Viking Classic Birmingham 2021: Dart, Watson and Jones face tough opening draws
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This year’s Viking Classic Birmingham main draw will see Britons Harriet Dart, Heather Watson and Fran Jones take on some of the world’s best female players at the the Edgbaston Priory Club.
All three British women face tough opening rounds, with Dart drawn to play former top ten player Caroline Garcia, Watson up against experienced Swiss Viktorija Golubic and Jones taking on former Viking Classic Birmingham runner-up Donna Vekic.
Jones received a wildcard into the main draw when Katie Boulter was forced to withdraw from the tournament with the right elbow injury which also forced her out of this week's Viking Open Nottingham.
Dart and Jones are all part of the LTA Pro Scholarship Programme (PSP) which is the highest level of coaching, medical and financial support offered to developing players by the national governing body.
Other notable first round matches in prospect include top seed Elise Mertens up against dangerous Australian Ajla Tomjanovic and fourth seed Daria Kasatkina playing Palona Hercog. This week’s Viking Open Nottingham semi-finalist Lauren Davis could prove tricky for former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko, seeded seventh.
Kristina Mladenovic, who has graced the WTA singles top 20 and is a multiple Grand Slam champion in doubles, faces an all-French battle with Fiona Ferro. Australian wildcard and former US Open champion Samantha Stosur will meet a qualifier.
Qualifying got underway on Saturday, with two British players scoring wins early on. Eden Silva beat Australian Astra Sharma 6-2 7-6(2) and Naiktha Bains overcame Ingrid Neel of the US 6-4 7-6(3). Former Grand Slam semi-finalist Coco Vandeweghe, arguably the most accomplished grass court player in the qualifying draw, was too strong for Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski.
“It’s the best feeling to back here,” said Bains after her match. “I’ve had the best support here in the past so I’m super happy. It was a good match and Ingrid played well and it’s always nice playing on a centre court, especially on grass.”
Silva said: “It was a great match. I think I started off really well. I had a good week in Nottingham last week, qualifying and getting main draw, so I had a couple of good matches under my belt going into this match. I knew I was the underdog so I just had to fight and try my best.”
Read the full main draw here.