Nature Valley International, Eastbourne R1 Preview 🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic vs. 🇬🇧 (wc) Heather Watson
Kristina Mladenovic and Heather Watson will renew hostilities when they meet at the opening round stage of the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne. The pressure is on Watson this week, the Brit is defending semi-finalist points after a great run to the final 4 last year. Ranked just inside the top 100, Watson’s ranking will slip dramatically with an early round loss this week.
Mladenovic started her grass court campaign in Birmingham last week where she suffered a second round exit. The Frenchwoman did have a good opening round win in Birmingham, coming from a set down to beat Katerina Siniakova but was beaten by Magdalena Rybarikova from a set up in the second round. Mladenovic has had decent results on grass over the last few seasons, she certainly has the skills to play well on this surface.
Watson is already playing in her fourth event of the grass court swing having started at an ITF event a month ago. It has been a poor year for Watson and that hasn’t changed over the last few weeks. Watson arrives in Eastbourne fresh off a disappointing first round loss at the hands of Lesia Tsurenko in Birmingham. Grass is Watson’s best surface but she has yet prove that in her recent performances.
Mladenovic holds a 4-2 head-to-head record over Watson. The most recent match between the pair took place in Acapulco last year, a 7-6 6-7 7-5 win for Mladenovic in what was a very messy match. Mladenovic has won the last 3 matches between the pair but this will be their first meeting on grass, a surface that gives Watson a better chance in this match-up.
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🇬🇧 Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham R1 Preview 🇺🇦 Lesia Tsurenko vs. 🇬🇧 (wc) Heather Watson
An interesting opening round clash at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham sees Lesia Tsurenko come up against Britain’s number 2: Heather Watson. This is a particularly important week for Watson as she looks to build some much needed momentum before heading to Eastbourne where she is defending semi-finalist points. Tsurenko and Watson both play their best tennis on a quicker surface and both have similar strengths, expect a close match here.
Lesia Tsurenko’s form has been typically streaky in 2018. The Ukrainian does arrives in Birmingham on the back of a great run to the round of 16 at Roland Garros, however a retirement after just 2 games against Garbine Muguruza in that round of 16 clash was a very disappointing ending to the tournament. Tsurenko had some decent results on grass last year, a semi-final showing in s-Hertogenbosch and a third round appearance at Wimbledon, in theory it is a surface that should favour Tsurenko’s game.
Heather Watson sits precariously inside the top 100. Watson has a heap of points to defend in Eastbourne next week after reaching the semi-finals last year, an early round exit will see Watson’s ranking plummet. Watson has no points to defend in Birmingham after a first round exit last year so she can release some of the incoming pressure with a good week at the Nature Valley Classic. Watson arrives in Birmingham on the back of a second round showing in Nottingham where she was beaten by Johanna Konta in straight sets.
The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. It was Watson who won their only recent encounter, a 6-3 4-6 6-4 victory on grass in Eastbourne last year.
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🇬🇧 Nature Valley Open, Nottingham R2 Preview 🇬🇧 (4) Johanna Konta vs. 🇬🇧 Heather Watson
Britain’s number 1 and number 2 will go head-to-head when Johanna Konta takes on Heather Watson at the second round stage in Nottingham on Thursday. Konta and Watson both play some of their best tennis on grass, both claimed comfortable opening round wins and will head into this match full of confidence. Can Watson secure her first win over Konta?
Konta and Watson both powered through their opening round matches on Tuesday at the Nature Valley Open. Konta defeated Kurumi Nara 6-2 6-3 whilst Watson defeated Danielle Lao 6-1 6-3. The eyes of the British public turn to the grass court swing at this time of the year, Konta and Watson have both thrived in this situation in the past and will be hoping to do so again as both have had disappointing seasons thus far.
It was Konta who won the only previously completed match between the pair, a fairly comfortable 6-4 6-4 victory at Indian Wells last year.
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BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells R1 Preview 🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka vs 🇬🇧 Heather Watson
Victoria Azarenka will make her much anticipated return to the WTA tour with an opening round matchup against Britain’s Heather Watson at the BNP Paribas Open. Azarenka is a two-time former champion in Indian Wells having won the event in 2012 and 2016. The former world number 1 will be in action for the first time since Wimbledon last year after a lengthy custody battle kept her away from the game. It will be interesting to see what level the Belarusian can bring to the court in her return in what has historically been a good matchup for Azarenka.
Azarenka has a great record in Indian Wells, the gritty hard court surface really suits the Belarusian’s game. Azarenka has been preparing for her return for months, she is fit and ready to go. It would not be surprising to see Azarenka have a deep run at the BNP Paribas Open.
Heather Watson arrives at the BNP Paribas Open with 3 consecutive opening round losses to her name. Watson was in action last week in Acapulco where she was beaten in the opening round by Beatriz Haddad Maia in 3 sets, a match Watson would have expected to win. Prior to that Watson was beaten by Roberta Vinci in the opening round of qualifying at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy and suffered a very disappointing opening round loss to Yulia Putintseva at the Australian Open. Watson’s results at Indian Wells have generally been modest, her best result was a run to the fourth round in 2015.
Azarenka holds a dominant 5-0 head-to-head record over Watson, on a hard court that record is 3-0, all 3 wins were in straight sets, most recently a 6-2 6-4 win at the Rogers Cup in 2014. The most recent match between the pair took place last year at Wimbledon, Azarenka won that match 3-6 6-1 6-4 in what a very competitive match.
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Beatriz Haddad Maia and Heather Watson will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the opening round stage in Acapulco. Both players will see this as a winnable opening round clash at the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL, an important match for both.
Beatriz Haddad Maia is a player on the rise, perhaps the most exciting prospect in Brazilian tennis right now. The 21-year-old has had a tough start to the season, Haddad Maia has been dealt tough draws at each event she has competed in which has ensured an early exit at each event. Most recently, Haddad Maia came agonizingly close to helping guide Brazil into the Fed Cup world group 2 playoffs, Haddad Maia won her first couple of matches before falling to Cepede Royg in a third set tiebreak which ended Brazil’s chances of progression. It will be interesting to see how Haddad Maia rebounds after such a devastating loss.
Heather Watson’s most recent matches were also in Fed Group 1 playoffs. Watson won all 3 of her singles matches against much lower ranked opponents as Great Britain successfully qualified for the world group 2 playoffs. Watson’s last tour level match was at the Australian Open over a month ago where she suffered a very disappointing straight set loss to Yulia Putintseva. Watson did manage to reach the semi-finals in Hobart earlier in the year, so overall she has won a decent match of matches in 2018, albeit against inferior opposition.
This should be an interesting match-up between two contrasting styles. The powerful left-handed: Haddad Maia, against the consistent, baseline game of Heather Watson.
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Australian Open 🇦🇺 R1 Preview
🇰🇿 Yulia Putintseva vs 🇬🇧 Heather Watson
Heather Watson will begin her Australian campaign with a tough opening round clash against Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva. Heather Watson arrives in Melbourne with a renewed sense of confidence having gone through the qualifying draw to reach the semi-finals in Hobart last week. Putintseva and Watson are two players that have had some good success at the Grand Slam level given their rankings of outside the top 50. Who will win this battle and reach the second round at Melbourne Park?
Heather Watson will arrive in Melbourne battle-hardened and with a good amount of confidence. Watson started her season in Brisbane where she won a couple of matches before falling at the final hurdle in the qualifying draw. Watson successfully made it through the qualifying draw in Hobart and made it all the way through to the semi-finals where she pushed Elise Mertens to 3 sets.
Yulia Putintseva was also in action in Hobart last week. Putintseva did claim a good win over Naomi Osaka in the opening round but was comprehensively beaten by Lesia Tsurenko in the next round. Putintseva competed in Auckland the week before where she suffered a disappointing opening round loss to Ysaline Bonaventure.
The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. Most recently it was Watson who won 6-2 6-4 in Wuhan.
Hobart International 🇦🇺🌧️ SF #2 Preview
(2) 🇧🇪 Elise Mertens vs (Q) 🇬🇧 Heather Watson
Two former champions will go head-to-head at the semi-final stage in Hobart on Friday when defending champion: Elise Mertens takes on 2015 champion: Heather Watson. The Hobart International is the longest running WTA tournament that has not had multiple time winners, either Mertens or Watson will reach Saturday’s final and have a chance to break this record. This is should be a highly competitive match between two fairly evenly matches opponents.
Elise Mertens has started 2018 in superb form. Mertens had a good week at the Hopman Cup where she won 2 of her 3 matches, beating Daria Gavrilova and Eugenie Bouchard, in defeat Mertens was gallant as she pushed Angelique Kerber more than any other player in Perth. Mertens claimed her first career title in Hobart last year, doing it the hard way having come through the qualifying draw. The 2nd seed seemingly has a good chance to defend her title this week, Mertens started the event with straight set wins over Kurumi Nara and Beatriz Haddad Maia before securing her spot in the semi-finals courtesy of Monica Niculescu handing the Belgian a walkover.
Like Mertens, Heather Watson always loves playing in Hobart. The 2015 Hobart International champion has already won 5 matches this week having come through the qualifying draw. In the main draw, Watson has claimed 3 impressive wins in straight sets. Watson eliminated the 3rd seeded Sorana Cirstea in the opening round before beating Jaimee Fourlis comfortably 6-2 6-2. Watson booked her spot in the final 4 with a 6-0 6-4 win over Vekic. Watson was generally in full control of the match, dominant until 6-0 5-0. It was a nervy finish but Watson eventually got over the line.
The only previous match between the pair took place in Luxembourg last year, Mertens won that match 6-4 6-4. Will Mertens repeat that result and step closer to defending her title?
Hobart International 🇦🇺🌧️ QF Preview
🇭🇷 Donna Vekic vs (Q) 🇬🇧 Heather Watson
2015 Hobart International champion Heather Watson will be back in action on Thursday where she takes on Donna Vekic at the quarter-final stage. Watson has done things the hard week this week, the Brit was forced to battle her way through the qualifying draw, not the position Watson is used to finding herself in at an international level event. Watson will face a tough test against Vekic, the young Croatian has rocketed through to the quarter-finals in Hobart without dropping a set.
Vekic has made a good start to her first appearance at the Hobart International. Vekic started the week with a commanding 6-4 6-2 win over Tatjana Maria before getting past a wayward Marketa Voundrosova 6-4 6-4. These have been an important couple of wins for Vekic after the a tough 3 set loss to Flipkens in the first round in Auckland last week.
Heather Watson has already won 4 matches this week having come through the qualifying draw. Watson started the event with an easy win over Kimberly Birrell before coming from a set down to beat Nao Hibino and book her spot in the main draw. Watson eliminated the 3rd seeded Sorana Cirstea 7-5 6-3 In the opening round, a big win for the Brit. Watson cruised into the quarter-finals with a 6-2 6-2 win over Jaimee Fourlis.
The only previous match between the pair ended in a 6-3 4-6 7-5 win for Vekic on clay in Charleston in 2015.
Wimbledon 🇬🇧💂🍓 Day 5, R3 Match Preview: 🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka vs (wc) 🇬🇧 Heather Watson
Victoria Azarenka is building momentum nicely at SW19. Azarenka overcame a tough early round test against Catherine Bellis where she came from a set down before cruising past the 15th seeded Elena Vesnina in straight sets. Azarenka will come up against Britain’s Heather Watson on Friday, an opponent the Belarusian has a perfect record against.
Aegon International, 🇬🇧 Eastbourne SF #1 Preview (6) 🇩🇰 Caroline Wozniacki vs (wc) 🇬🇧 Heather Watson
Former Champion Caroline Wozniacki is again looking extremely tough to breakdown this week in Eastbourne, the Dane will come up against Heather Watson in Friday’s first semi-final at the Aegon International. Wozniacki is in great form this week having come past three solid opponents, most recently a three set win over world number 2, Simona Halep. Watson is also in great form, arguably playing the best tennis she has played all year and will enter this match with nothing to lose, making the Brit a potentially dangerous opponent.