One of the matches of the day in Eastbourne features the British wildcard Heather Watson and last year’s Eastbourne champion Dominika Cibulkova. Both players lost at the first time of asking at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham last week as Watson lost in a tight three-sets to No.2 seed Elina Svitolina, while Cibulkova lost from match point up against Lucie Safarova.
It is a daunting prospect to play any defending champion on a centre court of any tournament, but Watson will feel like this is a good time to play Cibulkova. The Slovakian has not been in the greatest of form, having lost to qualifier Antonia Lottner in s-Hertogenbosch before last week’s first round loss in Birmingham.
Watson, who is now No.126 in the world, made the final in Surbiton, so she definitely has got a great deal of competitive action on the grass this season already.
Watson already came through the first round here in Eastbourne where she beat Lesia Tsurenko, who had made the semi-final in s-Hertogenbosch. That was an extremely tight match that lasted nearly 3 hours in total.
Cibulkova is miles away from the match-winning machine that played inspired tennis at the Year Ending Championships to claim the Singapore title, so Watson may just fancy her chances of producing an upset on a surface she reacts well to.
Prediction: Watson in three sets
Naomi Broady [WC] vs Kristyna Pliskova H2H: Pliskova leads 3-1
Broady gained some much needed confidence in Manchester, learned some valuable lessons in her defeat to Petra Kvitova in Birmingham, who then went on to win the title, so Broady’s hopes of moving through a couple of rounds here are actually very realistic.
Kristyna Pliskovaslowly but surely is winning more matches on the WTA tour and can cause problems for her opponent with her left-handed serve out wide, which can be effective when swinging into Broady’s weaker backhand shot.
Broady excels when she earns free points from her first serve and sets up the next shot with her forehand. If she gets enough opportunities to use that serve and forehand combination then she really can win this match.
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