Johanna Konta is set to play the trio of British grass court warm-up tournaments and she got off to a solid start, only needing to play a set and a half against an injured, Tara Moore in Nottingham. Konta was leading 6-2 3-0 *40-0 when Moore called it a day due to a foot injury. The big difference between the pair was the serve – Konta dropped just six points on serve and only one on her second serve! While Konta was a little wasteful on break points, it was clear to see why Moore has had her best results on this surface.
While a first round exit at Roland Garros was disappointing, the increased exposure to playing on grass may actually turn out to be positive for Konta in terms of preparation for Wimbledon. Konta plays Yanina Wickmayer in the second round – the Belgian player won their last encounter on grass in Birmingham last year.
I was playing tennis tonight but it didn’t last so long since there was only three of us! I was back in time for the final match of the day in Nottingham where Christina McHale won just her second match since Miami, surviving a rocky third set to beat the number two seed, Anastasija Sevastova, 6-0 5-7 7-6(2). McHale was up 5-2 in the third set, thanks to some decent serving and dealing well with Sevastova’s drop shots and slice. The American was unable to serve out the match at *5-3 as Sevastova reeled off four straight games, playing some incrasingly smart tennis, lengthening the rallies and moving McHale from side-to-side.
Sevastova couldn’t serve out the match either, which promptly went into a third set tiebreak. Considering McHale’s recent run of form and how the third set had gone, it was the American who stepped it up and began to dictate with the forehand. She sealed the match on a lovely backhand passing shot winner that was threaded beautifully down-the-line. There wasn’t much of a celebration – Christina looked more relieved!
French Open women’s doubles finalists, Lucie Safarova and Ash Barty both had little time to prepare on the grass but started their campaigns in Nottingham with three set wins. Barty beat Tatjana Maria, 4-6 6-3 6-0 and dropped just five points (!) in the decider. Safarova recovered from the disappointment of missing match points in the second set to eventually prevail against Grace Min, 6-3 6-7(5) 6-2.
Mona Barthel’s coach, Christopher Kas had some positive words to say about Barty – I didn’t see her match today but she was already on my watch list for grass after impressing in Nottingham last year.
In other matches from Nottingham…
Maria Sakkari saved three match points in the third set tiebreak to beat Jana Cepelova, 7-6(3) 5-7 7-6(6).
The Surbiton champion, Magdalena Rybarikova dropped just three games against the qualifier and Wimbledon 2016 juniors finalist, Dayana Yastremska, 6-1 6-2.
American seeds, Lauren Davis and Shelby Rogers both went out in straight sets, defeated by Kurumi Nara and Donna Vekic respectively.
The highlights in ‘s-Hertogenbosch included…
Andrea Petkovic scored her best win of the year, edging the number three seed, Kiki Bertens in three sets, 7-6(6) 2-6 6-2. A nice embrace at the net!
Carina Witthoeft beat the number four seed and former champion, CoCo Vandeweghe, 6-7(3) 6-3 7-5. Vandeweghe is now working with Pat Cash.
Kristina Mladenovic was the highest seed in action and advanced to the second round with a 7-5 6-1 victory over Risa Ozaki.
Anett Kontaveit came from a set down to beat Kristyna Pliskova, dropping just seven points behind her serve in the final two sets to win, 6-7(5) 6-3 6-1.
The qualifier, Andrea Hlavackova won her first WTA main draw singles match since Nottingham last year – the Czech player beat lucky loser, Asia Muhammad, 6-3 3-6 6-4.
A few withdrawals from Birmingham – Kasatkina and Vesnina are down to play Eastbourne the week after, while Keys is currently not down to play a grass court warm-up tournament.
Madison has been doing a spot of baking – I want the recipe! I’m looking forward to getting back to baking once the British summer of tennis has finished.
And finally, Sabine Lisicki is set for her first tournament of 2017 in Mallorca!