Welcome to Memory Lawn, where wtatennis.com will take a look back at some of the most memorable matches from recent grass-court seasons. First up, we revisit classics from the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham, a city which returned to the WTA Tour calendar in 2015 and has since played host to stars such as Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka and Donna Vekic.
2015 final: Ana Konjuh def. Monica Niculescu 1-6, 6-4, 6-2
Kicking off a sea change in the grass season, 17-year-old Ana Konjuh ushered in a major milestone for a new generation with her run to her maiden title at the Aegon Open. It was the inaugural edition of a tournament upgraded from its previous ITF $50,000 level due to an expansion of the grass calendar between Roland Garros and Wimbledon to three weeks - and over its first week had certainly begun with a bang.
Particularly dramatic highlights had included qualifier Sachia Vickery saving six match points to shock No.2 seed Zarina Diyas in the second round, and fellow American Lauren Davis fending off an astonishing eight match points against Magda Linette to win 5-7, 7-6(13), 6-2 at the same stage. Wildcard Johanna Konta's 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) second-round victory over Monica Puig was a harbinger of the Briton's sudden surge over coming months, while Monica Niculescu's 5-7, 6-4, 6-0 upset of No.1 seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the semifinals was a connoisseur's delight of slice and finesse.
In the final, Niculescu would face her polar opposite. World No.87 Konjuh, just 18 months on from her WTA debut, had brutally pummelled her way through the bottom half of the draw without dropping a set, taking down experienced grass-courters such as No.6 seed Casey Dellacqua and No.5 seed Alison Riske. The Croat had already established herself as one of the leaders of the 'Class of 1997' generation - a cohort that also comprised Belinda Bencic, Naomi Osaka, Jelena Ostapenko and Daria Kasatkina - but this week, she became the first of them to lift a WTA trophy.
Gallery: The Class of 1997's Tour takeover
The final was a showcase not only of Konjuh's strength but her ability to adjust to one of the trickiest players on the circuit. Initially ensnared in Niculescu's web, what was even more impressive than the known power of the teenager's serve and groundstrokes was the way in which she extricated herself from trouble, targeting the Niculescu backhand to avoid the Romanian's devilish forehand slice and proving herself adept at careful touch shots as well.
Konjuh's peers have since gone on to great things, with all four fellow 1997-born talents reaching the Top 10 and both Osaka and Ostapenko becoming Grand Slam champions. But she has been unfortunately, injuries have derailed her own career: since reaching the 2016 US Open quarterfinals and a career high of World No.20, surgeries on each of her elbows have largely sidelined her. Since the 2017 US Open, Konjuh has managed to compete in just six tournaments and currently has no timeframe for a potential return - but this tournament continues to be a reminder of what she might be able to achieve if her body permits.
2016 quarterfinal:  Karolina Pliskova def. [Q] Ashleigh Barty 7-6(2), 7-6(7)
In about as low-key a start as possible to what would become one of the greatest comeback stories of the current game, Ashleigh Barty returned to the WTA Tour not with media fanfare but tucked out of the world's sight in Nottingham qualifying in 2016.
Having been thrown into the deep end of professional tennis as a teenager, receiving eight Grand Slam main draw wildcards before her 19th birthday, the Australian had then quit the sport for two years citing burnout - so this approach was understandable. Indeed, Barty had not even requested a wildcard into the preliminary rounds: unranked, she took her chances on a last-minute alternate slot opening up, a decision that paid off handsomely as she dismissed Xu Yifan, Paula Cristina Goncalves and two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist Tamira Paszek to reach the main draw.
Having reached the Eastbourne ITF $50K semifinals in her first tournament back the previous week, this form was no real shock, and nor were the 20-year-old's defeats of Peng Shuai and Andrea Hlavackova to reach the quarterfinals. But World No.17 and No.1 seed Karolina Pliskova would be a very different gauge of Barty's level - the first Top 100 player she had faced since Roland Garros 2014, though one she had positive history against on these same courts. Back in the tournament's days as an ITF $50K event, a 16-year-old Barty had won her biggest title to date here in 2012, via a tight 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(6) win over Pliskova.
This year, the Czech would take her revenge - but despite edging both tiebreaks, the takeaway from a high-quality encounter was that Barty was ready to fulfil the potential she had shown as a teenager. Displaying little rust and a lot of grass-court nous, she held two set points in each set, and only 20 aces and clutch play on big points from Pliskova would save the top seed.
Even more impressively in retrospect, Barty delivered this performance against an opponent about to make a big move towards the top of the game. Pliskova went on to take the title, defeating Alison Riske 7-6(8), 7-5 in the final, and then to reach the Eastbourne final two weeks later; she was just two months away from a spectacular US hardcourt run that included her first Premier 5 trophy in Cincinnati and maiden Grand Slam final at the US Open, and would finish the year in the Top 10 for the first time.
Barty, meanwhile, would not start her comeback in earnest until the following season, playing just twice more in 2016 as she continued to hone her game outside competition - but the positivity garnered from dipping her toes back into the tour would be a significant boost for her own surge. Within 15 months, Barty was inside the Top 20 - and almost exactly three years later, she ascended to World No.1 for the first time.
2017 final: Donna Vekic def.  Johanna Konta 2-6, 7-6(3), 7-5
Three years on from the 2017 edition of Nottingham, the tournament seems like a feast of foreshadowing, both short- and long-term. There's Maria Sakkari presaging her emergence as one of the Tour's great fighters with back-to-back epics to reach her second WTA quarterfinal, saving three match points to beat Jana Cepelova 7-6(3), 5-7, 7-6(6) in the first round and one match point to survive Christina McHale 1-6, 7-6(3), 7-5 in the second. There's Magdalena Rybarikova, ranked a lowly World No.117, upsetting No.4 seed Alison Riske 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 in a classic between two grass specialists on the way to the last four, a month before repeating a semifinal showing on the big stage at Wimbledon.
But it was also a transformational tournament for a 20-year-old Donna Vekic - the beginning of the Croat's long-awaited emergence as a significant force on tour. Vekic had burst on to the scene as a prodigy, reaching the 2012 Tashkent final as a 16-year-old in her first ever WTA main draw - but nearly half a decade on from that, despite three further runner-up showings, she had yet to crack the Top 60 or find any semblance of consistency. In a post this year for Behind The Racquet, Vekic recalled that "every time I reached a final or won a tournament, the next few after would be a waste", and admits that self-imposed pressure led to these losing streaks and prevented her from enjoying the game.
But after showing off her smooth power at its best with straight-sets wins over No.6 seed Shelby Rogers, Julia Boserup and Sakkari, Vekic would go on to claim her second career title with a superb demonstration of guts and fortitude. In the semifinals, despite failing to serve out the upset over No.5 seed Lucie Safarova, she held off the Czech's fightback for a 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(4) triumph after two hours and 48 minutes, setting up a title match against No.1 seed and local heroine Johanna Konta, playing her first final on home soil.
Early double faults saw the World No.70 fall behind swiftly, but as Vekic's serve began to click in the second set she would gradually take control. As in her Safarova win, Vekic needed to keep a lid on both her nerves and an opponent whose resistance was only heightened by falling behind on the scoreboard: Konta would retrieve an early break deficit in the second and third sets to push both to the wire. But Vekic did not let herself be fazed by losing her leads - and her clutch win sealed the remarkable feat of achieving both of her first two Top 10 victories in WTA finals, having previously defeated Dominika Cibulkova to lift the Kuala Lumpur trophy in 2014.
Just over two weeks later, Konta would avenge the loss in another epic clash in the second round of Wimbledon - but this time, Vekic would not tread water. Instead, the 2017 grass swing spearheaded a steady upwards trajectory that saw her crack the Top 50 later that year and end last year in the Top 20 after reaching her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal at the US Open.
2018 semifinal:  Ashleigh Barty def.  Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-4
Born just a year apart, Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka have taken very different routes to the top of the game - but they have crossed paths at remarkably similar junctures. Their first meeting, in Acapulco qualifying in 2014, took place when both were teenagers ranked well outside the Top 100; Barty took it 6-2, 6-4 en route to the main draw. Five-and-a-half years on, their last clash pitted two reigning Grand Slam champions and the two most recent World No.1s against each other, with Osaka triumphing 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in last year's Beijing final.
In between, there was this intriguing semifinal in Nottingham. Just one place separated the pair in the rankings, with Barty at World No.17 and Osaka at World No.18. Each had just one title to her name - but both were on the cusp of greatness. Twelve months later, both would be able to call herself a major champion.
Match report: Barty overwhelms Osaka in Nottingham semis
Osaka's title was the more eyecatching: the Japanese player had run through four current or former Top 3 players on her way to the Indian Wells title in March, and had also overpowered Barty 6-2, 6-4 on home soil at the Australian Open en route to making her debut in the second week of a Grand Slam. But grass was - and remains - a learning curve for Osaka, who has admitted that she is not yet fully comfortable on the surface. (Nonetheless, this had not prevented her from making the 2015 Surbiton ITF $50K final on her grass debut, a run that included victories over Hsieh Su-Wei and Anett Kontaveit.)
By contrast, Barty - the 2011 Wimbledon girls' champion - has always been in her element on the lawns, which reward both her biting slice and array of well-disguised serves. That comfort was the deciding factor this time: Osaka started slowly in each set, dropping serve off the bat in both, and despite flashes of form that showed how good she could be on grass in the future, she was never quite able to catch up to a watertight Barty. The Australian was able to move through in straight sets, before capturing her second career title with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win over No.4 seed Johanna Konta in the final - the Briton's second runner-up finish in a row in Nottingham. This match, though, could serve as a harbinger to a rivalry with massive amounts of potential.
2019 final:  Caroline Garcia def.  Donna Vekic 2-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(4)
A wild week in 2019 saw the Nature Valley Open unexpectedly transformed after torrential rain forced most of the first three rounds of the main draw indoors. This didn't affect the quality of the tennis: No.1 seed Caroline Garcia's 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-1 comeback over hard-hitting Romanian qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse was a particular highlight, while Sara Sorribes Tormo pulled off the most remarkable physical feat of the tournament in playing two of the year's eight longest matches back-to-back, the Spaniard winning her first round over Shelby Rogers 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(4) in three hours and 12 minutes but losing her second round to Jennifer Brady 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 over three hours and 10 minutes.
Nonetheless, it was a relief to all - spectators, organisers and players craving some rare grass-court time - when skies finally cleared up at the weekend, allowing for an uninterrupted classic final between the top two seeds on the relatively pristine Nottingham lawns. Both had proved themselves on grass with a previous title - Garcia at Mallorca 2016 and former champion Vekic at Nottingham 2017 - and, firing seven aces each, demonstrated their prowess at big-serving, first-strike tennis over a cleanly played two hours and 36 minutes.
Garcia, who had reached her first final of the season a month previously in Strasbourg, was outgunned more often - but rarely when it really counted. Quickly falling behind a set, the Frenchwoman seemed to be barely clinging on to the scoreboard as a confident Vekic executed consistent, flawless power. Even when Garcia twice went up a break in the second set, her lead rarely seemed safe as the Croat pegged her back both times, and in the third set Vekic thrice came within two points of the title with Garcia serving at 4-5 and 5-6.
But somehow, the World No.28 managed to serve and strike her way out of each danger zone: in the second set tiebreak, Vekic's backhand side would let her down, but in the deciding moments Garcia stepped up on both serve and return, reaching championship point with a return winner and sealing her seventh title with an ace.
Since then, though, the pair's fortunes have diverged from the outcome of this match: Garcia would back up her title by reaching the Mallorca quarterfinal the following week, but then hit a slump that saw her fail to win consecutive matches again for another nine months. Vekic, by contrast, would maintain enough momentum to reach her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal at the US Open and finish the season inside the Top 20 for the first time.