WTA Eastbourne Second Round Preview: Petra Kvitova vs Timea Babos
Petra Kvitova returns to the Aegon International Eastbourne, having been forced to withdraw last year due to illness. Photo credit: Steve Bardens/Getty Images.

Both Petra Kvitova and Timea Babos were initially slated to play Monday, the first of two second round matches scheduled. A downpour at the Aegon International Eastbourne however resulted in the match being put off. Both women will now square off in the first match of the day in Eastbourne.

Lead-up

Kvitova reaches out for a forehand at the Aegon Classic Birmingham last week. Photo credit: Steve Bardens/Getty Images.
Kvitova reaches out for a forehand at the Aegon Classic Birmingham last week. Photo credit: Steve Bardens/Getty Images.

Stepping on her favourite surface grass, two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova looked to have finally get her season in full swing at the Aegon Classic Birmingham last week after a messy first half of 2016. However, despite a comprehensive win over Lucie Safarova in the first round, she came up to short to Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in her following match, going down to the teenager in three tight sets.

Definitely not the result she would have wanted to kick off her grass court season, the Czech has another shot at getting as many matches as possible this week in Eastbourne where she is seeded fifth. Moreover, another reason for the Czech to do well here would be due to the fact that she unfortunately had to withdraw at the last minute last year due to a sore throat.

Babos will be seeking her fourth top 20 victory of 2016 when she faces Kvitova. Photo credit: Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images.
Babos will be seeking her fourth top 20 victory of 2016 when she faces Kvitova. Photo credit: Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images.

In her opening match in Birmingham a week ago, Hungarian and world number 45 Babos met Madison Keys. Babos fell behind early but soon found her groove and gave it a real push but the American ultimately prevailed and went on to win the tournament.

Her results in 2016 prior to grass have been steady, marked by semifinal appearances in Shenzhen and Rabat and quarterfinal showings in St. Petersburg and Katowice. In bigger events, Babos made the round of 16 in Miami and Rome. On Sunday, she overcame another big-hitter in Italian Camila Giorgi. Her reward is a meeting with world number 11 Kvitova.

Head-to-head

The Kvitova-Babos head-to-head as displayed on WTA's website.
The Kvitova-Babos head-to-head as displayed on WTA's website.

This will be the first time both players face each other across the net.

Analysis

With one match under her belt here, Babos definitely has the advantage having had time to acclimatise to the conditions. Babos already scored a couple of huge wins this year, over Venus Williams in Rome, Karolina Pliskova in Miami and Sara Errani in Doha, all of whom were ranked inside the top 20 at that time.

Thus, the Hungarian has been in such a position before, this time against 11th-ranked Kvitova. The wins over Williams and Pliskova also demonstrate that she is able to come up to the challenge of the powerful players.

However, playing against Kvitova on grass is a whole different story. The Czech is two-time Wimbledon champion for a reason and will be determined go deep here and avoid another similar loss. She was runner-up here in 2011 and a quarterfinalist in 2014. In her other two appearances, she lost in the first and second rounds in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

Kvitova could get off to a slow a start. However, she should soon find her rhythm and use her experience to see off challenge put forth by the Hungarian, rack in her fifteenth win of 2016 and move into the round of 16.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova in three sets

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