2018 Birmingham Classic Draw: Previews & Analysis

Jun 17 4 min read

7:26 am
Petra Kvitova on Flickr by Andrew Campbell under CC2.0

Started in 1984, the Birmingham Classic enters its 37th edition with Garbine Muguruza being the top seed. In 2014, the event was upgraded to a Premier tournament and serves as one of the primary warm-up tournaments as a buildup to Wimbledon. In each of the past four editions, a Czech player has reached the final. Barbora Strycova reached the final in 2014 & 2016, Karolina Pliskova in 2015 and Petra Kvitova in 2017. Kvitova is the only Czech to win the title in the event's history. This year, Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova are seeded third and fourth respectively and wild card entrant Elina Svitolina is seeded second.

Top Half: Muguruza, Pliskova, Kasatkina, Mertens

Top seed Garbine Muguruza faces Russian No. 3 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who could be a tricky customer in the opening round. The duo’s previous encounter at Stuttgart this year ended prematurely, with Muguruza forced to retire due to an injury after dropping the first set. Apart from that match Muguruza has won their three previous encounters. A fourth win against the Russian will see the Spaniard likely face 2016 runner-up Barbora Strycova. Strycova will face a qualifier in her opening round. 

Sixth seed and Russian No.1 Daria Kasatkina will face a qualifier in the first round and will face the winner of Lesia Tsurenko and wild card entrant Heather Watson in the second. Watson won her lone meeting against Tsurenko last year at Eastbourne in three sets. Kasatkina is likely to face Muguruza in the quarter-finals. 

Third seed Karolina Pliskova will face World No. 19 Magdalena Rybarikova and will look to avenge her 2017 second round Wimbledon defeat to the Slovakian. Rybarikova won this event back in 2009. If Pliskova can exact her revenge, she will face the winner of Kristina Mladenovic and Katerina Siniakova. Siniakova and Mladenovic have contested five matches in five years. They met earlier this year at St. Petersburg which the French woman won in straight sets. Siniakova leads their head to head 3-2. 

Nottingham quarter-finalist Katie Boulter received a wild card in this tournament. The Brit will face World No. 18 Naomi Osaka in the first round. A win for Osaka would mean her probable opponent in the second round would be Belgian No.1, Elise Mertens. Mertens and Osaka met once in 2017 at Wuhan, with the Belgian winning 6-4 1-6 6-4.

Likely quarter-finals :

  • Muguruza vs Kasatkina
  • Pliskova vs Mertens

Bottom Half: Svitolina, Kvitova, Goerges, Vandeweghe

Fifth seed Julia Goerges faces Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the first round. They are tied 1-1 in their head to head record and will meet for the first time on grass. The winner will face last year’s runner-up, Ashleigh Barty in the second round. 

Dominika Cibulkova will face Daria Gavrilova for the third time in her career. They are tied at 1-1 in the head to head record but the Slovakian leads the Australian 1-0 on grass. Johanna Konta will face defending champion Petra Kvitova in the first round. Johanna Konta has reached the semi-finals at Nottingham and is 19-11 in 2018. Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, leads Konta 2-1. However, Konta was victorious in their lone match on grass at Eastbourne in 2016 where she she won the deciding set 6-0. 

This year’s semi-finalist at the Libema Open, Coco Vandeweghe faces World No. 48 Petra Martic in the first round. The American has had a rough season so far with a W-L record of 12-10. If the eighth seeded American manages to get past Martic, she will face Timea Babos (World No. 37) or Mihaela Buzarnescu (World No. 30) in the next round.

Second seed Elina Svitolina will face Donna Vekic for the third time. The Ukrainian leads their rivalry 2-0. In the adjacent bracket, World No. 41 Alize Cornet will face World No. 36 Ekaterina Makarova in the first round. Cornet leads their head to head 2-0. 

Likely quarter-finals :

  • Goerges vs Kvitova
  • Vandeweghe vs Svitolina

The Birmingham Classic, which is often seen as a sister tournament to the Fever Tree Championships promises to be a highly competitive one this year as the ladies lineup to give their best on grass.