By Ros Satar
- British No. 1 Heather Watson and wildcard Naomi Broady go out in first round
- Johanna Konta is the last Brit standing
British No. 1 Heather Watson had a tough return to the tour from an elbow injury that had plagued her since the French Open, when she was edged out in straight sets to qualifier Aleksandra Krunic 7-5(5) 6-4.
Watson had already had to pull out of the WTA International Aegon Open in Nottingham last week to rest the injury and this was her first outing since losing to Sloane Stephens in the second round of the French Open, but she refused to blame the injury for her loss.
Watson said: “I’m still looking after it, still managing it, but I lost today because I just played really poorly.
“I made way too many unforced errors and was very inconsistent. I just couldn’t relax and find my rhythm. I just didn’t feel comfortable. I’m definitely going to Eastbourne and definitely going to Wimbledon.”
Broady took to the court in an attempt to boost the crowd on a sunny day in Birmingham, and she hung toe-to-toe with the top seed Simona Halep, making her debut in the Midlands. Once Halep made the break she went on to reel off six games in a row, breaking Broady three times before the Brit avoided the dreaded bagel set.
Johanna Konta now remains the only Brit in the main draw. Granted a wildcard, and coming in off the back of some solid wins in Nottingham, she scored another Top 100 scalp when she knocked out Jarmila Gajdosova in the first round in straight sets, but goes up against the eighth seed Karolina Pliskova.
The WTA Rising Star has two wins over the Brit, albeit in 2011 and 2013 and they have had good fights in both of those. The World No. 12 started the year quite well, runner up in Sydney and Dubai before winning her fourth career title in Prague, but her clay court season petered out after that.
Although she enjoyed some success in the ITF Nottingham events earlier on, her most recent forays in Birmingham, Eastbourne and Wimbledon have not seen her advancing much past the first couple of rounds. While on paper she should romp through this, the combination of decent weather and home crowd support could be the contributing factor for a surprise.
Konta and Pliskova are scheduled on Court 1, not before 2pm BST.