BUDAPEST, Hungary - Defending champion and No.1 seed Alison Van Uytvanck has been dealt a fiendish draw at the Hungarian Ladies Open: the Belgian will have to navigate both the experience of Vera Zvonareva and the youthful potential of Olga Danilovic merely to reach the last eight.
Van Uytvanck captured her second career title in Budapest last year - but since then, has won consecutive main draw matches only twice, en route to the fourth round of Wimbledon (via an upset of defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza) and the semifinals of Linz. By contrast, her first-round opponent Vera Zvonareva has already racked up two semifinals in 2019, with the 34-year-old former World No.2 making the last four in Shenzhen and St. Petersburg.
Awaiting the winner of that clash in the second round could be the precocious Moscow River Cup champion Olga Danilovic. The 18-year-old Serb snapped a seven-match losing streak in Fed Cup Group 1 zonal play two weeks ago, and will be hoping to carry that form over in just her fourth WTA main draw.
Danilovic is one of a number of young talents in the Budapest draw that make it one of the year's most intriguing, despite Van Uytvanck being the sole Top 50 representative. 17-year-old Moscow River Cup and Tashkent finalist Anastasia Potapova takes on Great Britain's Heather Watson in the first round with No.6 seed Andrea Petkovic potentially awaiting after that; 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova is the No.8 seed, and could meet 20-year-old Anna Blinkova in the second round should both make their way past qualifiers; and 21-year-old wildcard Anna Bondar, who impressed with her hard-hitting game in a Fed Cup thriller against Johanna Konta two weeks ago, will make her WTA main draw debut against Sorana Cirstea, with the winner projected to face No.4 seed Aleksandra Krunic.
With a steady stream of new faces emerging on to the WTA Tour, it could be easy to overlook the promise of a player such as Ana Konjuh, who made her own WTA debut over five years ago and cracked the Top 20 in 2017. But the Croat, whose career has been blighted by injury, is still only 21 years old herself - and, in fact, still the youngest active player with a Grand Slam quarterfinal on her record (the 2016 US Open). Konjuh was forced to undergo her second elbow surgery in March last year, and played just four tournaments in 2018: after an attempted comeback in the grass swing, the 2015 Nottingham champion decided her elbow needed more time to heal completely.
Having returned to action in St Petersburg qualifying last month, Konjuh - now ranked World No.548 - has compiled a 1-3 record since then, and will play her first WTA-level main draw since Wimbledon as a wildcard here, taking on No.3 seed Pauline Parmentier in the opening round.
Another noteworthy name and potential title threat in the Budapest draw is No.5 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova. The 24-year-old Russian has been on a hot streak under roofs across Europe lately, winning 16 of her past 18 indoor matches while notching up a maiden WTA final in Linz, a second 125K title in Limoges and a maiden Premier quarterfinal in St. Petersburg. A friendly draw finds Alexandrova facing a qualifier off the bat, with either Parmentier or Konjuh projected in the quarterfinals - though names such as junior Wimbledon champion Iga Swiatek and big-serving Georgina Garcia Perez lurk in qualifying and cannot be discounted.
Rounding out the draw is No.2 seed Kirsten Flipkens. The Belgian is also happy indoors - her sole career title came in Québec City in 2012 - but faces a nemesis in the first round in the form of Evgeniya Rodina, to whom she has lost twice in as many meetings.
HUNGARIAN LADIES OPEN 2019 DRAW
 Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) vs. Vera Zvonareva (RUS)
Olga Danilovic (SRB) vs. Qualifier
[WC] Fanny Stollar (HUN) vs. Madison Brengle (USA)
Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) vs.  Johanna Larsson (SWE)
 Pauline Parmentier (FRA) vs. [WC] Ana Konjuh (CRO)
Qualifier vs. Qualifier
Arantxa Rus (NED) vs. Fiona Ferro (FRA)
Qualifier vs.  Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS)
 Andrea Petkovic (GER) vs. Ana Bogdan (ROU)
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) vs. Heather Watson (GBR)
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) vs. [WC] Anna Bondar (HUN)
Tamara Korpatsch (GER) vs.  Aleksandra Krunic (SRB)
 Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) vs. Qualifier
Anna Blinkova (RUS) vs. Qualifier
Mona Barthel (GER) vs. Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU)
Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) vs.  Kirsten Flipkens (BEL)