WTA Birmingham: Safarova confirmed amongst big names

World number 15 and French Open finalist Lucie Safarova is to prepare for Wimbledon at the Aegon Classic, to be held in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Safarova is another big name to join the tournament, which is to be held from the 13-20th June.

Birmingham could be important for Safarova

Safarova has struggled in 2016 since returning from an illness which saw her miss the Australian Open, failing to win a single singles match so far, and may need to gain some confidence in Birmingham.

Furthermore, it seems unlikely that Safarova will defend her finalist points from the French Open last year, and may be looking for points to boost her seeding for Wimbledon.

However, she could well be a dangerous player in Birmingham. Safarova has had good results on grass, reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2014 and the fourth round the following year, and will be looking to bring some similar form as she aims for her seventh WTA title.

Safarova is looking for form (Getty/Mike Ehrmann)
Safarova is looking for form (Getty/Mike Ehrmann)

Kerber headlines further stars confirmed

Some other big names have already been confirmed for the tournament. These players are defending champion Angelique Kerber, former world number two Simona Halepand rising star Madison Keys. Kerber won the title by beating Karolina Pliskova in three sets year, and her progression since then means she’ll probably be the favorite for her title.

Halep hasn’t had the greatest start of 2016, and will see Birmingham as a chance to prepare for Wimbledon, where she lost in the first round last year. The Romanian will also be looking to improve on her result in Birmingham last year, after losing to Kristina Mladenovic in the quarterfinals last year.

Keys will be making her debut in Birmingham, and her powerful game, which fits grass courts perfectly, will make her a strong threat for the title. However, the American will need to improve on her shaky start to 2016 to have a strong run at the Aegon Classic.

All three women have had strong results on grass in the past. Kerber, alongside her title in Birmingham, is a two-time finalist at the Aegon International in Eastbourne and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2012, as well as the quarterfinals in 2014. Keys won her only career title at Eastbourne, beating Kerber, and reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last year, whilst Halep reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2014 and winning at s’Hertogenbosch in 2013.

Kerber with the title last year (Getty/Jan Kruger)
Kerber with the title last year (Getty/Jan Kruger)