British women’s tennis is in fine fettle, with Johanna Konta continuing to make huge strides and winding up now just outside the Top 20, focus shifts to the British Nos. 2 and 3.
Heather Watson v Kristyna Pliskova – H2H: Watson leads 1-0
Watson has had a much needed resurgence with winning a third WTA Tour level title in Monterrey, and although she exited Indian Wells early, failing to defend her fourth round points from the year before, she ran to the fourth round in Miami, giving her a nice boost back up the rankings to just outside the Top 50.
With a career high ranking of 38 (January 2015) still a way off, Watson will kick off her campaign in Katowice against Kristyna Pliskova, who has split her time this season between ITF level events and tour events, but she too is having a bit of a boost, picking up three main draw rounds after qualifying in Miami.
Normally at this stage we saw ‘on paper’ but Pliskova has a similar hard hitting style to her more successful twin, so Watson will need to be very sharp on her returns. Pliskova could be vulnerable on her movement, and Watson’s court coverage is stronger, and will need to move her around the court.
The task for Broady to catch up to Watson may be a little harder. Then again the last time the pair played was four years ago, and since then Broady’s confidence has grown with some great wins this year, starting with the quarter-final in Auckland at the start of the season, an ITF title in the States and the semi-final of WTA Kuala Lumpur which helped catapult her to a new career high but she is in need of some back to back wins.
Knapp had to pull out of all the post US Open events last year with a right knee injury, only returning to the tour for the Miami Masters, where she fell in the first round.
There is a chance for Broady to strike out here, and both times she has played Knapp she has taken the first set, before the Italian fought back to take the matches in three sets. Experience may well help Knapp stay in touch with Broady, but we can expect her to be rusty, and if Broady can keep calm, she could mount the charge towards Watson, or at any right higher up the rankings.
Prediction: Broady in three sets.
Watson is first off the mark, scheduled on Centre Court Spodek, not before 6:30pm (5:30pm BST).
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