By Jake Davies

  • Johanna Konta [3] vs Cagla Buyukakcay
  • Naomi Broady vs Danka Kovinic
  • Kyle Edmund vs Ernesto Escobedo [Q]
The Brits get underway in WTA Auckland, Shenzhen and ATP Brisbane.

 

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Johanna Konta [3] vs Cagla Buyukakcay – H2H: First Meeting

British No. 1 Johanna Konta enjoyed her greatest success on a tennis court last season. She finished the year inside the Top 10, won her first WTA title in Stanford, and made her first semi-final at a Grand Slam in the Australian Open. Those stellar results and undeniable improvement from a mental standpoint has led to many taking serious notice of the progress of Konta over the last 18-24 months.

Some feel we could be looking at our first women’s Grand Slam winner since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977, but Konta will be the first to say that she has a long way to go to make such a splash in the months and years to come.

Konta starts her 2017 against another player that has achieved unbelievable success for her country inside the 2016 season – Cagla Buyukakcay. The Turkish No.1 player has thrived under the watching eye of coach Can Uner. She became the first Turkish tennis player to represent Turkey at an Olympic Games and also is the first Turkish woman to win a Grand Slam main draw match, so it has been quite the year for her.

Buyukakcay likes to attack from her backhand wing. It is by far the stronger side as she tends to flatten out her backhand while hitting loopier shots on the forehand side. Konta will find most of her joy going to the forehand of the Turk, but will have to ensure that her unorthodox forehand also holds up under the pressure of her first match of the season.

Despite being a diminutive figure on the court,Buyukakcay also plays with great courage and is a very good competitor who chases down many lost causes. This should be a match that Konta wins, but Buyukakcay will strive to make this Shenzhen encounter as uncomfortable as possible in her bid to get her first win over a Top 10 player.

Prediction: Konta in two sets.

 

Naomi Broady vs Danka Kovinic – H2H: First meeting

Naomi Broady opens up her 2017 account with a match against Montenegrin Danka Kovinic. One could argue it is one of the most important tournaments that Broady will play this season. The Briton made the quarter-final of the ASB Classic last season, so is defending a great amount of points. If she wants to continue to play the big tournaments, against the best players on a regular basis, then she has to start finding more form on the WTA Tour.

Broady has struggled to gain momentum and has not beaten a Top 100 player since beating No.37 Monica Puig in Montreal back in July.

Kovinic is a promising young talent that is currently just outside the World’s Top 70, but has a career high of No.46. Despite her promise and potential she has still yet to get in the winning column in a WTA final having lost to Buyukakcay in the Istanbul Cup final last season.

Kovinic plays her best tennis on a clay court and has enjoyed more of her success on that surface including winning her first Grand Slam match at the French Open. The Montenegrin’s biggest issue is closing matches out and has lost tight matches in the past from winning positions.

Prediction: Kovinic in 3 sets.

 

Kyle Edmund vs Ernesto Escobedo [Q] H2H: Edmund 1-0

Kyle Edmund‘s 2017 season starts in Brisbane and he will face a familiar opponent in the first round – Ernesto Escobedo. The two players met in the US Open last season and we learned a great deal about Escobedo in a short space of time.

The American has some serious wrist action on the forehand and likes to dictate the majority of the points with that particular shot. Some liken the preparation to his forehand like Andy Roddick, but Escobedo has a long road ahead if he is to achieve the same success as the former World No.1 Roddick.

Edmund won their US Open meeting comfortably in straight sets after beating Richard Gasquet in the first round in one of the results of his career thus far.

The Brit should have the edge in this match. He had a very good finish to his 2016 season and I expect that to continue into the Australian swing in 2017.

Prediction: Edmund in two sets.

Broady is scheduled at 2:30am, Edmund and Konta are scheduled at 3am – all times GMT.

 

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