2021 Viking Open Nottingham

Brits set to sharpen grass court game

Johanna Konta

Konta and Watson seek to bounce back from stutters on WTA Tour

Johanna Konta, who bowed out of the French Open, is ready to kick-start her season with the grass court season at the Nottingham Tennis Centre.

The Eastbourne-based British no.1 begins her Wimbledon warm-up at the Nottingham Open that will also feature Guernsey’s Heather Watson, US veteran Venus Williams and Swiss Belinda Bencic.

Australian-born Konta, the no.19 seed at Roland Garros, made a 1st Round exit after being outwitted by Roumania’s wily Sorana Cirstea 7-6(5) 6-2. Having struggled on this year’s WTA Tour, it will no doubt be a welcome return to grass for former 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist Konta.

Compatriot Watson also fell in straight sets in France, defeated 6-4 7-5 by Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas. The 29-year-old last picked up a first WTA Tour-level victory at the Australian Open in February.

Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion, is set to make her debut at the Nottingham Open tournament but is she merely making up the numbers in the draw? It is at Doubles that the Florida-based icon is desperately trying to pick up world ranking points, in her bid to compete at this summer’s Olympics in Japan.

The 40-year-old 10-time Grand Slam winner, who partnered US compatriot Cori “Coco” Gauff in the Ladies Doubles at the French Open without success, needs to generate as many points on the WTA Tour to snatch a US Tennis Team Doubles berth the Tokyo Games.

Now ranked just outside the world’s top 100, Williams last captured a Singles title five years ago and realistically has no chance of adding to her 49 WTA Tour titles before she retires – which could be after the Olympic Games.

Belinda Bencic, a former world no.1 on the Junior circuit, was destined to make the transition to the Women’s Tour and although she soon breezed into the world’s top 10 she suffered from a severe wrist injury that required surgery followed by a stress fracture in her foot. Her dogged determination, which saw her finish 2019 as world no.8, earned her the accolade of the WTA Comeback Player of the Year.

The 24-year-old arrives from a shaky showing at Roland Garros, where her serves were so erratic that she was stunned out in the 2nd Round 6-2 6-2 by Russian Daria Kasatkina. The Swiss star’s game has never come up to scratch at the French Open, from her five appearances on the Paris red clay she has failed to progress past the 3rd Round.

Bencic became the first girl to win the Junior Singles titles at the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year, which she captured in 2013, since France’s former world no.1 Amelie Mauresmo in 1996. As Bencic thrives on fast surfaces she will be among the favourites to lift the crown on 13 June and add to her four WTA Tour titles.

Fans will be able to tune in to eight days of live coverage from the Women’s Nottingham Open event, with Centre Court matches shown daily on the BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport.

BBC coverage (BST)
Sunday 6 June (11.55am-5pm)
Monday 7 June (2.55pm-7pm)
Tuesday 8 June (11.55am-3pm)
Wednesday 9 June (2.55pm-7pm)
Thursday 10 June (11.55am-5pm)
Friday 11 June (2.55pm-7pm)
Saturday 12 June (11.55am-3pm)
Sunday 13 June (12.55pm-3pm)

🇬🇧 Heather Watson 🇬🇧 Johanna Konta
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