Viking Classic Birmingham 2021: British trio to headline day one as qualifiers come to a close
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British players Heather Watson, Harriet Dart and Fran Jones will all be in action on day one of this year’s Viking Classic Birmingham women’s grass court tournament. Watson will be up against talented Swiss Viktorija Golubic on the Ann Jones Centre Court, while Dart has a potentially difficult first round match against former WTA Top 10 player Caroline Garcia.
Jones will need all the support of the sell-out home crowd when she plays 2013 Viking Classic Birmingham runner-up Donna Vekic. Vekic, seeded seventh, is known for her grass court prowess.
2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur is one of two Grand Slam singles champions in the draw (along with 2017 Roland Garros winner Jelena Ostapenko) and will play her first match since January against Czech qualifier Thereza Martincova on Monday. Top seed Elise Mertens will also be in first round action, against another accomplished Australian in Ajla Tomjanovic.
Sunday saw the final round of qualifying completed and included a notable win for renown grass-court player Coco Vandeweghe, who fought her way to the main draw with a gutsy 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-4 win over Kateryna Kozlova. The American reached the last eight of Wimbledon in 2015 and 2017 and previously won two WTA titles on grass before being sidelined by injury.
“Last round of quallies is never easy and it’s the first time I’ve won back-to-back matches in a while so I’m happy to come out with the win,” said Vandeweghe. “Us players are always searching for more time on grass or on any surface that we don’t see a lot. Hopefully I’m not in qualifying rounds for much longer but I’ll take the extra matches; that’s what I need. I haven’t played on grass in three years and I need time to figure it out and remember how to play this game again.”
Vandeweghe and Stosur will also team up for doubles, as will Dart and Watson, who are one of three all-British teams in the doubles draw alongside Emily Webley-Smith and Sarah-Beth Grey and Tara Moore playing alongside Eden Silva. Yorkshire’s Naiktha Bains will play alongside Martincova. Mertens and former Viking Classic Birmingham doubles champion Su-Wei Hsieh are top seeds in a strong doubles draw and are ranked two and three respectively in the WTA world doubles rankings.