Kerber, Azarenka, Kvitova This Week at Birmingham, Mallorca; WTA Previews
The WTA grasscourt season heats up in the second week as world No. 1 Angie Kerber and three other Top 10ers take to the lawns in Birmingham, and former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and Sabine Lisicki make their 2017 debuts in Spain.
Also adding some spice in Mallorca are Anett Kontaveit who won a grasscourt title last week, and Genie Bouchard trying to resurrect her career. Maybe she’ll hire tournament director Toni Nadal.
Here’s a look at this week’s WTA events:
AEGON CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM
BIRMINGHAM, England; surface: grass
Seeds: Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina, Dominika Cibulkova, Johanna Konta, Kristina Mladenovic, Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, Barbora Strycova
Floaters: Lucie Safarova, Daria Gavrilova, (WC) Heather Watson
Notes: Four Top 10ers in the field…The world No. 1 Kerber debuts on the grass, as does former Wimbledon champ and returning-from-injury Petra Kvitova…Challenges right off the bat for (1) Kerber vs. Safarova, (7) Kvitova vs. the riser Gavrilova, and (2) Svitolina vs. the homecountry hero (WC) Watson…Wildcards went to Kvitova and Brits Watson and Naomi Broady…The players who withdrew make up a better field than the current: Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Daria Kasatkina, Madison Keys, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Jelena Ostapenko, Monica Puig, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Elena Vesnina…The withdrawn defending champ Keys beat Strycova in last year’s final…Kerber (2015) is the lone former champ in the field.
MALLORCA, Spain; surface: grass
Seeds: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Anastasija Sevastova, Caroline Garcia, Carla Suarez Navarro, Kiki Bertens, Roberta Vinci, Ana Konjuh, Timea Babos
Floaters: (WC) Victoria Azarenka, (WC) Sabine Lisicki, CiCi Bellis, Anett Kontaveit, Jelena Jankovic, Elise Mertens, Genie Bouchard
Notes: Victoria Azarenka returns to the tour after giving birth to her son, Leo, and Sabine Lisicki also makes her 2017 debut after a shoulder injury suffered last November…Interesting starts for (5) Bertens vs. (WC) Lisicki, (4) Suarez Navarro vs. the canny Bellis, (6) Vinci vs. Kontaveit who won a grasscourt title last week, (3) Garcia vs. Jankovic who has won a career grasscourt title, (7) Konjuh looking at (WC) Azarenka 2nd rd., and (2) Sevastova vs. Mertens just because…Withdrawing from the field were Annika Beck, Monica Niculescu and Laura Siegemund…The tournament director is Toni Nadal, Rafael Nadal’s uncle and coach…Azarenka, Lisicki, Italian Francesca Schiavone, and Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo were the recipients of wildcards…Garcia beat Sevastova in last year’s final…This is the 2nd year of the WTA event.
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