It’s a pretty stacked draw for a WTA 250 event at the Birmingham Classic this week. The top eight seeds are all in the Top 50 in the world, including players like Jelena Ostapenko, Simona Halep, Camila Giorgi, and Elise Mertens. There are no byes in the draw of 32 so it’s going to be tough whoever emerges victorious. We’re predicting a few of the matches on Day 1, including an enticing match-up between Simona Halep and Lesia Tsurenko. We also look at the day’s other matches in a separate article.
WTA Birmingham Classic Day 1 Predictions
Lauren Davis vs Kaja Juvan
Head to head: First meeting.
One of those names that’s popping up more and more frequently, Kaja Juvan is not a player to be trifled with. The 21-year-old is quickly on the rise–she made a blistering run to the Strasbourg final before the French Open (remember that epic with Angelique Kerber?) and even though she’s lost early in tournaments throughout the year, she’s rarely lost to somebody playing below their best.
Meanwhile, Lauren Davis is plugging away on the tour, trying to find something close to the form that took her to #26 in the world five years ago. While she prides herself on making life difficult for her opponent, it has been incredibly difficult for her to make deep runs at tournaments when she’s getting no free points herself. There’s no doubt Davis could make Juvan’s life tough but we think the Slovak will eventually have too many options for her on the quick courts of Birmingham.
Prediction: Juvan in 3
Harriet Dart vs Camila Osorio Serrano
Head to head: Osorio Serrano 1-0 Dart.
Camila Osorio Serrano is about as steady as they come. In conditions like these however, steady won’t make the difference. We talk about players with underpowered serves being at a disadvantage on grass–Osorio Serrano’s is as a weak a serve as any other within the Top 50.
This will almost certainly give Harriet Dart a chance to take the match by the scruff of the neck. After saving match points against Camila Giorgi last week in Nottingham, she could be feeling more confident than ever. We therefore think she’ll jump at the chance to beat a Top 50 player on a surface she’s practiced on in her home country.
Prediction: Dart in 2
Elena-Gabriela Ruse vs Wang Qiang
Head to head: First meeting.
Though Elena-Gabriela Ruse’s game is tailor-made for clay-court tennis, if she’s fit and healthy, we don’t see her coming out without putting up a hardy fight regardless of the conditions. Pay no attention to her match losing streak – Ruse is always up for a battle.
On the other side of the net however will be Wang Qiang. Wang has quietly been putting together results under the tour’s radar as she slowly looks to build her ranking back up to close to her career-high of #12 in the world. Ten top-150 wins is nothing to be scoffed at – this sort of consistency could prove too much for Ruse who will fight but should be blown away by Wang’s easy power from the ground.
Prediction: Wang in 2
Simona Halep vs Lesia Tsurenko
Head to head: Halep 8-0 Tsurenko.
Lesia Tsurenko has been winning a lot of matches. She’s 43-14 at tour and tour–qualifying level since the beginning of 2021… Notice the inclusion tour-qualifying. Tsurenko is playing fantastically against players who fail to capitalise on her serve but is getting found out against the better returners on tour. First-rounds losses to Ash Barty and Iga Swiatek at the Australian Open and French Open, respectively, come to mind as she struggled to win service points let alone service games. Breaking down her record from the start of 2021 onwards…
- Vs players outside the top-100: 38-9
- Vs top-100 players: 5-15
Unfortunately Simona Halep is just about in the same league as Ash Barty and Iga Swiatek on return. It’s going to be an uphill battle from the first ball–we see no reason why Halep shouldn’t play a decent level which should be too much to handle for the Ukranian.
Prediction: Halep in 2
Main Photo from Getty.