It’s one last jaunt on the hard courts before what looks like a busy clay season for Strycova, the dramatic Czech who always plays with her heart on her sleeve. She started the year quite well, with the quarter-final in her season opener in Auckland, the Sydney semi-final and then the fourth round of the Australian Open, but she has gone off the boil a little in the spring, not really impressing in the Middle East or in the US Indian Wells and Miami double.
Starting with a qualifier, she will meet either Carina Witthoeft (who last beat her back in the lower stages of the tour) or wild-card and home crowd favourite Belinda Bencic. The Swiss has not had an easy ride at all this year struggling with injury and form, even dropping down to an ITF lower tier event to pick up some match confidence after four straight first round defeats.
However the quarter-finals could pitch up Julia Goerges who could be a challenge – she had a good run in Budapest but an average spring in the US. expect her to maybe be more of a challenge when the clay court season starts.
It was a welcome return from an injury-marred start of the year for Suárez Navarro. With no back-to-back wins until she hit Monterrey , it had been a downward slide in the rankings for the popular Spaniard. She looked in impressive form in Mexico, breezing through the rounds not dropping a set until she hit Angelique Kerber.
She put up a good fight against the World No. 1 in the first set but fell away – probably to be expected after her first deep run. She looks set to reach WTA Charleston semi-finalist Laura Siegemund in the quarter-finals.
Babos will be hotfooting it from Monterrey where she reached the quarter-final. She could meet Britain’s Heather Watson in the second round. The Brit acquitted herself well against top seed Kerber but that was where her title defence ended and she heads to Biel before trying to start her climb back up the rankings once more.. Babos’ likely quarter-finalist could be Monica Niculescu. Though she trails the Romanian in their head to head, the last two wins have gone Babos’ way.
Vinci ought to feel comfortable about getting past Kristyna Pliskova in her opener, has (albeit slim) losing records against both her prospective second round opponents, but if she gets through that she has a strong enough record against her possible quarter-final foe in Alizé Cornetto hope for a good run her.
The Ladies Open Biel Bienne takes place between 10-16 April (BST -1 hours).
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