Aegon International, 🇬🇧 Eastbourne R2 Preview
(4) 🇸🇰 Dominika Cibulkova vs (wc) 🇬🇧 Heather Watson
Dominika Cibulkova begins her title defence at the Aegon International with a tricky second round clash against local hopeful Heather Watson. Cibulkova arrives in Eastbourne in poor form and in desperate need of a form reversal given all the points she has to defend this week as last year’s champion and the quarter-final points she will have to defend at Wimbledon next month. The Slovakian will need to be on her game on Monday if she is to get past her first hurdle, her opponent Heather Watson got off to a good start in Eastbourne by defeating Lesia Tsurenko in straight sets and enjoys playing on grass in Britain.
Dominika Cibulkova arrives in Eastbourne having lost 5 of her last 7 matches, a very disappointing set of results for Cibulkova given what she is clearly capable of. Cibulkova went on a great run at this time last year, winning the title in Eastbourne before reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. It will be interesting to see if Cibulkova can replicate that form over the coming weeks, if her last few tournaments are a good indication then she will struggle to do so.
Heather Watson has taken a dramatic slip down the rankings in recent times but will be hoping for a change of fortune during her favourite time of the year. Watson started her grass court swing at the 100k Surbiton ITF event where she reached the final but at the WTA level she arrives in Eastbourne fresh off back-to-back first round defeats. Watson reversed that trend on Sunday with a solid 6-3 4-6 6-4 win over Lesia Tsurenko.
The head-to-head record between Cibulkova and Watson is split at 1 win apiece. Both of their previous encounters were on a hard court in 2014, Cibulkova won in straight sets in Brisbane whilst Watson won in a third set tiebreaker at the Rogers Cup.
I’m going to side with Cibulkova here despite her recent poor form. Cibulkova will be extremely determined to perform well this week and will be confident given what she did at this event last year. This should be a good match-up for Cibulkova because she has more firepower and better movement. Cibulkova’ more damaging return of serve and willingness to go big should see her get over the line here despite tricky moments.
Prediction: Dominika Cibulkova to defeat Heather Watson in 2 sets