Qualifying begins: 26 June
The Draw: 30 June
Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July
Order of Play: 2 July
Championships begin: 3 July
COME BACK FOR LIVE SCORES & LIVE BLOG FROM 26 JUNE
It wasn't the best of days for British tennis fans out on the grass courts at the Aegon Open Nottingham, as Heather Watson, Laura Robson and Naomi Broady all suffered early defeats.
Watson was looking to join Johanna Konta in the second round but headed out to face the towering Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova feeling underprepared.
“In tennis terms there weren’t many positives today. I never felt comfortable throughout the match. Coming into the tournament I didn’t have the preparation I wanted and I had an abdominal tear after Roland Garros so I only had four days practice for the tournament,” revealed the British No.2.
“I was actually pleased with the way I served, that was an area of my game I was happy with. I’m just pleased I didn’t feel my ab at all today because I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to play, but I definitely need a lot more practice on the grass.”
Watson managed to haul back a 2-0 deficit in the opening set against the powerful world No.90 and restored parity with a beautifully looping lob. A forehand pass on the run was the catalyst as Watson secured the telling break at 5-4.
However Rybarikova was undeterred and utilising her extensive power, took the second set to love in a flash.
I definitely need a lot more practice on the grass
“I was pleased how I came back in that first set,” said Watson, “But I thought she served very well and the balls she was giving me weren’t giving me any rhythm, it was tough, there were short ones, high, then fast. I thought she played very smart tennis.”
That smart tennis had Watson covering the breadth of the court as the Slovakian chalked up a vital break in the decider for 2-1. Watson fought valiantly to keep up the pressure but Rybarikova managed to stave off four break points at 4-3, by chasing down a lob and cutting some acute angled drop shots to then march into round two with a 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 victory.
Robson arrived back in Nottingham buoyed by a return to her favourite surface but couldn’t find the answers facing an inspired performance from Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito.
Five consecutive breaks marked the opening set but it was Larcher de Brito who was able to tease the errors from Robson and build on an early advantage on route to closing out a 6-3 opener.
“I definitely feel I should have won the second set after being 4-1 up but then playing some sloppy tennis to go 4-3. It was really disappointing, I just gave her too many opportunities and missed too many first balls. It’s not been a great day,” declared the 22-year-old.
“I had started to play more consistent tennis (second set) to go 4-1 and wasn’t giving away so many freebies but played a very, very quick game to go 4-2, which I think disrupted my rhythm on my serve. I should have been more aware in that moment what was happening but I let it get away from me.”
Having relinquished her second-set lead, Robson was hustled back to 5-5 and the Portuguese capitalised on the home favourite’s 55 per cent first serve percentage to snatch a sixth and telling break on route to a 6-3, 7-5 triumph
“I could really do with some wins,” admitted Robson. “That would certainly boost my confidence.
“It’s not something like technique, it’s more match rhythm and getting used to momentum shifts and not letting them last too long, which is what happened today. You see the top players, what they do so well is they have a couple of bad points but then they’re right back on it.”
Heading to Birmingham and Eastbourne, Robson is glad to be playing pain free following two seasons blighted by wrist troubles and targets more matches under her belt.
“I played two matches today, we had quite a long doubles and I feel fine. I’m going to get back on the practice court tomorrow with no physical problems which is quite nice to prepare for the rest of the grass season the best I can.”
Broady is also determined to quickly bounce back from her opening round defeat in Nottingham.
The British No.3 struggled to cope with “awkward” spins and slices that skidded across the grass from world No.72 Su-Wei Hsieh in a 6-2, 6-1 loss.
"I knew it was going to be a tough match. Su-Wei's game style is quite suited to grass as is mine. She has got a lot of match confidence at the moment. I didn't serve my best but it is also my first match on grass and my first match in the clay season was a similar score and it improved after that - hopefully my grass season will head in the same direction,” said Broady.
"Her gamestyle, I find, is rather awkward. Her ball stays so low and obviously I'm tall so that makes it more difficult than usual to get down and get underneath her shots. She wasn't effected much by my pace either, she actually quite enjoys the ball really hard to her. The game style match up was not on my side.
There was better news for British fans after Tara Moore secured just a second career tour-level win by prevailing 6-2, 7-5 over Croatia’s Donna Vekic.
"It was really good. I played some good tennis out there. Donna is a tough opponent, I played her last week and I am really happy to get the win.”
The British No.4 hopes a strong run in Nottingham can earn a Wimbledon wildcard at the end of the month
"As far as the next few weeks go, I'm not sure yet,” added Moore. "I have put in a request but it's not my decision."
The former world No.1 faced Cagla Buyukakcay on centre court, who had recently carved out her own piece of history. The world No.77 became the first Turkish woman to capture a WTA title at home in Istanbul last month and then the first to win a Grand Slam match at the French Open.
Two-time US Open finalist Wozniacki set the tone with a magnificently crafted lob winner in the first point but Buyukakcay was resolute and survived unscathed from an eight-minute opener.
The pair became embroiled in a series of demanding all court rallies and exchanged breaks before heading to 5-5.
Wozniacki pounced with an acute backhand passing shot dipping onto her opponent’s toes leading to a break for 6-5 and the world No.34 served out the set at the second time of asking with aplomb.
Third seed Caroline Wozniacki has found the silver lining following a 10-week absence from the tour with an ankle injury.
“Yeh it feels pretty good, it’s a positive frame of mind I’m in at the moment,” said the Dane.
“You always try to find a silver lining. It was 10 weeks at home working hard, trying to get back in good form, good fitness but it feels a lot different to play a match than practice, so you feel a little sore after a match like today but in the end it’s a good day and I get to play another one tomorrow.”
Utilising a finely tuned serve, finishing on 79% first serve percentage, Wozniacki was able to mount the pressure onto the Turk’s shoulders and rapidly raced to a 5-1 advantage.
Buyukakcay cut the deficit but Wozniacki soon powered to a maiden Nottingham victory 7-5, 6-3 and was delighted with her sharp display returning to the tour.
“Yeh, it’s nice to be back. It felt nice to be back on court and there are always things I’d like to do better but all in all after so many weeks out it was great,” reflected the 25-year-old.
“You feel a bit rusty out there but at the same time it could have been a lot worse. I’m pleased with the result and the way I fought. On the grass it’s important to serve well but I think In general I moved well, hit my targets pretty well and I got a lot of returns back. All positive things.”
Refreshed and accustomed to the Nottingham grass, Wozniacki next takes on world No.97 Anett Kontaveit, who dispatched American Lauren Davis 6-3, 6-1.
“I’ve never played her before but she’s a big hitter so obviously grass suits her,” added Wozniacki. “But I’m going to make the most of it and enjoy another match out here.”