WTA Tour: Eastbourne Invitational Selected Round of 32 Matches Preview

Tennis player holds racquet

We take a look at selected round of 32 matches from the WTA Tour's Eastbourne Invitational. 

Dominika Cibulkova 33/20 | Angelique Kerber 4/10
Dominkia Cibulkova beat Makarova in her opening match and is looking to make a further impression against Angelique Kerber this week. Cibulkova clearly has an established grass-court pedigree. The 28-year-old was the champion here in 2016, the same year that saw her win the WTA Championships. She also has two quarterfinal showings at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2016. So, this surface clearly suits her. She has enjoyed a patchy year that started with a quarterfinal showing in Sydney. She has managed to make two finals this year, losing in Strasbourg and Hungary. She lost her first-round match against Gavrilova last week in Birmingham and she will be looking to really ramp up her Wimbledon preparations this week.

Angelique Kerber’s season has been the epitome of metronomic. She started the year with victory in Sydney before a heartbreaking semi-final loss to Halep in Melbourne. Since then she has only reached one other semi-final: she reached the semi-finals in Dubai. Add to that five other quarterfinal appearances and you get a sense of the consistency and frustration of her season thus far. Kerber is an all-court specialist who has had reasonable success on grass. The 2016 losing Wimbledon finalist won the 2015 edition of the Birmingham Classic. She is also a two-time beaten finalist in this very event (2012 and 2014). So, what you have is a contest between two highly adept grass-court players with great court familiarity.

That’s not where the familiarity ends. This will be the 12th meeting between the two players, with Kerber holding a slender 6-5 head-to-head advantage. Kerber won their last meeting in Sydney earlier this season and this will be the first time the two have met on grass. Cibulkova looks good value at 33/20 considering her grass-court pedigree.

Kristina Mladenovic 22/10 | Ashleigh Barty 3/10 
The mercurial Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic is certainly one of the more active players on the WTA Tour. She beat Heather Watson in the opening match here while she lost to Rybarikova in her second match at the Birmingham Classic. She has had a fairly innocuous year, reaching the Final in St Petersburg in defence of the title that she won last year. She also managed a quarterfinal appearance in Mexico while she claimed a decent Round of 16 run in Madrid. Mladenovic should be suited to grass giving her height and physical attributes, but the inconsistent performer finds it hard to string consistent matches together.

Ashleigh Barty has emerged as something of a sleeper option heading into Wimbledon this year. The Aussie started the year well with a defeat in the final in Sydney. She then made the last 32 in Melbourne before a creditable round of 16 outing in Miami. She was forced to retire in the semi-finals in Strasbourg, while her French Open exit was certainly not disgraceful, bowing out after a gruelling three-setter against Serena Williams. She then went on to win the crown in Nottingham, beating the likes of Johanna Konta and Naomi Osaka on the way. She lost to Gorges in Birmingham last week, but it does seem as if Barty is one of the dark horses on this year’s grass-court circuit.

This will be the first time the two have played and I can’t see anything else except for an easy win for the Aussie. 3/10 may not seem like the greatest price, but this should be as close as a sure thing you are going to get outside of Rafa at Roland Garros. 

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Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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