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.