I will be trying to catch as many first round matches in Eastbourne as I can! I’m a bit tied up so there won’t be a tournament preview this week. However, with the 16 byes in the draw and quite a few uncertainties with players going deep in Birmingham, this is a tournament where it’s best to look at each day as it comes. Of course though, I can’t help myself and i’ll *try* and post a full set of tournament predictions tomorrow morning. I haven’t even looked at the draw yet! Monday is looking like a wash-out so i’ll probably end up having time to catch up on some previews 😉 Main draw begins on Sunday with seven first round matches.
1. Belinda Bencic v Mona Barthel (Eastbourne, R1)
In the first main draw match of the 2015 Aegon International, Belinda Bencic will take on Mona Barthel on Centre Court. The pair have enjoyed distinctly different grass court season so far. Barthel was forced to pull out of both Nottingham and Birmingham with a wrist injury, but has declared herself fit to play Eastbourne. Barthel has had an injury ravaged year and struggled to pick up any kind of momentum in 2015. Bencic didn’t enjoy great results during the clay court season but has looked at home on the grass. She reached the final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and won a match in Birmingham against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni before being out-aced by Sabine Lisicki in the second round. I watched Belinda’s practice today and it wasn’t all smiles, but I could see why she is so great on this surface.
The pair are tied at 1-1 in their head-to-head; Barthel won their first match in Nurnberg, but Bencic gained revenge in qualifying in New Haven. Bencic is playing well at the moment although she does have the tendency to get distracted (and a little petulant!) if things don’t go her way. Barthel has played little tennis of late so i’m expecting Belinda to come through relatively comfortably.
Prediction: Bencic d. Barthel in 2 sets
2. Alize Cornet v Alison Riske (Eastbourne, R1)
I am sooo there! I’m loving the prospect of a first round match between Alize Cornet and Alison Riske. The pair have met just once before with Riske winning all the way back in 2011 in Nantes on hard court. Riske had three wins in Nottingham en route to the semi-finals. She loves the grass although she has never won a main draw match at Eastbourne. Riske was beaten by eventual finalist, Angelique Kerber in a high quality two setter in the first round last year. I’d always regarded Cornet as a more dangerous player on the clay rather than the grass, but she ended up doing much better on the green stuff last year. She didn’t begin her 2015 grass court season as she would have liked with a three set loss to Christina McHale in Birmingham. I have this feeling (more of a hope haha) that this match could be a crazy three setter full of drama and general joy. I’m going to try and make ittttt! On grass and with a bit more confidence right now, i’d take Alison.
Prediction: Riske d. Cornet in 3 sets
WTA Eastbourne R1 Predictions
Sloane Stephens d. Naomi Broady in 3 sets
Johanna Konta d. Zarina Diyas in 3 sets *I can’t decide! I saw Diyas play some good stuff in practice, but Konta obviously thrives at this event*
Caroline Garcia d. Roberta Vinci in 3 sets
Coco Vandeweghe d. Johanna Larsson in 2 tight sets
Casey Dellacqua d. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in 2 tight sets