The Czech who won her first title in Biel last year, aged just 17, made up for lost time after a long injury lay-off for an elbow injury in 2016, but on her comeback to the tour, she reeled off 20 straight wins, with one ITF $15k title, one ITF $25k title, two ITF $25k finals before coming through qualifying in Biel to clinch her first title, beating along the way Annika Beck, Kristyna Pliskova and Barbora Strycova.
Another Czech leftie, she flew up the rankings to reach the Top 100 (at the time the youngest player there) and is the kind of player that could give Konta all kinds of issues.
Konta, who spoke ahead of her US spring swing about where she felt her level was had been adept at solving her on court problems during her runaway year in 2016, but that confidence seemed to tail off badly towards the end of last year.
Konta can expect to be made to run abaout a lot. Vondrousova was pretty effective with her drop-shots, and Konta can still be a bit iffy at the net sometimes. The Czech is not shy about using her leftie serve to good effect, and backs that up with being pretty solid in her groundstrokes, but youth can sometimes hinder, as much as it can help with being fearless.
At the Australian Open she took Caroline Garcia to a third set, forcing the Frenchwoman to close it out 8-6 in the decider, and might rue some wasted chances.
Konta, at her best, can not only solve these kinds of problems on the hoof but can call on her experience to get her out of tight spots. It might not be the most pretty tennis, but if it resuilts in a win, we’ll take it.
Vondrousova has impressed early, and the pressure will be on the Brit, but watching her in practice, in good spirits, you have to feel hopeful that her confidence is returning after some tough encounters. We expect a tough battle, with Konta needing to have that serve firing, and to be playing real first strike tennis.
Prediction: Konta in three sets.
Konta and Vondrousova are scheduled on Stadium 4 at 11am (7pm GMT).
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