The 2016 Aegon International draw was conducted in Eastbourne on Saturday with main draw action set to get underway on Sunday. The line-up is very similar to last year with the two key omissions being the two Slam champs of 2016, Angelique Kerber and Garbiñe Muguruza. Check out my highlights from day 1 at the Aegon International with pictures from the practice courts HERE and qualifying HERE. Note that all the seeds have byes into the second round. Let’s take a look at the top ten seeds and the draw….
Eastbourne Seeds 1-10
Agnieszka Radwanska (1): Radwanska will be keen for more matches in Eastbourne after suffering a first round exit in Birmingham to CoCo Vandeweghe. The world number three was vulnerable on second serve and struggled to adjust to Vandeweghe’s deep groundstrokes. Still, the American has been in terrific form during this grass court season. Radwanska could meet Vandeweghe again (or Barbora Strycova) in the second round of Eastbourne.
Roberta Vinci (2): After a bright and bold start to 2016, injuries have got the better of last year’s US Open finalist. Vinci endured a miserable clay court season, compiling a 3-5 W-L record. This will be Vinci’s first grass court tournament of the year and it’s a surface that does suit her game with the tricky slice that can stay lowwww on the grass. Vinci’s first match will be against Tara Moore or Ekaterina Makarova.
Belinda Bencic (3): The Swiss player made a successful comeback from a back injury in Rosmalen where she reached the semi-finals on her favourite surface. However, things took a turn for a worse for Bencic as she was forced to retire from her first match in Birmingham against Irina-Camelia Begu due to a hip/thigh injury following a slip on the grass. Bencic’s first match could be against Elena Vesnina who she lost to in Charleston, clearly hindered by the back.
Timea Bacsinszky (4): After a hectic clay court season in 2015 which saw her reach the semi-finals of the French Open, Bacsinszky didn’t play a grass court warm-up tournament before Wimbledon last year. This year, after an equally hectic clay season, Bacsinszky is in the Eastbourne draw (major yay, never seen Timea play before so excited about this!). While clay seems to be her preferred surface, Bacsinszky reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year without any prior matches on the grass. Bacsinszky will open against either Kristina Mladenovic or Yanina Wickmayer.
Petra Kvitova (5): The former Wimbledon Champion made a super start to her 2016 grass court campaign with a ninth victory over Lucie Safarova. However she failed to back it up in the next round, losing out in three sets to a sharp, Jelena Ostapenko. Kvitova had strapping on her leg but it seemed more of a getting-used-to-the-grass injury than anything concerning. Kvitova will face a big hitter in her first match; either Timea Babos or Camila Giorgi.
Svetlana Kuznetsova (6): The former French Open champion will play her first tournament on grass this year after a successful clay court season. In fact, it’s been a pretty decent year all round for Kuznetsova, so much so, it’s still a bit of a surprise to see her at number 12 in the rankings! Kuznetsova could play Yulia Putintseva (please make it happen!) or a qualifier in the second round.
Sam Stosur (7): The Aussie will play her first tournament since a fabulous and pretty much unexpected run to the semi-finals in Roland Garros. Stosur’s plight on grass courts has been widely documented, but her results in Eastbourne have been fair; she has reached the semi-finals on three occasions although she has lost her last three matches at this tournament. Stosur plays the winner of a fascinating first rounder between Caroline Wozniacki and Alizé Cornet.
Carla Suárez Navarro (8): The WTA continues to dazzle in wildness in 2016 as Suarez Navarro’s form has surged on the grass. After a respectable clay court season, CSN had an excellent run in Birmingham with victories over Elina Svitolina (#33), Andrea Petkovic (#18) and Angelique Kerber (#4). Eastbourne may not be as high priority for Carla after her success in Birmingham, but she’ll have a winnable opener against Misaki Doi or a qualifier.
Madison Keys (9): Keys has made an excellent start to the grass court season, reaching the final of Birmingham. The 21-year-old has had a deceptively good year as she took a while to get going due to various injuries. She continues to peak for the tournaments that really matter, reaching the last 16 at five of her last six Majors. First up will be Naomi Broady or a qualifier in Eastbourne, but i’m not expecting another deep run after some tough matches in Birmingham.
Karolina Pliskova (10): Like Keys, Pliskova will also be arriving to Eastbourne late due to doubles commitments in Birmingham. The Czech player lost in the first round of singles to her partner, Barbora Strycova. It wasn’t a great surprise as she arrived from Nottingham where she was crowned champion but had to play three matches over the weekend. Pliskova showed some excellent form and her serve was lethal at times. Pliskova will open against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova or Daria Gavrilova.
Who knows with this one… i’ve had no time to deliberate so just went through the Draw Challenge and made my picks with some decisive thinking. The week before the Slam often produces shocks as Wimbledon will be the priority so expect the unexpected. I’ve still gone for Radwanska though!
QF Predictions: Radwanka-Ostapenko, Safarova-Stosur, Pliskova-Vesnina & Konta-Vinci
Final Prediction: Radwanska d. Pliskova