Eastbourne 2019 – Previews & Polls

Saturday’s Final Preview

Karolina Pliskova vs. Angelique Kerber: A shame about the semi-finals but I have high hopes for this final with both having yet to have dropped a set all week. In fact, Pliskova has dropped just 14 games through 4 matches. Kerber looked in superb form vs. Halep and then got a day off on Friday with Jabeur’s retirement,

The pair haven’t played for over a year. Their only previous grass court meeting was in the final of Birmingham where Kerber prevailed in a classic, 6-7(5) 6-3 7-6(4). I’d probably give the edge to Kerber based on grass court pedigree but Pliskova has been in superb form this week so I’m mostly torn. Can’t wait to watch this final!

Friday’s SF Previews

Angelique Kerber vs. Ons Jabeur: First time meeting! Kerber played her best match of the week in Eastbourne with a straight sets win over Simona Halep in the quarter-finals. There were some super rallies in the second sets and Kerber played an all-round great match, proving hard to break down and then unloading with some stunners down-the-line. Jabeur’s having her best week of the year and there wasn’t much warning! I guess it makes sense with her flashy game as when things click, it’s poetry in motion. Just wonder how Jabeur will respond tomorrow having injured in ankle in her quarter-final match. Kerber for the win.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Kiki Bertens: The top two from the bottom half have made the semi-finals which isn’t a big surprise as Pliskova and Bertens have been two of the most consistent and reliable performers of 2019. Pliskova’s stats for her quarter-final win over Alexandrova were incredible – 22 winners to 3 unforced errors and those UEs were all double faults!!! Bertens had to battle through a tight three setter with Sabalenka. A bit of a collapse from Sabalenka at the end (but overall a good week for the Belarusian) but Bertens did well to hold on. Bertens leads the H2H, 3-2 and won their only previous meeting on grass at Wimbledon last year, 6-3 7-6(1). Pliskova looks in sensational form but she’s yet to be really tested this week. Bertens should provide that test. Slight edge to Pliskova but I think it will be close.

Thursday’s QF Previews

Ons Jabeur vs. Alizé Cornet: A surprising quarter-final but both have defeated seeds to reach this stage of the tournament. Cornet beat Svitolina in the second round while Jabeur, who had saved a match point to reach the last 16, produced an excellent display to beat Konta on Wednesday. This will be a first career match-up between the two (🔔🔔🔔) with a huge opportunity to reach a lucrative Premier semi-final. Easy to pick Jabeur based on her form vs. Konta but it’s not often as straightforward as that and this is a new match. I’m torn.

Angelique Kerber vs. Simona Halep: Blockbuster match-up in Eastbourne tomorrow! This will be the 11th meeting between Kerber and Halep and their first of 2019. Their last two were at Slams and Halep’s win at the AO was my favourite match of 2018. Kerber definitely the better player on grass but instinct for this match, strangely to me, is Halep.

Aryna Sabalenka vs. Kiki Bertens: Eastbourne will see two all top ten clashes on Thursday with Sabalenka and Bertens meeting for the second time this year. Sabalenka scored what felt like a huge win over Wozniacki, saving a match point and avenging last year’s final loss with a third set tiebreak win. Bertens hasn’t really been tested en route to the quarters with two straight set wins. Sabalenka slipped on her fabulous match point winner against Woz and already had her leg taped. Bertens definitely the fave and the more rested, but interested to see what kind of performance Sabalenka produces here. Not writing off Aryna just yet.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova: Pliskova has cruised into the quarter-finals for the loss of just nine games with straight set wins over Margarita Gasparyan and Elise Mertens. Alexandrova has had a good grass court season and is a dangerous match. I’m feeling quite high on Pliskova right now and she’s probably my pick for the final right now.

Wednesday R3 Previews

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Aryna Sabalenka: Best match-up on paper and it’s on Court 1! A repeat of last year’s final too. Really pleased to see Sabalenka pick up a win, her first on the grass, against Tamara Zidansek on Tuesday. I thought Wozniacki played an exceptional match against Andrea Petkovic in the second round, hitting 28 winners to just 6 unforced errors.

The pair are tied at 1-1 in their H2H – Woz won the Eastbourne final last year, 7-5 7-6(5), while Sabalenka saved match points in their most recent clash in Montreal, winning in a third set tiebreak. I’d go for Woz in this one as i’m still not convinced by Sabalenka’s form and confidence right now. Woz keeps repeating that she is healthy again and she adores this tournament.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Elise Mertens: Ring the bells for another first time match-up! Nice to see Mertens winning a few more matches having had a quiet year, barring her superb run in Doha. Pliskova played an excellent opener against Margarita Gasparyan and looked very happy on the practice courts in Eastbourne. Mertens is an excellent competitor and will be no pushover but I think Pliskova will prevail and reach the quarters.

Jelena Ostapenko vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova: Alexandrova won their last match in Seoul in 2018. I’m pleasantly surprised how Ostapenko has reacted to her loss in Birmingham to Petra Martic where she had five match points. Her response to a 6-1 breadstick opening set loss to Sloane Stephens was impressive. While she’s always going to be one of those players that you just never know what level they are going to bring, Ostapenko is currently enjoying her best spell of the year. Slightly on the fence but i’m going for Ostapenko who is bidding to reach back-to-back quarter-finals in Eastbourne.

Tuesday R2 Previews

Kiki Bertens vs Yulia Putintseva: I haven’t seen much of Bertens so i’m guessing she has been practising off site. This will be her first match since that crushing final loss in Rosmalen from match point up vs. Riske. Putintseva is having her best grass court season to date although that’s not hard with her previous record! Bertens leads the H2H, 3-1 and I feel her game can work on the grass. Not sure she believes it! With the serve, i’d favour Bertens in this match-up on grass.

Johanna Konta vs. Maria Sakkari: Konta’s section of the draw has opened up beautifully although Sakkari will be a tricky match-up. Sakkari beat Konta a few months ago in the final of Rabat although that was on clay. I really like Konta right now and definitely one to watch for the Wimbledon draw. I think Konta makes at least semis here in Eastbourne.

Marketa Vondrousova vs. Elise Mertens: 50-50 on this one. I’m undecided as to whether Vondrousova’s game translates to the grass.

Sloane Stephens vs. Jelena Ostapenko: Fascinating match-up for the grass. They’ve only played once before in the Miami final last year where Stephens won, 7-6(5) 6-1. Stephens has been practising a lot these past few days but has played just two competitive singles matches on grass since 2016. Ostapenko meanwhile, while still wildly inconsistent, has shown some very promising signs over the past week. I’d go for Ostapenko on the grass.

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Andrea Petkovic: I thought Petkovic played a great match against Kasatkina and turned it around from a set down by playing so aggressively. This match-up favours Wozniacki who leads it, 4-1. Woz loves Eastbourne and I think she’ll be to steady for Petkovic.

Simona Halep vs. Hsieh Su-Wei: Probably my favourite match of the day and cannot believe it’s on Court 3. Obviously there will have been some reasoning behind it in the schedule but I think it could be absolute carnage as Simona is a big draw name and court 3 is SMALL. I’m wondering how the court placement could affect the match. Hsieh’s at her best on grass and had one of her best career wins over Halep at Wimbledon last year. Tough to replicate it after a quick turnaround from Brum doubles and a tough first round win over Giorgi. I’m wary of the threat of Hsieh on grass but i’d give the nod to Halep.

Tuesday R2 Polls

Monday R2 Previews

Karolina Pliskova vs. Margarita Gasparyan: The last time that Pliskova and Gasparyan played each other was in Doha in 2016 when Gasparyan won, 6-1 6-1! I think this is an interesting match-up. Gasparyan has looked great on the grass and notched a win over a higher ranked player for the past three weeks. I saw Pliskova practising yesterday and she seemed in high spirits. I fancy Gasparyan to put up a good fight but would go for Pliskova ultimately to win the match.

Elina Svitolina vs. Alizé Cornet: Svitolina will be seeking her first win on grass this year. I watched Svitolina’s practice on Saturday and I thought she looked frustrated with how she was playing. Cornet has already won two matches on the green stuff this year and beat Heather Watson in the first round of Eastbourne. Svitolina has won their last four meetings and all in straight sets. I don’t think either would class grass as their favourite surface which perhaps may neutralise the match-up. I think Svitolina is vulnerable right now but still think she will scrap out the win.

Monday R1 Previews

Hsieh Su-Wei vs. Camila Giorgi: I adore the prospect of this match-up and sad that I will have left before it starts. Giorgi has been pulling out of every tournament under the sun. She hasn’t played since Miami, seemingly due to injury. I’ve seen her practising in Eastbourne and she seems to be hitting the ball well. Hsieh will make a late dash from Brum having won the doubles with Strycova.

I think both players are at their best on the grass. The clash in styles should be glorious. The pair have played just once before nearly six years ago in New York where Giorgi won, 6-4 7-6. A lot of question marks with Giorgi but even with no matches since Miami, I quite like her chances?

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Kirsten Flipkens: Wozniacki returns to the tour following a first round loss at the French and her recent wedding! I’ve seen her the most on the practice courts so far and she practised twice on Saturday with Pliskova and Buzarnescu. Flipkens is at her best on the grass so this could be a fun match. I’d still take the defending Eastbourne champ who seems to like and thrive at this tournament.

Danielle Collins vs. Yulia Putintseva: Can you imagine if they are both on form?! It’s also time to ring those bells for a new match-up alert. Putintseva had a excellent run in Brum, not one I was expecting considering her record on grass. Collins will be playing her first match on grass this year and I remember it was her first ever experience of playing on this surface last year. For that reason, a bit unsure of Collins, but I would generally pick her in this match-up.

Jelena Ostapenko vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu: The pair are split at 2-2 in their head-to-head and they played last year in Eastbourne too. Ostapenko won that match convincingly, 6-1 6-2, although I think Buz was hurting from all the matches she had played. Buzarnescu has lost her last three matches on tour while Ostapenko will be looking to recover from a crushing quarter-final loss vs. Petra Martic where she missed five match points. For me, this one depends on Ostapenko and whether she can move past the Martic loss as she played superbly in her first two singles matches in Brum.

Monday R1 Polls

Sunday R1 Previews

Anett Kontaveit vs. Harriet Dart: Quite looking forward to this one as i’ve never see Dart play live and I like Kontaveit. Unsurprisingly, it’s a first career match-up. Kontaveit has gone a bit quiet of late, losing her last three matches on tour. I didn’t think she played a bad match vs. Konta in Brum, just simply outplayed. From what i’ve seen of Dart, I think she has potential to crack the world’s top 100. I thought she played a great match against Pliskova last year at Wimby and she had a good run down under where she qualified for the main draws of both Brisbane and AO. While she will likely be buoyed by a home crowd, I do think Kontaveit will be too strong on this occasion.

Zhang Shuai vs. Katie Swan: Like Dart, I think Katie Swan has bundles of potential. I watched her first round match in Eastbourne against Danielle Collins where I thought she acquitted herself well. I have great respect for her honest post earlier this year about her mental health. Zhang Shuai hasn’t had a great year, at least in singles, and she’s yet to win a set on grass this year. Swan definitely with a shot at the upset.

Margarita Gasparyan vs. Katerina Siniakova: Interesting match-up and their first meeting at the WTA tour level. Siniakova enjoyed her best ever Slam run at the French but i’m still not entirely convinced that that was a turning point. I was super impressed with Gasparyan in Birmingham and it feels like grass should be a good surface for her with the one-handed backhand. On recency bias, i’d go for Gasparyan.

Johanna Konta vs. Dayana Yastremska: The match of the day and a little surprised it’s up on the Sunday. Konta was originally scheduled to play Donna Vekic but this draw isn’t any more straightforward! Yastremska came through two rounds of qualifying and played a good match against Viktorija Golubic on Saturday. This will be a first career match-up between the pair and I think it will take some time for Konta to adjust to Yastremska’s laser returns and down-the-line shots. This feels like a bit of a toss-up. Slightly leaning towards to Konta with home advantage, experience on grass and additional variety to her game which I guess could be a factor against Yastremska.

Maria Sakkari vs. Jessica Pegula: Sakkari hasn’t won a match on grass since Wimbledon 2017. I liked her tactics against Osaka last week in Birmingham and I thought she played some good stuff. Pegula’s having a great year and has one and a half matches on the Eastbourne courts under her belt. Another toss-up, quite like Pegula?

Aliaksandra Sasnovich vs. Rebecca Peterson: Another first meeting. I thought Sasnovich could have done more against Venus last week in Brum and she’s looking for a first win since Madrid. Peterson lost in the first round of Mallorca to Belinda Bencic but from the highlights, it looked a high quality match? I quite like Peterson on the grass. I’ve said it before but I feel her game is generally underrated.

Daria Kasatkina vs. Andrea Petkovic: Ring the bells for another first time meeting. Looking forward to this one! Surely a hug at the end?! Kasatkina has been working with Carlos Martinez on the practice courts and I thought, although difficult to read too much into practices, that she was hitting the ball OK. Kasatkina played well on the grass last year and I think this can be a good surface for her IF she plays aggressively and uses that slice. I don’t think Petkovic and grass is a match made in heaven! It will be interesting see where Dasha’s mentality is in this one. I feel confident in going for Kasatkina which instantly makes me wary 🤣.

Elise Mertens vs. Monica Puig: Mertens has had a funny old year. When you take out that stunning run in Doha and the exceptional match she played with Sevastova at the French, it’s been a rather mediocre year by the high standards she set last year. Puig’s had a couple of good runs this year but she’s not been able to sustain that form at back-to-back tournaments. Mertens probably the safer pick but i’ll take a whirl with Puig.

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