Nottingham and ‘s-Hertogenbosch are over for another year with Donna Vekic and Anett Kontaveit being crowned champions respectively. For Kontaveit, this was her first title at WTA level and continues what has been a superb breakthrough 2017 season.
Kontaveit beat Natalia Vikhlyantseva in Sunday’s final, 6-2 6-3. The match was closer than the scoreline suggested with five of the eight games in the first set going to deuce and Vikhlyantseva up an early break in the second set. Kontaveit rallied from 1-3 down and won the last five games with a stunning surge of aggressive tennis.
I think you will all realise i’m on the Kontaveit bandwagon! She has sound groundstrokes off both wings and is looking a very impressive player with her growing confidence during the year. Via the live rankings, Kontaveit is up to number 36 in the world. When you take into account the withdrawals from players ranked above, this puts her on the verge of getting a seed for Wimbledon I’d love to see Anett in the top 32 because I think she is a big threat at SW19 with the right draw. Kontaveit is playing Mallorca next week and opens against Roberta Vinci.
Battling through another tight three setter, Donna Vekic beat Johanna Konta, 2-6 7-6(3) 7-5 in two hours and 29 minutes to win Nottingham. This was the best win of Vekic’s career – interestingly, her two top ten wins have both come in her WTA title wins! Vekic’s first title was back in Kuala Lumpur where she outlasted Dominika Cibulkova in another marathon final.
Again, huge credit to Vekic, who was more effective behind her first serve in the second and third sets, and pelted Konta’s baseline with superb depth on both her groundstrokes and return. Konta never really looked comfortable and was second best for much of the decider. There was a moment where it looked like Konta’s experience might just pull her through. Serving to stay in the match at *4-5 in a high pressure moment, Vekic delivered one of the most emphatic holds i’ve seen in a long time. From there, Vekic was on it.
It still shocks me that Vekic is only 20 years old after breaking through so early with her final run in Birmingham in 2013. She has demonstrated before that she can elevate her game to a pretty high level – key has always been consistency and mental focus. There were times in her last two matches against Lucie Safarova and Konta where she got down on herself and was very negative in her body language. However, she brought it back in both matches and hopefully she can build on this going forward in the grass court season. Next up is Birmingham where she will play Alison Riske in the first round.
Part two of an interview with Lucie Safarova is up on her official website at the link below. Note that it has been reported in Czech media that Lucie has split with her coach, Frantisek Cermak.
The number one seed, Angelique Kerber is out of Birmingham, which has prompted a draw reshuffle. These reshuffles have buggered so many of my previews this year ha! Note there won’t be one for Eastbourne which will probably be for the best! Lucie now gets Dominika Cibulkova in the first round.
A full preview of the Birmingham main draw is now up on the blog.
Who you got for Birmingham? I’ve gone for a Mladenovic-Strycova final.
The order of play is up for Monday in Birmingham – most interested by the first two matches, the ones i’ll definitely miss!
The main draw is out for Mallorca and it’s a good one. I remember when the original entry lists came out for Birmingham and Mallorca, and the latter was somewhat in the shadows. However, with the wild cards of Victoria Azarenka and Sabine Lisicki, the draw has been lifted and there are some really engaging first round match-ups.
And finally, this sounds like good news for Sloane!