The WTA Tour moves from the glamour of a major in Paris to a couple of somewhat lower key events on Week 24 of the 2013 calendar.
In Nurnberg, Germany they stay on clay for the inaugural staging of the Nurnberger Versicherungs Cup, where the indefatigable Jelena Jankovic is the top seed and JJ is joined by Klara Zakopalova, Alize Cornet, Julia Goerges and Lucie Safarova for this €235,000 event.
Those wanting to make early preparations for Wimbledon play the first tour level grass court event of the season in Birmingham, UK, where grass court lovers such as Sabine Lisicki, Tamira Paszek and Tsvetana Pironkova will be keen to get back on the green stuff once more.
Also in action are Laura Robson, who’s working with Andy Murray’s former coach Miles Maclagan, and Heather Watson, who’s edging back to fitness after a bout of glandular fever.
The Aegon Classic in Birmingham last year produced 17 winning favourites from 24 first round matches and it is notable that British ladies were responsible for the two biggest opening round upsets 12 months ago on a surface they are much more familiar with and enjoy more than some of the others here.
Tara Moore and Melanie South delivered wins over Iveta Benesova and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, but South has a very tough match against former Birmingham champion Magdalena Rybarikova this time around, while Moore faces the less experienced Kiki Mladenovic.
Lucic-Baroni’s stay in Birmingham may be equally as brief this year, as she faces big hitting Karolina Pliskova, who warmed up for this by reaching the final in Nottingham on grass last week and will be more confident and more attuned to the surface than her opponent.
Pliskova also beat Lucic-Baroni in their only career meeting, which was on a hard court and the Croatian is on a five match losing streak at the moment. Pliskova can use her week’s match practice to good effect today by landing the win at around 1.70.
Best Bet: Back Karolina Pliskova to beat Lucic-Baroni at 1.70
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