Watson and Konta join Robson in Aegon Classic second round

Laura Robson, Heather Watson and Jo Konta are all through to the second round of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham

johanna konta
Johanna Konta is through to round two in Birmingham Photo: Marianne Bevis

Laura Robson, Heather Watson and Jo Konta, the top three Britons in the women’s tennis rankings, will all contest third-round places in one of the key grass tournaments ahead of Wimbledon, the Aegon Classic in Birmingham.

The big 56-women draw boasts 15 top-50 players, including 2011 champion, Sabine Lisicki. And while British No1 Robson, seeded No7, had a bye to the second round, both Watson and Konta put in strong performances in their opening matches to join her.

Watson, making her debut at the Aegon Classic, took an hour and half to beat world No110, Melinda Czink, 6-4, 7-6, in only her second match since returning to competition after a four-month break with glandular fever.

Konta, who reached the semi-finals of last week’s Aegon Trophy in Nottingham, was even faster in dismissing Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara, 6-2, 6-4, in just 73 minutes. She will now face talented Frenchwoman, Kristina Mladenovic, who beat fellow Briton, Tara Moore.

Wild card Moore is now the fourth-ranked Briton ahead of Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha, but fell after a 2hr 20min battle to No12 seed Mladenovic, 5-7, 7-6, 6-4.

Robson begins her campaign against the former world No5 and a former finalist in Birmingham—though unranked here—Daniela Hantuchova. The two met earlier this year in the first round of Doha, where the Slovak rushed to a 6-4, 6-1 win. The winner this time is scheduled to meet Konta in the fourth round.

Birmingham, the sister tournament to Queen’s, is the first in a four-event run that tracks the men’s grass tour through Europe.

It has been held at Edgbaston Priory Club since 1982, when Billie Jean King was the tournament’s first champion. Now, after a major redevelopment programme during the last couple of years, it has been upgraded to a World Tennis Association Premier 600 event, which will, from next year, lead to more prize money, more ranking points and, the tournament hopes, top-10 names.

This year’s event was launched with the inauguration of its new sunken centre court, named after Ann Jones, the 1969 Wimbledon champion.

The sister tournament to Halle sees its inaugural staging in Nürnberg, Germany. The top seed there is Jelena Jankovic, fresh from her quarter-final run at the French Open. She is joined by Andrea Petkovic, Julia Goerges and Simona Halep.

Next week, the women’s tour tracks the men to the Netherlands and Eastbourne.

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