2018 Indian Wells WTA Round 3 Preview: Marketa Vondrousova vs Aryna Sabalenka

With plenty of upsets after four days of action in Indian Wells thus far, it’s no surprise though that there are still many tantalising match-ups with the depth of the tour. My pick of the day is a clash between two young stars, Aryna Sabalenka and Marketa Vondrousova. Continue reading for the match preview…

Indian Wells Round Three

Marketa Vondrousova [No.54] vs Aryna Sabalenka [No.63] 

It’s an all-teenager and unseeded clash as 18-year-old Marketa Vondrousova will take on 19-year-old Aryna Sabalenka for a place in the fourth round of the Premier Mandatory event. It’s been Sabalenka that has been making more headlines more often than Vondrousova, so I was pretty surprised when I saw that Vondrousova is ranked nine places higher than Sabalenka! On hindsight it does make sense as Vondrousova has the much consistent game than Sabalenka. Most of Vondrousova’s points have come from her title run in Biel and her first main draw appearance in Roland Garros last year. Vondrousova mentality is really beyond her years and that has brought her to a steady season thus far, holding a 5-2 win-loss record against players lower ranked than her. Enroute to the third round here, Vondrousova cruised past Madison Brengle and dished out an upset against Johanna Konta, saving four set points in the first set to win in a 7-6(5) 6-4 scoreline.

Maintaining consistency while having such an aggressive gamestyle is a huge feat but the young Belarusian, Sabalenka has done a really good job of producing great results in the last six months or so. Aside from Fed Cup action, her real breakthrough at a WTA tournament was in the small International event in Tashkent, where she reached the semifinals. She made two WTA finals after that, at Tianjin, where she lost to Maria Sharapova, and at the WTA 125K event in Mumbai, where she claimed her first WTA (125K) singles title. Sabalenka has continued to rack up wins this year; eight to be exact, including two in Indian Wells this week, against Vavara Lepchenko and Svetlana Kuznetsova. In theory the conditions here would not suit a player like Sabalenka, but she’s done very well to control her aggression at the right moments this week.

Interesting stat: According to Tennis Abstract, this is the first time Sabalenka is playing against a player younger than her on the WTA tour! In fact, this is the first time Sabalenka is playing against a player younger than 21 years old.

Head to head: The pair are playing against each other on the WTA tour for the first time.

Thoughts: The slow conditions in Indian Wells definitely do not suit Sabalenka but if there’s anyone who can hit through them, it’s her! It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Sabalenka blasts Vondrousova off court but I’m going for the Czech to win this one. Vondrousova has a smart game; she can mix up the pace very well with drop shots and high balls, and also possesses a huge forehand which is very similar to Petra Kvitova’s. I think Vondrousova will be able to break the rhythm of Sabalenka’s huge groundstrokes and force her into more errors on this slow court. Hoping for a fun three-setter!

Final Prediction: Marketa Vondrousova d. Aryna Sabalenka in three sets

Indian Wells predictions can be found at the top of the page or by clicking the link here! Thank you for reading!

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