By Ros Satar
- Top Seeds: Agnieszka Radwanska, Roberta Vinci, Belinda Bencic, Timea Bacsinszky
- Defending Champion: Belinda Bencic
- Main Draw Brits: Johanna Konta, Heather Watson, Tara Moore, Naomi Broady
EASTBOURNE, UK – Belinda Bencic will need to shake off her injury issues picked up in Birmingham as she attempts to defend her title at the Aegon International.
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Draws & Results
|WTA Eastbourne – Tournament Page|
|Order of Play|
Top Quarter – Agnieszka Radwanska, Svetlana Kuznestsova
It was a less than perfect start for Radwanska – the top seed at Birmingham was on and off the court in some of the worst weather we have seen in this green and pleasant land and she had no answers for the match sharp Coco Vandeweghe, fresh from her victory in s’Hertogenbosch.
That being said, she commented that after a few disappointing rounds at Eastbourne, that early outing might be in her favour for a deeper run here. But what she was missing was quality practice time on court, and she will not have had that much in Birmingham either, despite their massive improvements in their wet weather provision.
Thankfully for Radwanska her Birmingham nemesis pulled out of Eastbourne. Vandeweghe lost to Barbora Strycova in the semi-final and indeed the Birmingham finalist (due to be the American’s first round match-up) also pulled out so Radwanska should coast to the quarter-finals.
Tour veteran and one of the funniest characters on the tour Kuznetsova backs up the rest of the bracket but the danger for her could be Jelena Ostapenko who stunned Petra Kvitova in Birmingham and almost did for the eventual champion Madison Keys.
Grass has not been a bad surface for the Russian, but no means her best – but defending third round points in Eastbourne, she will need to hit some solid form to reach the quarter-finals.
Second Quarter – Timea Bacsinszky, Samantha Stosur
Seriously, what is it about the Swiss and grass, given that, as Bencic says the only grass is for cows!? A quick look at cursory stats puts grass as a pretty decent surface for Bacsinszky, progressing from qualifying at Wimbledon in 2014, to a run to the fourth round of Wimbledon last year.
Bacsinszky makes her debut at Eastbourne and she has not been one for the warm-up tournaments, last appearing ahead of The Championships when Nottingham was a lower tier event.
It has been a while since Stosur had any real joy at Eastbourne, reaching the semi-finals three times, the last being back in 2011. She will face Caroline Wozniacki in her opener, as the Dane comes back after an ankle injury. The rain in Birmingham claimed her as a casualty too so her opening win will give her some confidence.
Brit interest here is Naomi Broady, who put up a valiant fight in her Birmingham opener, and enjoyed a run to the Birmingham doubles semi-final with Heather Watson. Match-time might well be in her favour this time around.
Third Quarter – Carla Suárez Navarro, Belinda Bencic
Despite asserting that the back injury that kept the defending champion out off the clay court season had healed, Bencic had to retire in her opener in Birmingham, and comes out to Eastbourne match shy.
There is no doubt that the big hitting teen has the game that suits this surface, last year stunning hotly fancied favourite Radwanska in the final. She may well come up against Watson as a potential second round opponent, if the Brit comes through her opener against former champion Elena Vesnina.
Suárez Navarro was also caught up in the mammoth play session on Thursday in Birmingham, playing three times in a day, and putting out their defending champion Angelique Kerber in the process. She looked spent about half way through her semi-final against Madison Keys in Birmingham and with a packed draw here but should be good for the quarter-finals.
Bottom Quarter – Petra Kvitova, Roberta Vinci
As is always the case with Kvitova, she roared through her first round against compatriot Lucie Safarova, she struggled against Ostapenko where she surely would have expected a few more rounds at the least.
Also looking for wins is British No. 1 Johanna Konta, who struggled to make an impact in Nottingham where she reached the quarter-final last year, and though she was not defending anything of note in Birmingham, she made the quarter-final here last year, and it was really the kick-start of her great run through the rankings.
Vinci heads up the other end of the bracket, opening her grass court warm-up. For the last couple of years her time on grass has been ingloriously short, but she has shown Eastbourne some love, running through qualification to the semi-final back in 2005.
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The Aegon International takes place between 19-25 June.
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