The WTA Birmingham Classic kicks off in earnest on Monday. Eight matches will be played on the first day of the event and three of them feature home favourites. Among them are former British #1 Heather Watson and the inspirational Francesca Jones. The tournament serves as a great opportunity to prepare for Wimbledon for all the players involved. As ever, we take a look at who should advance in each round in our WTA Birmingham Day 1 Predictions. We also predict the rest of the day’s matches in a separate article.
WTA Birmingham Day 1 Predictions
Viktorija Golubic vs Heather Watson
Watson has failed to kick on so far in 2021 after a promising 2020 left many believing her career was back on an upward trajectory. She has won just four matches this year and is in desperate need of some form this week if she is to perform in her home major come the end of the month. Her opponent, Viktorija Golubic, has had a much better year by comparison. The Swiss has made good runs in Lyon and Monterrey and climbed back inside the top 100 on the back of those performances. Watson at her best likely has enough to take this match. However, she isn’t there at the moment nor is she close enough for me to think she wins anyway. Golubic has had the better year and I expect that to continue in Birmingham.
Prediction: Golubic in 3
Coco Vandeweghe vs Kristyna Pliskova
Coco Vandeweghe continues her attempts to resurrect her once promising tennis career with an appearance in the main draw in Birmingham. She did well to come through qualifying and faces what she will feel is a winnable match in the first round. Her opponent is Kristyna Pliskova, the lesser known of the Pliskova twins. The big-serving lefty is a formidable player on her day, but covers the court poorly and has no real weapons on the grass outside of her booming serve. If she serves well she will keep it tight and may even take the match. If not, I expect Vandeweghe’s superior arsenal and court coverage to be enough to see her into the next round.
Prediction: Vandeweghe in 2
Samantha Stosur vs Tereza Martincova
Samantha Stosur continues to appear on the WTA tour which is a testament to her love for the game. However, her best days are behind her and she faces an in-form Tereza Martincova in the first round here. The Czech has had a very good 2021 so far and has finally managed to creep inside the Top 100 in the world on the back of some strong showings this year. Stosur certainly has the game for grass and can give Martincova trouble if she brings her best. Still, the Czech is in better form and has more in her arsenal now than the Aussie does so I expect her to advance here.
Prediction: Martincova in 3
Francesca Jones vs Donna Vekic
This week should be something special for Francesca Jones. The young Brit – who’s story is already among the most inspirational in the history of the sport – gets to play in front of home crowds on the WTA tour for the second time in as many weeks. Jones is born in Leeds, so Birmingham is about as close to a hometown tournament as she can get and the support for her will surely be immense. She faces tough opposition in Donna Vekic however, and will start the match as a significant underdog. That being said, Vekic is short of wins and matches this year and is in desperate need of a good run. In fact, her match against Jones will be just her fourth since the end of her Australian Open run. The Czech is undoubtedly a talented player and probably a comfortable pick to win this match if she was in form and match fit. Given that she isn’t and that Jones has the crowd on her side, I can see an upset here so I am going to go with my gut and give Jones the win.
Prediction: Jones in 3
Main Photo from Getty.