Marketa Vondrousova will hope to find more success on clay in Madrid than she did last week in Stuttgart, where she was obliterated by Simona Halep, 6-1, 6-3, in the second round. But things might not be so easy on Thursday, as the 2019 French Open finalist opens her Madrid campaign against Angelique Kerber.
Kerber showed flashes of great play last week on her least favorite surface, but ultimately lost to Elina Svitolina in straight sets. The German will need to bring her best, as Vondrousova is steadily improving her play after missing more than six months at the end of the 2019 season, followed by a wild and whacky pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Her unique variety and lefty game are well-suited to clay.
Look for Kerber to be the aggressor in this match, and go behind the Czech to finish points. Vondrousova is a deceptively quick mover and awesome counterpuncher, so the open court may not be all that open on Thursday.
Kerber should practice some sprints on Wednesday, as she’ll be running forward often. Voundrousova does a phenomenal job of mixing in drop shots, typically when stepping forward to hit her backhand.
Drop shots are far more effective on clay, made even more dangerous with the Czech’s improvisational skills.
According to the oddsmakers, Vondrousova is a -230 favorite, which seems a bit aggressive. Kerber as a +180 underdog is fantastic value, but it’s difficult to pick against Vondrousova on her favorite surface, against Kerber on her least favorite surface.
The Pick: Marketa Vondrousova