Aegon International Eastbourne 2017 WTA Main Draw Preview

The Aegon International Eastbourne draw is the only WTA 64-player draw throughout the whole grass court swing, and indeed it is fully packed as players are trying to get their last minute preparations underway for Wimbledon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see many withdrawals since it is the last week before the Slam, so I’m trying a new draw preview method…

[1] Angelique Kerber (No.1)

Player overview: Angelique Kerber’s grass court season will get underway before Wimbledon as the German took a wildcard into the tournament. Kerber had a horrible clay court swing, losing in her openers in Stuttgart, Rome and the French Open. She will hope to start things anew on the green stuff as she kicks off her grass court campaign against Naomi Broady or Kristyna Pliskova, two hard hitters that could upset Kerber. The other seed in her section is Daria Gavrilova.

Previous performances in Eastbourne: Kerber is 9-3 in Eastbourne, having previously reached the final in 2012 and 2014, losing to Tamira Paszek and Madison Keys respectively.

Image result for kerber eastbourne

[2] Simona Halep (No.2)

Player overview: Simona Halep will be playing her first match in Eastbourne after taking a late wildcard, which is her first tournament since her disappointing loss to Jelena Ostapenko in the French Open final. The No.2 seed here, Halep has posted some decent results on the grass before, reaching the semifinals and quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2014 and 2016 respectively. After a bye, she plays a qualifier or Christina McHale; with Petra Kvitova or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni looming in the third round.

Previous performances in Eastbourne: This is Halep’s first appearance in Eastbourne.

[3] Karolina Pliskova (No.3)

Last year’s finalist Karolina Pliskova is also in her first grass court tournament of the year – the Czech has been much more smarter in her scheduling this season and it has paid off with deep runs in the two Grand Slams. A contender for the Wimbledon title, she plays grass court stalwart Alison Riske or Alize Cornet in the second round. No.15 seed Timea Bacsinszky is in her section too.

Previous performances in Eastbourne: Pliskova has a 7-3 record in Eastbourne, reaching the final last year.

Image result for pliskova 2016  eastbourne

[4] Dominika Cibulkova (No.6)

Dominika Cibulkova’s season isn’t getting any better after disappointing results on the clay. Falling in the second rounds of Madrid, Rome and the French Open, a switch to grass hasn’t helped the Slovak as she fell in her openers in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Birmingham. The defending champion will hope to end her losing streak against Heather Watson or Lesia Tsurenko, with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova a likely third round opponent.

Previous performances in Eastbourne: Cibukova won the title last year, and lost in the third round in 2015.

Image result for cibulkova 2016  eastbourne

[5] Johanna Konta (No.7)

Johanna Konta is another Top 10 player who had bad results on the clay, but on the grass her serve has been back to business and it helped her to reach the Nottingham final. Not the most comfortable on grass, the Brit starts her Eastbourne campaign in search of more matches against Katerina Siniakova or a qualifier, with French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko looming in the round of 16.

Previous performances in Eastbourne: Konta is 8-5 in Eastbourne, having reached the quarterfinals in 2015 and semifinals in 2016.

Image result for konta 2016 eastbourne

[6] Caroline Wozniacki (No.8)

Wimbledon remains as Caroline Wozniacki’s worst Slam, as she has never made it pass the fourth round. In her first grass tournament she has a relatively tough opener in Naomi Osaka (or a qualifier). Last year’s Wimbledon semi-finalist Elena Vesnina is her likely third round opponent.

Previous performances in Eastbourne: Eastbourne is usually Wozniacki’s only grass tournament before Wimbledon, having played the tournament from 2008 onwards (excluding 2011). The Dane has a 18-7 record here, winning the title in 2009 and reaching the semifinals from 2013-2015.

Image result for wozniacki 2016 eastbourne

[7] Svetlana Kuznetsova (No.9)

Another player who has always struggled at Wimbledon is Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian has failed to progress further than the quarters since 2007, and grass has arguably been her worst surface. Kuznetsova’s first match of Eastbourne will be against Ana Konjuh or a qualifier, with doubles partner Kristina Mladenovic waiting in the round of 16.

Previous performances in Eastbourne: Kuznetsova is 12-7 in Eastbourne, claiming the title in 2004(!)

Image result for kuznetsova 2016 eastbourne

Photo taken from mootennis.com

[8] Agnieszka Radwanska (No.10)

Agnieszka Radwanska’s 2017 has started somewhat like her 2015, performing badly in the first half of the season. But will her latter of the year end up like her 2015 too, by reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon and winning the WTA Finals in Singapore? After struggling with a foot injury and illness which caused her to withdraw from ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Birmingham, Radwanska’s first match of the grass swing will be against Julia Goerges or Catherine Bellis.

Image result for radwanska 2016 eastbourne

Previous performances in Eastbourne: Radwanska is 15-9 here, winning the title in 2008 and reaching the final in 2015.

Hot topics heading into the Aegon International Eastbourne

1) Kerber and Halep fighting for No.1 ranking ahead of Wimbledon.
Halep was just three games away from taking the No.1 position before Ostapenko crushed the Romanian’s dreams in the final. But anyway, Simona has another chance to take that position, this time in Eastbourne against Kerber. Here are the scenarios: (taken from WTA website)

> If Kerber loses before the quarterfinals, Halep will be No.1 if she makes the semifinals.

> If Kerber makes the quarterfinals or semifinals, Halep must make the final.

> If Kerber makes the final, Halep must win the title.

Pliskova doesn’t have a chance at the No.1 ranking this week as she is defending final points, but if she makes a deep run here she has a huge chance to snatch the No.1 ranking at Wimbledon where Kerber and Halep are defending final and quarterfinal points respectively.

2) Jelena Ostapenko’s first tournament since Roland Garros triumph.

We will get our first look at the French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, having shocked Samantha Stosur, Wozniacki, Timea Bacsinszky and Halep enroute to the victory. Will the pressure get to the 20-year old Latvian? The ‘snack store owner’ plays Ekaterina Makarova or Carla Suarez Navarro in her Eastbourne opener.

3) Who will be the biggest contenders ahead of Wimbledon?

After a huge number of withdrawals in Birmingham, many top players will be playing their first grass tournaments including Kerber, Halep, Pliskova, Wozniacki, Kuznetsova, Radwanska, Ostapenko and more, where we can gauge the biggest contenders and dark horses ahead of SW19.

Thanks for reading! Check out my Eastbourne predictions at the usual place and follow me on Twitter @WTA_Fanatics 🙂

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