Former British No.1 Anne Keothavong, who is now the country’s Fed Cup captain and a tennis commentator, makes her picks for Birmingham.
June 14, 2019
Naomi Osaka, Roland Garros, French Open

Naomi Osaka

"As the World No.1, Naomi Osaka simply has to be a favorite to win a title every week. Overall, she put together a very consistent clay season, on a surface that hasn’t produced her best results in the past.

"I think she is also still finding her way on grass to some degree but having had a couple of weeks to regroup after Paris, she will be ready to go. With her excellent serve and overall power in her shots, she has the game to hurt any opponent."

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No.8 seed Ashleigh Barty is still alive in the QFs (Getty)

Ashleigh Barty

"Barty must be on an absolute high after winning her first Slam at Roland Garros on what was probably her least favorite surface. Hopefully she won’t experience too much of a letdown, and I don’t think she will.

"It will be a fast turnaround but she loves playing on grass, which suits the variety in her game beautifully.

"She won the title at Nottingham last year and as well as being a top contender at Birmingham, I consider her to be one of the favorites for Wimbledon a few weeks from now."

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Pliskova edged a tight first set, 7-5 (Getty)

Karolina Pliskova

"Another player with a strong pedigree on the grass swing is Pliskova, who was runner-up at Birmingham in 2015 and won Eastbourne in 2017. We all talk about her serve, which of course is a huge weapon, but I also like her movement on this surface.

"As a tall player, she may not be the fastest out there but she covers the court well and just seems very comfortable, which is important."

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Johanna Konta returns to the Top 20 after 14 months away thanks to her third Grand Slam semifinal showing in Paris (Getty)

Johanna Konta

"Konta is coming off a fantastic clay season, playing the kind of tennis that took her to Top 5 in the world a few years ago. She’s been looking better and better at each event and seems to be finding real joy in her tennis.

"I feel her serve has improved significantly this year, and if she can keep up her form from Paris her ability to rush opponents will be even more effective on grass. The British fans will be right behind her and she has proven many times that she thrives on their support."

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Outside picks:

"In terms of outside picks, I’m keeping an eye on Donna Vekic and Anett Kontaveit, who have both won WTA titles on grass. Vekic won at Nottingham in 2017 and was a finalist at Birmingham back in 2013.

"Her game adapts well to the various surfaces, and this year she has risen steadily to be knocking on the door of the Top 20.

"For her part, Kontaveit, who was champion at ‘s-Hertogenbosch a couple of years ago, isn’t coming off a great clay swing – but the first part of her season was terrific and I’m looking to her to play with more freedom on the grass.

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