So, this was unbelievably my first appearance as a spectator, but my old man reminded me that I had in fact played here in an LTA event some 20 years ago! Ousted second round for the record!
The Aegon Classic boasted 7 of the world’s top 20 this year and had it not have been due to several pullouts (Kerber, Halep and Karolina Pliskova in particular), this would have been an even stronger field! Set in a scenic area of the town there is that SW19/Surrey feel about the place! It is worth noting it’s only a £7 taxi fare from Birmingham New Street station, keeping the costs down. A centre court offering of Kvitova, Konta, Cibulkova v Safarova and Muguruza is a pretty strong lineup and worth the £39 admission for Tuesday’s play. I have to say I’m a big fan of the layout of the outside courts (1-4), which have vantage points and seating all the way across. If you so wish you can watch these courts simultaneously, the fact that players such as Mladenovic, Vandeweghe, Vondrousova and Vikhlyantseva were on the menu was a massive bonus!
We unquestionably had a good days tennis (I took my Mummy for her Mother’s Day treat!!). Seeing Petra back on court was great as she gets more matches under her belt, the lefty serve working nicely! Leisa Tsurenko gave Konta a good test as expected. The Ukrainian really should have taken this the distance in the end but lost her way late on in the second after both players seemed to be distracted by some noise from the west stand. The lovely Dom Cibulkova played Lucie Safarova in what was the match of the day, as the betting suggested! This one going right to the wire with Bulky getting beat from a break up in the decider. The crowd really getting into this one, I just love seeing Cibulkova fire herself up, so plucky and entertaining, all 5 ft 3 of her! Elizaveta Kulichkova came through her three rounds of qualies and gave Garbine Muguruza an almighty scare! The Russian was edging this one on points but Muguruza served and played the bigger points well to land the knockout blow in the end! Still a bit patchy from the Russian but when’s she’s hot, she is hot, blitzing winners off both wings with regularity!
It all tied in with getter the train back after, not much worse than having to leave a match before it’s finished. My mother also gave the tournament star ratings as she was more than pleased with the standard and whom she got to see and also liked the fact that it wasn’t overly busy and the seats we had in the upper south stand were of a good view! So much so I think she’s thinking of dragging Dad here next year with a view of a trip to Eastbourne the following week! So it was thumbs up from Mother and Son!
Next weeks sees trips to both the Wimbledon qualies and Eastbourne for myself! Still buzzing! Let’s go!!
Andy Del Potro