By Ros Satar
(June 23, 2015) EASTBOURNE, England – Hot on the heels of Petra Kvitova’s withdrawal, Birmingham champion Angelique Kerber withdrew also citing a viral illness. There was a lot of this going about as Eastbourne’s defending champion had to withdraw from Birmingham with the flu, and as she bowed out in her opener to Belinda Bencic, she lamented the timing, especially with the inclusion of an extra grass court week.
She said: “I had the flu [for] almost a week. Yeah, it was lots of laying there thinking I was dying. Then eventually I started feeling a little bit better and was able to start practicing again. Luckily I didn’t actually die. You know, just trying to get back to 100% now.”
She continued: “It was kind of nice because it was a perfect schedule. You can get some practice, have two full weeks of grass before going into Wimbledon, and then getting sick and having to pull out of that one week and kind of having to try to jam everything into this week is not ideal, so fingers crossed it doesn’t happen again next year.”
There was better news though for Genie Bouchard who turned in her first win on grass this season, and her first win since Rome last month, a 7-6(5), 6-3 victory over Alison Riske.
Bouchard said: “I felt good with my game today, happy with the way I fought. I just want to keep going, take another step tomorrow. Regardless of the outcome, I just want to do the right thing tomorrow.”
Another good win was the returning Dominika Cibulkova, who has been off the tour since February, after requiring Achilles surgery. To consider her return on one of the toughest surfaces, but that was just how the dates fell, and her return has been great with a run to the third round already.
There was plenty to keep the Brits occupied on Tuesday, as Johanna Konta got another great win, this time over a Top 10 player, and her best win to date, although she still preferred to try and keep her feet on the ground.
She said: “I’m going to work on not adjusting my mindset, because the way I’m working and the thought process I’m going along with, that is what has given me my best opportunity to play well and that’s why I think I did well today.”
Heather Watson was once more the closing act on Centre Court, and she put on a show for the late-staying crowds. Trading breaks at the start of the match, Svitolina battled to convert on a fourth break point to take the advantage in the first, taking the first set.
With the second set starting in the same way, this time it was Watson who battled away to finally get a crucial break late in the second, to level things up. The momentum stayed with her at the start of the decider, much to the crowd’s enjoyment, as Watson built up a 4-2 lead. But the nerves hit as Svitolina crept back into the match, breaking straight back. Watson really had to hold her nerve breaking the Ukrainian to pick up her second Top 20 win of the year.
It was an emotional Watson who spoke on court straight after the match, thanking the crowd for getting her over the line, and afterwards she explained:
“This week was kind of like a new start for me and I just really, I don’t know, I’ve got a lot of emotion in me right now. I think on the court it shows. I’m kind of getting mad at myself sometimes, but I’m also very positive when I win the point.
“I think also the crowd today was louder than I think I have ever heard them here at Eastbourne for one of my matches. I just loved every minute of it.”
She will face Sloane Stephens next, in what has been a great day for the British women, and Watson comments about Konta:
“I have always known Jo can play brilliant. I think it’s now finally coming out now. She played amazing and just throughout the whole match, and I’m just really proud of her.”
Play continues in the third round at 11am BST.
Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.
AEGON INTERNATIONAL – EASTBOURNE, GBR
21 – 27 JUNE 2015
RESULTS – JUNE 23, 2015
Singles – Second Round
 C. Wozniacki (DEN) d [Q] J. Gajdosova (AUS) 76(4) 62
D. Cibulkova (SVK) d  L. Safarova (CZE) 76(7) 64
[WC] J. Konta (GBR) d  E. Makarova (RUS) 62 64
S. Stephens (USA) d  C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) 61 75
 E. Bouchard (CAN) d A. Riske (USA) 76(5) 63
 K. Pliskova (CZE) d C. Dellacqua (AUS) 64 75
 A. Radwanska (POL) d [Q] I. Falconi (USA) 60 62
 A. Petkovic (GER) d C. Garcia (FRA) 62 64
H. Watson (GBR) d  E. Svitolina (UKR) 36 75 64
B. Bencic (SUI) d  M. Keys (USA) 62 62
 S. Errani (ITA) d B. Strycova (CZE) 62 67(1) 76(7) (saved 2mp)
 G. Muguruza (ESP) d [Q] P. Hercog (SLO) 57 63 60
S. Kuznetsova (RUS) d  F. Pennetta (ITA) 63 64
T. Pironkova (BUL) d  S. Stosur (AUS) 75 76(0)
[LL] D. Gavrilova (RUS) d C. Giorgi (ITA) 36 76(6) 63 (saved 1mp)
C. Vandeweghe (USA) d [LL] M. Niculescu (ROU) 75 26 61
Doubles – First Round
 M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) d M. Krajicek (NED) / K. Pliskova (CZE) 60 62
Y. Chan (TPE) / J. Zheng (CHN) d  T. Babos (HUN) / K. Mladenovic (FRA) 76(5) 63
 C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) d K. Jans-Ignacik (POL) / A. Klepac (SLO) 63 64
ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24, 2015
CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
 E. Bouchard (CAN) vs B. Bencic (SUI)
 G. Muguruza (ESP) vs [WC] J. Konta (GBR)
S. Kuznetsova (RUS) vs  C. Wozniacki (DEN)
H. Watson (GBR) vs S. Stephens (USA)
 M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) vs H. Chan (TPE) / F. Pennetta (ITA)
COURT 1 start 11:00 am
D. Cibulkova (SVK) vs T. Pironkova (BUL)
 A. Radwanska (POL) vs  K. Pliskova (CZE)
C. Vandeweghe (USA) vs  A. Petkovic (GER)
[LL] D. Gavrilova (RUS) vs  S. Errani (ITA)
 C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs [WC] J. Rae (GBR) / A. Smith (GBR)
COURT 2 start 11:00 am
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) vs J. Goerges (GER) / L. Hradecka (CZE)
C. Black (ZIM) / L. Raymond (USA) vs [Alt] M. Niculescu (ROU) / A. Rodionova (AUS)
After Suitable Rest – [WC] E. Bouchard (CAN) / M. Erakovic (NZL) vs  E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS)