It had been a scorching day in Birmingham but by the time Naomi Broady took to the court last on Monday, clouds were rolling in initially providing much respite from the sun, but also threatening rain-drops, as she took on France’s Alizé Cornet.
On a day that had seen a long three setter start the day’s proceedings, the first three games took 20 minutes, but despite going down a quick break, British No. 2 Broady kept her cool, breaking back a couple of games later with neither player getting sniff of a break point until the tie-break.
Broady soon ran away with the tie-break to get an early advantage. The softer surface started to cause problems for the Frenchwoman, who had a slip that might have had her rattled, along with trying to plead for bad light.
It certainly counts as one of Broady’s best wins, as she explained: “It was all about my game and my serve and me being aggressive and not having to get into rallies with my opponent. I was really trying to mix the ball up a lot today, use my slice and then hit the next ball like as hard as I could, just keep mixing the pace up, not give her any rhythm. Because Alizé is a great mover, she’s a very consistent player, so I knew if I played with a lot of rhythm, I was playing into the way she wants to play. So I was just trying to stay as far away from her game style as I could.”
With people tweeting that they had felt a few raindrops, Broady had to move in for the finish, especially having built up a double-break cushion.
“I think until 5-0 it was still a really close match until 4-0, and I was obviously serving really well and that was helping me keep my lead in the set. I served a good game to go 5-0 up. And in the last game I’m not sure how much she wanted to still be on the court, but I couldn’t hit it in. So I was like, just hit it in, Naomi. I don’t think anybody wants to be here. So I finally managed to do that and won the match.”
We all think that Broady’s powerful serve and forehand combination is a perfect fit for the grass, but it was surprising to hear that their relationship… well it is best to call it ‘complicated’, as she explained:
“I actually had my first practice in Surbiton with Rybarikova, who is obviously having a great grass season, and got whooped by her, and so I said, I hate grass; I don’t know why people think I like this surface. And didn’t win a match last year, I’m obviously not going to win one this year. But now I like it again. We’ve made friends. (Smiling).
“I don’t think I enjoy it as much as people expect me to because the balls bounce so low, and obviously for a very tall person that’s not easy to do. But when I’m serving well, I get a lot of free points. I think my slice is actually more effective than my powerful shots on the grass as well. Yeah, there’s pros and cons to it. It’s tough to move on grass as well. It’s much harder than a hard court.
“Hard court is my favourite surface definitely followed by grass, followed by clay. Clay is still not my favourite.”
Elina Svitolina  def. Heather Watson [WC] 6-2 5-7 6-3
Despite pulling World No. 5 Elina Svitolina to a three setter once more in their rivalry, it was a just a single break in the deciding set in the end that did for Heather Watson, as she looked to build on her strong week on the lower tier in Surbiton. She had a tight loss in Nottingham in the opening round again the No. 4 seed there, Alison Riske, and was unlucky to draw the No. 2 seed Elina Svitolina here.
Watson said, after her match: “It was a tough draw going in. Elina is a great player. She is very consistent with her game but also with her results. And we’ve played quite a few times before, I think four times now, and all of them have been three sets and long battles.
“Today I thought we both played very well and served very well. I’d say especially in that first set I just felt that I had a lot of opportunities that I wasn’t able to take, which I got very frustrated with, but just kept fighting in that second set.
“In the third it was just one break. But I’m very pleased with how I’m hitting the ball. I just want to be more consistent and not give away too many free points.”
There was real joy however at the prospect of hanging around a little longer as she rejoins Broady in the doubles. The little and large pairing had some success last year and won the ITF tournament in Trnava this year.
She continued: “We’re so close with each other and she’s one of my best friends, and on the court I just feel so comfortable with her and her with me. And when you play with somebody you don’t know, you’re quite polite, and good shot. (Smiling).
“With us two it’s just completely brutally honest, but neither of us care because we’re supporting each other. And yeah, I really do love being on the doubles court with Naomi. So I’m pleased to be back.”
Broady will meet the winner of Tuesday’s match between Petra Kvitova and Tereza Smitkova.
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