stroke is the drop-shot.
The slight of hand that Vondrousova possesses is causing all manner of problems for her opponents. Not only do the drop-shots catch players cold but the delicate touch means she is able to find angles that many players can merely dream of.
Defense to offense from Vondrousova!
— WTA (@WTA) April 15, 2017
The way she plays to her strengths is obvious if you look at her junior career. Deftness of touch is a commonality on the doubles circuit and her two junior Grand Slam doubles titles in Melbourne and Paris demonstrate her capabilities on the doubles court.
Those two Grand Slam titles coupled with an unwavering consistency on the junior circuit helped lift her to #1 in the junior rankings by May in 2015, a feat she will no doubt be looking to replicate on the professional circuit.
Heading for the top #100?
Her eight victories in Switzerland this week will lift her over 100 places in the rankings. After her triumph in the final she should be ranked #117 when the new rankings are released, within a whisker of direct entry to the Slams.
Looking forward, the teenager has no points to defend from the end of May. Unless she were to suffer another injury it is unthinkable that the latest talent off of the Czech production line were to not finish the year inside the top #100 at the very least.
Should she crack the top #100 before June she will have become the second 17-year-old to make the jump into double figures in 2017 after Cici Bellis managed it back in January. Chances are she’ll be much higher though with her undeniable talent. This is the first of many WTA finals for Marketa Vondrousova.