The Aegon Classic line-up has been suffered with tons of withdrawals, but it is still decent with eight Top 20 players in the draw. Let’s take a look at it…
*Note: This preview was made before the withdrawal of Angelique Kerber. Changes will be made.*
First quarter: Headlined by (3) Dominika Cibulkova
Dominika Cibulkova is into dangerous territory having not won back-to-back matches since Miami, and she has tons of points to defend during the grass court swing. In case you missed it, she actually won the doubles title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch with Kirsten Flipkens! It was a great choice for Cibulkova to play doubles as she is seemingly low on confidence and needs some match play. Her chances to go deep in the draw have been dealt a heavy blow, as she starts off with former Wimbledon semi finalist Lucie Safarova, who just fell to a Donna Vekic in the Nottingham semis. In the second round she could face big hitter Naomi Osaka or Lauren Davis, and then potentially Daria Gavrilova in the quarterfinals. Cibulkova will have to be at the top of her game if she is to beat these three quality opponents to reach the semifinals. Originally I went for Kristina Mladenovic to make the semifinals, but after the draw shuffle, it seems like an unseeded player has a golden opportunity to make the semifinals. Out of them all, I’ll go for Safarova.
Second quarter: Headlined by (5) Kristina Mladenovic
The No.7 seed here is Petra Kvitova. Petra Kvitova on grass – yes, she is back! Kvitova impressed in her first match since six months in Roland Garros against Julia Boserup, winning in straights in emphatic fashion, before falling to Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The 2-time Wimbledon champion kicks off her grass endeavours against a qualifier. Grass is obviously the Czech’s favourite surface but this just being her second tournament of 2017, not sure if she can make a deep run. I originally went for her to make the semifinals but with the draw reshuffle, a different seed is in this quarter…
Kristina Mladenovic, now in Cibulkova’s spot, had a decent first grass outing in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, reaching the semis, but seemed a little fatigued in her loss to Lesia Tsurenko after her long and controversial clay season. She kicks off her Birmingham campaign against Duan Ying-Ying who hasn’t won a match since Miami – however she is a big hitter whose game certainly fits the grass courts. Looming in the second round is Zhang Shuai or Magda Linette – both are decent on grass and could give Mladenovic some kind of challenge.
Third quarter: Headlined by (4) Johanna Konta
Garbine Muguruza, the No.6 seed in Birmingham, is now at No.15 in the rankings, her lowest since June 2015. Her race to reach her first final since last year’s Roland Garros triumph is a difficult one – starting with a qualifier, she could face grass court stalwart Alison Riske or Nottingham finalist Donna Vekic in the second round. The former Wimbledon finalist actually has been playing decent tennis in the whole year just that she has been plagued by injuries many times this season! I even heard a rumour that she’ll be withdrawing from Birmingham too – hopefully she is healthy and able to do some damage on the grass!
Johanna Konta, as of writing, is in the Nottingham final right now and she seems even more comfortable on the grass than last year. A potential contender for the Wimbledon title, she meets ‘s-Hertogenbosch semi finalist Lesia Tsurenko. 2-time Rosmalen champion CoCo Vandeweghe potentially looms in the second round. Konta’s serve is a huge factor on grass and with that weapon I think she can reach the semifinals.
Fourth quarter: Headlined by (2) Elina Svitolina
Elina Svitolina has had a fantastic year so far – after all the withdrawals the Ukrainian is the No.2 seed here. Elina starts off with home favourite Heather Watson then ‘s-Hertogenbosch finalist Natalia Vikhlyantseva. Potential quarterfinal opponents are Ashleigh Barty or last year’s Birmingham finalist Barbora Strycova. Svitolina’s surface isn’t the grass (she has a 4-10 record on grass) so I’ll expect someone like Vikhlyantseva or Strycova to break through of this section.
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