Ana Ivanovic, Samantha Stosur and Sloane Stephens head up a strong line-up at the grass court season's curtain raiser, the Aegon Classic.
WTA Staff

BIRMINGHAM, England - Ana Ivanovic had been hoping to spend Friday night in Paris preparing for the French Open final. Instead, she found herself in the unfamiliar surroundings of Edgbaston Cricket Ground, entertaining the crowd alongside Donna Vekic during the interval of Warwickshire's T20 match with Durham.

Next week, Ivanovic will be showcasing her talents half a mile up the road in the more familiar setting of the Edgbaston Priory Club. The Serb is top seed at the curtain raiser for the grass court season, the Aegon Classic, where she will be attempting to bounce back from a disappointing third round loss to Lucie Safarova at the French Open.

That result was a rare blip in what has been an otherwise excellent 2014, which has already brought Ivanovic two WTA tournament victories and a number of deep runs elsewhere. On her last visit to Birmingham, in 2011, Ivanovic reached the semifinals, and, after a first round bye, she will begin this time around against either Mona Barthel or Ajla Tomljanovic.

Should she reach the last four again - no certainty given the unpredictable nature of grass court tennis - Ivanovic is due to meet No.3 seed Sloane Stephens, who is joined in the top half by among others Klara Koukalova and former champion Magdalena Rybarikova

In the bottom half, Samantha Stosur leads the way, with Kirsten Flipkens, Safarova and defending champion Daniela Hantuchova keeping her company. In the second round, Hantuchova could come up against her victim in last year's final, Vekic, who meets fellow teenager Belinda Bencic on Monday.

"It will be a very interesting match because we are the two youngest players in the Top 100," Vekic said. "I'm really looking forward to playing her. I know it will be a tough match."