?? 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.