WTA Nottingham, R2 Match Preview: Alison Riske v Mirjana Lucic-Baroni

First round singles action concluded in Nottingham on Tuesday with Agnieszka Radwanska scoring a routine win over Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-0 6-3 in the last match of the day. It was a vital win for Aga who lost her first match at Roland Garros to Annika Beck. Kudryavtseva struggled to keep the ball in play in the first set, but was much more competitive in the second set. Radwanska played a clean match though and was not broken once in the 65 minute contest. Unfortunately the coverage isn’t great although there should be something on British Eurosport on Thursday. I’ve been watching matches on Bet365, which has live streams if you have an account. It’s fun trying to squint and pick out the ball. In ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Eugenie Bouchard had another rough loss as she blew a 4-0 third set lead, going down 6-4 to Yaroslava Shvedova. Confidence is a big thing…

1. Alison Riske v Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (Nottingham, R2)

RiskeAn intriguing second round match awaits in Nottingham between Alison Riske and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni with just ten places separating the pair in the rankings. Grass is Riske’s favourite surface; the American player has reached back-to-back third rounds at Wimbledon and last year, defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Camila Giorgi with a pair of gutsy displays. Riske always does well in Birmingham where she has reached two semi-finals, coming through as a qualifier on both occasions. In her first grass court match of the year, Riske defeated Saisai Zheng, 6-3 6-4. Riske led by a set and a double break before a brief rain delay. Zheng got one of the breaks back on the resumption of play but Riske held on, serving the match out to love. Grass isn’t Zheng’s surface although her slice did cause a few problems for Riske. The American player didn’t look entirely comfortable but for her first match on grass this year, it was a solid showing.

Lucic-Baroni dished out a first set bagel in her first round match against Stefanie Voegele in just 19 minutes. Lucic-Baroni prevailed, but had to do it in three sets, 6-0 4-6 6-3. Lucic-Baroni won the WTA comeback player of the year in 2014 after a stunning spell towards the end of the year where she beat Simona Halep en route to the last 16 at the US Open and then won her first title since 1998(!) at Quebec City where she beat Venus Williams in the final. 2015 hasn’t been as kind although she did cause another stirring upset at a Slam, beating Halep at Roland Garros two weeks ago. Prior to that tournament, Lucic-Baroni had lost a seemingly unassailable lead to Madison Keys in a confidence crushing second round loss in Strasbourg. Lucic-Baroni is an erratic player but her best tennis will certainly trouble Riske. It will depend on how long her “good” tennis lasts. I’ll stick with Riske, but I won’t be surprised either way…

Prediction: Riske d. Lucic-Baroni in 3 sets

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