Wimbledon.com's thoughts on the action on the third day of the Aegon Classic at the WTA event at Edgbaston Priory Club...
The dark clouds that gathered over the Edgbaston Priory Club did not just signal the impending rain showers. They also reflected the gloomy mood of the British tennis fans as all three remaining home representatives in the singles were knocked out in the second round of the Aegon Classic.
It was not unrealistic to expect two wins out of three for the British players, perhaps even three if some dared to dream, but Laura Robson, Heather Watson and Johanna Konta all fell to straight-set defeats.
Watson’s loss was perhaps the most disappointing of the three. The 21-year-old was a shadow of the bubbly individual who was bouncing around on court on Tuesday after claiming her first win since February. Instead, Watson looked lacklustre and frustrated as she was beaten 6-4 6-3 by Russian qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva, ranked 110 places below at No.172.
A double fault on match point down summed up the day for Watson, who was deeply disappointed despite this being just her third match back since recovering from glandular fever. “It was frustrating because I played well in my first match and I thought it was going to get even better but it was the total opposite” she said.
“I felt fine today. I just think I was a bit slow to the ball and slow thinking, which comes from not playing. I just need to get used to that. I thought today was a good opportunity and I feel like I’ve let it go. If I want to get back then I need to find a way even when I’m not playing so well.”
Having received a first-round bye as the seventh seed, Laura Robson faced a tough opening match against former world No.5 Daniela Hantuchova, now ranked No.60, and so it proved as the Slovakian produced a solid performance to win 6-3 6-4 against an opponent who struggled with her movement in her first match this year on the grass.
Birmingham was where Hantuchova, now aged 30, came 14 years ago to play her first event on the mainstream women’s tour and she made clear her aim this week as she moved one step closer to lifting the trophy here for the first time. “This was my first WTA tournament so it would mean the world for me to win here one day,” said Hantuchova.
For 19-year-old Robson, still in the early days of her career, she admitted that there is much work to be done before Wimbledon with Miles Maclagan, the former coach of Andy Murray who is working temporarily with her during the grass-court season, including sorting out the serve which has proven to be her Achilles heel this year.
"It takes time and a lot of hard work on the practice court,” said Robson. “We have done a lot of work on my serve. I just have to keep practising, stay confident and keep focusing."
British wild card Tara Moore had run Kristina Mladenovic close in the first round, giving hope that compatriot Johanna Konta could cause an upset against the twelfth seed, but there were no such issues for Mladenovic as she won 6-4 6-1.
Upset of the day came courtesy of Marina Erakovic who beat second seed Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 6-0, while 14 years after Mirjana Lucic-Baroni reached the Wimbledon semi-finals at the age of 17, the Croat rolled back the clock as she produced some of her best tennis to shock Yanina Wickmayer with a 6-4 6-0 win.
Despite the frustrating rain delays, there were no problems for Sabine Lisicki, Sorana Cirstea and Francesca Schiavone who all progressed in straight sets, but top seed Kirsten Flipkens was given a scare as she had to fight back from a set down to beat Croatian qualifier Alja Tomljanovic 4-6 6-4 7-5.
16-year-old Donna Vekic will attempt to continue her impressive run in Birmingham when she takes on qualifier Maria Sanchez in the third round on day four, while American prospect Madison Keys takes on the big-hitting Mona Barthel. Lisicki could face a tricky test against Lucic-Baroni, and Hantuchova against Mladenovic is also hotly anticipated.