The rain heavily influenced the third day in a row at Aegon Classic in Birmingham. Again, all the matches suffered delays and interruptions, but almost all the first round matches had been successfully completed.
Today’s action saw the upset of first seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who lost for the first time in career to CoCo Vandeweghe, currently showing a great form on grass. Carla Suárez Navarro and Daria Gavrilova are among the players who advanced to second round. Belinda Bencic retired with a right thigh injury.
CoCo Vandeweghe upsets Radwanska, Suárez Navarro defeats Svitolina
Four matches had been reprised from yesterday, after the interruption due to rain.
Another rain delay had been fatal to Agnieszka Radwanska, as it already happened at Roland Garros. In Paris, she had suffered a comeback win from Tsvetana Pironkova, after the match had been interrupted while the Polish’s held the lead. Radwanska, who in Paris had been penalized by wrist problems too, was down a set to American CoCo Vandeweghe when the rain forced the players to leave the courts; nevertheless, she came back after the delay to win the second set, forcing the match into a decider.
This hadn’t been enough for Radwanska, as the American broke her serve while the first seed was serving from 5-all. Vandeweghe only needed to hold her following game to book her first career win against the Wimbledon finalist, who was leading the head-to-head from 4 wins to 0, all played on hard courts. Radwanska had returned to Birmingham this year for the first time since 2007, where she lost in the second round in her only previous appearance at the tournament.
With the first top-five win of her career, Vandeweghe confirmed her good season on grass, started last week when she won the title in s-Hertogenbosch for the second time in career.
The second match reprised from yesterday saw Carla Suárez Navarro of Spain keeping her advantage against Elina Svitolina to successfully book the victory. The players had left the court yesterday while the Spaniard was leading from 7-5, 4-6, 1-0 up. Today, they played the longest set of the match, lasted more than an hour, but eventually booked by Suárez Navarro with another 7-5 scoreline, granting her the access to the second round. The Spaniard is defending the quarterfinals reached in 2015, her second career’s best result on grass; the first one is currently the semifinal reached in s-Hertogenbosch in 2013.
Gavrilova and Paszek edge Britons to reach the second round
The rain delay had been helping Daria Gavrilova as well, who performed a comeback win against Naomi Broady from trailing 4-6, 4-2 down. Gavrilova won five games in a row to take the second set with a 6-2 scoreline and gain a 3-0 advantage in the third. Broady managed to hold two more games and to take the break back, but it hadn’t been enough as the Australian broke her serve again and successfully served out the match, winning the third set with a 6-3 scoreline. For Gavrilova, it had been the first career match played in Birmingham.
The last of the matches reprised from yesterday saw Tamira Paszek completing her comeback against wild card Tara Moore. After losing the first set to the British for 6-4, the Austrian qualifier had successfully booked the second with the same scoreline, and was trailing from 1-2 down in the third; however, she lost her serve right after the game reprised. She immediately broke back, and another break in the final game, in which she had four set points, eventually gave her the victory, with a final 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 scoreline.
The defeat has probably become less bitter for Moore since this morning had been announced that she will be awarded a wild card for the Wimbledon Championships. “I'm very grateful to the All England Club for awarding me one and to the LTA for putting me up as a suggestion”, Moore told the media, as reported by Aegon Classic’s website. “I think it's great that I have another opportunity to show how I've been playing this season. I do think I've played well enough to deserve one”.
Bencic retires, McHale wins. Wozniacki and Konta matches are delayed
Two more matches had been played today before the rain forced another stop.
After her run at Ricoh Open last week, where she lost in the semifinals to friend and former doubles partner Kristina Mladenovic, Belinda Bencic couldn’t improve her record in Birmingham, retiring in the first round while trailing from 4-6, 3-4 down to Irina-Camelia Begu. The Romanian, fresh from a satisfying campaign on clay, will try to keep the same form and achieve the same results on grass.
The Swiss rising star lost two crucial service games, one per set, before she retired for a right thigh injury. It’s not a good period for the 19-year old’s form, as she had already missed all the clay season after Charleston (where she lost in the first round). Today’s early exit wouldn’t damage Bencic’s ranking too much, as she only needed to defend the second round reached last year; however, it is crucial that she’ll regain her form for the upcoming Aegon International in Eastbourne, where she will need to defend the title she won in 2015.
For Begu this had been her first win in Birmingham, as she made her debut at the tournament in 2015, losing in the first round to Daniela Hantuchova.
Christina McHale and Katerina Siniakova starred the only match played from the beginning to the end today. In the battle between the two qualifiers, it had been the American who eventually prevailed, rallying from a set down to eventually win the match with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 scoreline. The match saw a struggle to gain control with the serve from both players and saw a total of 14 breaks of serve over the three sets, six of them in the final one.
McHale advanced to the second round on grass for the second time in a row; in Nottingham, she had defeated Magda Linette in the first round, but she lost to qualifier Tara Moore in the second.
Wozniacki’s match against eight seed Yanina Wickmayer had been interrupted after five games. The Danish had quickly gained a 3-0 advantage, but the Belgian had immediately won the break back and pulled the game back on serve.
Johanna Konta and Misaki Doi had been forced to leave the court before the start of their match.
Two of the doubles first round matches had been also played today. On Court 1, first seeds Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan won a straight set match against Kateryna Bondarenko and Olga Savchuk. On Court 2, Darija Jurak and Anastasia Rodionova upset third seeds Andrea Hlavachova and Lucie Safarova.
Even if another day of rain is expected for tomorrow in Birmingham, at least the singles first round schedule should be completed. All the singles second round matches are as well scheduled for tomorrow.
Ann Jones Centre Court will open with the match of Petra Kvitova and Jelena Ostapenko, followed by Johanna Konta and Misaki Doi; the third match of the day will see defending champion Angelique Kerber taking on Daria Gavrilova before Heather Watson challenges Barbora Strycova.
Court 1 will see the matches between Madison Keys and Tamira Paszek, followed by Caroline Wozniacki against Yanina Wickmayer. The third match will see Carla Suárez Navarro facing Andrea Petkovic. The American derby between CoCo Vandeweghe and Christina McHale will follow after.
The only singles match played on court 2 will see Irina-Camelia Begu taking on Tsvetana Pironkova. Court 2 and Court 3 will see the end of the first round doubles matches as well.
The winners of the matches starring Johanna Konta, Caroline Wozniacki, Misaki Doi and Yanina Wickmayer will be probably forced to play two matches in a day, since their second round match is scheduled as the last on Centre Court.