?? Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham R1 Preview
?? (4) Petra Kvitova vs. ?? Johanna Konta
The pick of the opening round matches at the 2018 Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham sees defending champion: Petra Kvitova take on Britain’s number 1: Johanna Konta. This is a tough match for Kvitova to start her title defense in Birmingham, Konta brings good form into this event having reached the final in Nottingham last week. This should be an exciting encounter between two players that excel on the grass, who will prevail?
It was in Birmingham 12 months ago where Kvitova won her first title after that terrible home invasion incident. Petra has not looked back since then, the 2-time Wimbledon champion sits at number 3 in the Race to Singapore standings and looms as one of the favourites at SW19 in a few weeks’ time. This will be Kvitova’s first event on grass in 2018, her first event since a disappointing third round exit at Roland Garros having won back-to-back titles in the lead-up to Paris.
Johanna Konta arrives in Birmingham fresh off disappointment in the Nottingham final for a second year in a row. Konta was once again beaten in a close final in Nottingham, beaten by Ashleigh Barty in 3 sets. Nevertheless, it was still a good week for Konta given it was her first final of 2018 and she was able to get some good wins under her belt. There was an incident with the umpire late in the third set which seemed to ultimately derail Konta, it will be interesting to see how she recovers in Birmingham just a few days later.
Kvitova holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Konta. The most recent match between the pair took place in Wuhan in 2016, Kvitova won that match 6-3 6-4. It was Konta who their only previous match on a grass court, a 5-7 6-4 6-0 victory in Eastbourne in 2016.