The main draw began on Sunday at the 2019 Nature Valley International in Eastbourne with 12 first round matches on the schedule. It was supposed to be another glorious day but turned out to be quite cloudy and subdued! This post reviews all the first rounders that I got to see, as well as the best of the rest from around Devonshire Park with plenty of photos along the way. Read on for Sunday’s report from Eastbourne… and it’s live!
Match reviews 🎾
Anett Kontaveit d. Harriet Dart, 3-6 6-4 6-2
Anett Kontaveit won her first match since Rome, coming from a set down to beat Harriet Dart. The 22-year-old Brit played a very clean opening set and looked liked the higher ranked player in many of the rallies. Kontaveit was very erratic in the first set and couldn’t get a look in on the Dart serve. The Estonian player began to find her range in the second set and was increasingly aggressive on return.
Kontaveit broke serve at 3-3 in the second set with a return winner as Dart. The Brit, who had been given a time violation (!) in between the first and second serves on break point, had a nasty slip on the grass. I thought it was the ankle but she went off court for treatment so I think it was more of a leg injury. While she seemed to be moving OK, Dart never really recovered after that moment as Kontaveit was dominant for the remainder of the match, dropping just two points behind her first serve in the final two sets.
Margarita Gasparyan d. Katerina Siniakova, 6-3 6-3
A steady and solid, Margarita Gasparyan beat a wild and imploding, Katerina Siniakova in front of a depleted Court 1 crowd. Gasparyan came back from deficits in both sets. In fact, Siniakova looked well on her way to winning the opener, leading 3-0* 40-15*. I thought Siniakova’s attitude was pretty shocking. The Czech player thwacked the grass towards the end of the first set and I was surprised she didn’t get a code violation from the umpire.
Even down a break, Gasparyan was calm and composed, and produced some wonderful passing shot winners in the second set. Gasparyan continues to impress on grass this year. The Russian player has beaten a higher ranked player at all three warm-up tournaments she has played on the green stuff.
Johanna Konta d. Dayana Yastremska, 6-2 6-4
Johanna Konta got off to a great start at home in Eastbourne with a straight sets win over a dangerous opponent in Dayana Yastremska. I joined a decent crowd on Centre Court midway through the second set. I was impressed that Konta was able to reset after the disappointment of not breaking Yastremska’s serve at 3-3 where she missed four break points. Konta then steered away from danger in her next service game at *15-30 and managed to win the last two games to wrap up the win in straights.
Jo got a great reception from the crowd. I think Jo is a contender for the title this week in Eastbourne.
Daria Kasatkina d. Andrea Petkovic, 5-7 6-4 6-2
The last match of the day on Centre was the most entertaining of the lot as Andrea Petkovic rallied from a set down to beat Daria Kasatkina. I liked Kasatkina’s intensity in the first set – she was pumped up and hitting the ball with conviction. The Russian player let slip a double break lead but eventually managed to serve it out from a *0-40 deficit.
Kasatkina scored a huge hold at 3-3 in the second set, saving three break points. I liked her use of slice which drew a couple of forced errors from Petkovic. Kasatkina then broke and it felt like Dasha was closing in on the win. However, there was another twist as an increasingly aggressive AND accurate, Petkovic started hitting out as she won 12 of the last 15 points to force a decider.
Petkovic continued to hit aggressively and move up the court in the decider, forcing Kasatkina on the run. I thought Kasatkina was hitting her forehand well but she did get stuck in a defensive court position more and more with Petkovic unloading. Just like the end of the second set, Petkovic won 12 of the last 15 points as Kasatkina did drop her level at the end.
I thought there were some promising signs for Kasatkina who did have Carlos Martinez out on court which I think confirms they are officially working together. A great win for Petkovic who was very gracious in clapping Kasatkina off the court at the end of the match. As usual, her post-match interview was a hoot as she discussed being old and the pesky seagulls!
Epic match alert 🚨
The longest match of the day was out on Court 1 where Zhang Shuai rallied from a break down in the deciding set to beat Brit wild card, Katie Swan, 7-6(7) 4-6 6-4 in two hours and 33 minutes. There were tweets shared between the pair after the match about some line calls.
Handshakes and hugs 🤗
A nice moment at the net between Anett Kontaveit and Harriet Dart.
LOL moment 🤣
There’s a line judge with a really loud and hoarse voice who I keep noticing in matches. He drew laughs at the Bacsinszky-Golubic and Konta-Yastremska matches, and called a foot fault on Anett Kontaveit today which she seemed rather bemused by!
Favourite snap 📸
Liked this one of Margarita Gasparyan after winning her first round match. Again so many great photo opportunities from behind Court 1!
Around the grounds 👟
Anett Kontaveit and Zhang Shuai practised together this morning before their 11am matches. Zhang kept saying sorry during the practice! They shared a hearty handshake and good luck to each other at the net. They were both winners and are in to the second round.
Karolina Pliskova was out practising on one of the outside courts with coach, Conchita Martinez. It was probably the most fun practice session i’ve watched all week. There were plenty of laughs and Martinez is great! She’s so positive and seems to really love what she is doing. She had her trusty box of balls and was doing volleys and returns, constantly giving feedback to Pliskova. At one point, Olga Savchuk pulled up a chair and watched. She asked a member of Pliskova’s team when she did she learn to hit the slice return.
The seagulls were swooping during the final match of the day on Centre between Petkovic and Kasatkina. One seagull landed in the stadium, prompting an anguished cry from a spectator!
If you’re considering coming to Eastbourne in the future, i’d definitely recommend going on the Sunday. I think it’s the best day as you can enter all the courts and sit wherever you like, and there’s always a decent line of first round matches and top players practising. The outside courts were so empty during Konta’s match and there was barely anyone watching Pliskova’s practice! From Monday, the top three courts all require separate tickets which I do not like at all.
MTB on social media 🎾
My favourite pictures from day 2 at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne can be found on the Moo’s Tennis Blog Facebook page.
Tomorrow’s OOP ⭐
Sadly today was my last full day in Eastbourne! I’ll be around for a bit on Monday so hoping to catch some of the early matches – Poots vs. Collins is on my radar! It’s a crazy schedule and I do think the overlap between Birmingham/Mallorca and Eastbourne is just ridiculous. The line-up for the next three days is going to be manic.