First big tournament after Roland-Garros, the Premier level Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham is the kick off the grass court season as a lead up to Wimbledon, which begins July 2. Despite the absence of the two best players in the world, Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki, this year’s draw still boasted 8 of the top 16 players on the WTA rankings.
The seeds struggled throughout the week however, with only three advancing to the second round proving that the transition from clay to grass can be tough.
— Jimmie48 Photography (@JJlovesTennis) June 18, 2018
Karolina Pliskova was one of the early exits as she was upset by eventual finalist Magdalena Rybarikova. Daria Kasatkina and Elise Mertens also didn’t last long in Birmingham while reigning Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza fell in round two to Barbora Strycova – not the ideal preparation for the Spaniard as she gets ready to defend her title at the All England Club.
In the bottom half of the draw, only seeds Julia Goerges, Elina Svitolina, and Petra Kvitova made it past the opening round and Kvitova ultimately earned a berth in her fifth final of 2018.
— Jimmie48 Photography (@JJlovesTennis) June 21, 2018
The Czech lefty remained undefeated in championship matches this year, overcoming Rybarikova 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 to capture her fifth title of the season. Kvitova is the only player so far in 2018, ATP and WTA combined, to win a tournament on all three surfaces: hard, clay, and grass. Quite an achievement for a player who is just 18 months removed from surviving a knife attack during a home invasion at the end of 2016.
The two-time former champion will certainly be one of the favourites when she arrives at SW19 for the third Grand Slam event of the season.