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13 - 21 June 2020

Nature Valley Classic

Edgbaston Priory Club, Birmingham

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Nature Valley Classic – 13 - 21 June 2020

Nature Valley Classic: Konta kickstarts grass court season with straight sets victory

  • 2019 WTA International logo
  • 17/06/2019

  • Major Events

British No.1 Johanna Konta kickstarted her grass court season with a straight sets victory in the opening round of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham. 

“I wouldn't say like I'm fully adapted by any means,” said Konta, who eased past talented Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-4 6-2. “But I think that will come with time and come with matches, but it's a step in the right direction. It was nice to get some court time on the grass because the girls that maybe have had more time maybe haven't played as much on the grass because the weather hasn't been too kind, so the fact to be able to play on the grass and play a match, I’m just really happy with that.”

Konta plays her next match on Wednesday against either former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko or Polish qualifier Iga Swiatek. 

She was joined in the second round by world No.3 Karolina Pliskova, who proved too strong for Mihaela Buznarescu.

For the first time in the 38-year history of the Nature Valley Classic, the top three players in the world are competing, with top two seeds Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty battling for the world No.1 ranking. Osaka, who won last year’s US Open and this year’s Australian Open, currently holds the top ranking but needs a strong showing this week in Birmingham to hold off the challenge from Barty.

Both women take to the grass courts on Tuesday, with Osaka playing talented Greek Maria Sakkari before Barty takes on Donna Vekic. Vekic will present a significant challenge, having shown her grass court prowess with her run to last week’s Nature Valley Open final in Nottingham. Venus Williams also begins her singles campaign and will take on Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round on Tuesday.

Guernsey’s Heather Watson was outlasted 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 by Barbora Strycova, despite putting up a determined challenge against the experienced Czech. 

In doubles, Harriet Dart said she felt honoured to share the court with Williams, despite the pair losing their first round doubles match to the accomplished pairing of Abigail Spears and Nadiia Kichenkok. “I was a little bit nervous but it was such an amazing experience and something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life,” said Dart. “It’s great to learn from someone like her; she’s just an incredible champion.”

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