WTA Eastbourne: Simona Halep joins a stellar field at Aegon International

World number two Simona Halep had the best clay court season in 2017. The Romanian only lost three matches to Laura Siegemund, Elina Svitolina and to Jelena Ostapenko. Halep was the favorite to finally claim her first Grand Slam singles title at the French Open. Unfortunately, the 25-year-old was unable to win the French Open despite leading and a set to Ostapenko but the 20-year-old never gave up and won her first career title at Roland Garros.

Halep also missed out on a chance to claim the world number one ranking. Nonetheless, the 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist kickstarts her grass court campaign at the Premier-level Aegon International in Eastbourne. The Romanian accepted a wildcard, and she will be competing in Eastbourne for the first time in her career.

The Aegon Classic in Birmingham suffered plenty of withdrawals with world number one Angelique Kerber, world number three Karolina Pliskova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Ostapenko as the notable absentees along with Halep. Nevertheless, the big hitters are returning to the Aegon International with eight of the top ten players, looking for some last minute matches under their belt ahead of Wimbledon.

The world number two only trails Kerber by 115 points in the WTA Rankings, and she has a very good chance of usurping the world number one in Eastbourne or Wimbledon. "I am very much looking forward to playing in Eastbourne. The quality of the draw is very high so I'm hoping for some great matches to give me the best possible preparation ahead of Wimbledon."

Halep was unable to claim her first Grand Slam singles title at the French Open (Photo by Julian Finney / Getty)
Halep was unable to claim her first Grand Slam singles title at the French Open (Photo by Julian Finney / Getty)

The two-time French Open finalist has a good grass court pedigree as aforementioned she reached the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2014 losing to Eugenie Bouchard, and she advanced to the quarterfinals last year losing to Kerber.

The Tournament Director, Gavin Fletcher was pleased that another top ten player was joining the stellar field. "It's great to have another member of the top 10 fighting it out for this year's title. Simona is one of the most exciting players to emerge onto the WTA Tour in recent years and we look forward to watching her bring her classic counter-punching style to bear on Devonshire Park's grass courts."

The Aegon International is a joint event with the ATP World Tour, who are hosting a 250 level event. The tournament has attracted three-time Wimbledon champion, and former world number one Novak Djokovic, who has also accepted a wildcard in the men's singles draw along with Gael Monfils and two-time champion Feliciano Lopez.