Next Up: Birmingham & Nürnberg
Published June 08, 2013 12:00
BIRMINGHAM, England & NÜRNBERG, Germany - The first week of the grass court season sees one tournament held for the 32nd time and another for the first.
The Aegon Classic has been a staple of the series of events leading up to Wimbledon since 1982. And while its list of winners includes all-time greats Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Maria Sharapova, the 2012 champion was first-time WTA titlist Melanie Oudin.
A couple of other contenders have grass court success in their past. Second-seeded Ekaterina Makarova's lone WTA title came on grass at Eastbourne in 2010. Fifth-seeded Sabine Lisicki won Birmingham in 2011, which preceded her run to the Wimbledon semifinals.
The local fans' hopes for Birmingham's first British champ would seem to lie with No.7 seed Laura Robson. Though she is coming off a French Open first round loss, she is still the highest-ranked Brit.
The last two Aegon Classic winners were unseeded, though, so the player who will lift the Maud Watson Trophy on Birmingham's new center court on championship Sunday is anyone's guess.
Meanwhile, Nürnberg's inaugural staging makes it the only German city besides Stuttgart on the WTA calendar. Serving as an opportunity for those who want to compete one more week on clay before making the transition to grass, the favorite and No.1 seed there is Jelena Jankovic. She is fresh off a quarterfinal run at the French Open, and six of her 13 WTA titles have come on the dirt.
Other players to keep an eye on include Alizé Cornet, German hopeful Julia Goerges, Simona Halep and Anabel Medina Garrigues. All three of Cornet's WTA titles have come on clay, including Strasbourg just last month. Both of Goerges' WTA titles have come on clay. All of Halep's WTA runner-up and semifinal showings have come on clay. And Medina Garrigues is the WTA's active leader in clay court titles, with 10.