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15 - 23 June 2019

Nature Valley Classic

Edgbaston Priory Club

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Nature Valley Classic: Top seeds prepare to battle in Birmingham, Bains wins qualifying opener

  • 2019 WTA Premier logo
  • 15/06/2019

  • Major Events

Top seed Naomi Osaka faces a tough opener to her grass court season after being drawn to play world No.33 Maria Sakkari in the first round of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham, an LTA summer grass court event.

This year’s impressive line-up at the Edgbaston Priory Club has pitted a number of top players against each other as they open their campaigns for the famous Maud Watson Trophy. British No.1 Johanna Konta, fresh from her run to the Roland Garros semi-finals, will be up against talented Estonian Anett Kontaveit in what will be the Briton’s first match on grass this year.

Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty must contend with 2013 Nature Valley Classic finalist Donna Vekic in the first round. Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, playing in Birmingham for the first time in her long and illustrious career, takes on Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

GB Fed Cup teammates Harriet Dart and Heather Watson have been given wild cards into the 32-player singles draw. Dart has been drawn against Yulia Putintseva, while Watson will face a difficult task against experienced Czech and former Nature Valley Classic runner-up Barbora Strycova. 


Saturday saw the opening day of qualifying action as Great Britain’s Naiktha Bains scored a hard-earned victory over American Claire Liu. Bains, from Leeds, fought off a match point in the third set of her gritty 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(8) win over Liu, which ran late into the evening at the Edgbaston Priory Club.

“I actually lost my serve at 6-5 and went down in the tie-break early on so I had to just try and forget about that and all I could do was fight for every point and thankfully I managed to do that,” said Bains.

Polish teenager and qualifying top seed Iga Swiatek, who put together an impressive run at Roland Garros prior to stepping on the grass in Birmingham, was too strong for Italian Martina Trevisan in her opening qualifying match on Saturday. She will take on young Australian Destanee Aiava in round two on Sunday.

Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski, best known for her accomplishments in doubles, received a late call-up to the qualifying singles competition when Sachia Vickery withdrew through injury. Dabrowski beat Anastasia Potapova and earned herself a place in the second round of qualifying despite playing a match she had not expected to play.

“The adrenaline on the court was pumping like crazy and that was really helping me from the beginning of the match to show up and play straight away,” said Dabrowski. “I performed better than I thought. I haven’t played a singles match in a few weeks. I am thrilled. I really am.”

It was a disappointing day for the rest of the British players in what is an unusually strong qualifying draw in Birmingham this year. Wild cards Eden Silva, Tara Moore and Beth Grey were all overcome by much higher ranked opponents. 

Catch courtside action! 

Watch world class tennis in Birmingham and secure your tickets online today - tickets to qualifying on Sunday 16 June are £10 and tickets to main draw action (Monday 17 - Sunday 23 June) are available from £32 per adult (£12 for students and children under 16).  

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