BritWatch is our regular Friday piece introducing where each of our British players is playing in the upcoming week, whether it be on the ATP/WTA tours, the ITF Futures circuit, or further down at national, junior and collegiate level.
Week 21 – 23rd – 30th May 2016
The weeks are careering by at break-neck speed, and the two weeks of Roland Garros are now on our doorstep. After failed qualifying campaigns, we have seven Brits in the main draw of the clay court Slam. But how many of them will last until the second week?
ATP World Tour
So our top three Brits are all in the Roland Garros main draw, with the draw having already been made. Andy Murray is seeded second, and there’s no Roger Federer, meaning the third seed is Stan Wawrinka, the reigning champion. Nadal is in Djokovic’s half of the draw as fourth seed. All three Brits are drawn against qualifiers, with Murray playing Radek Stepanek for the second time this month. Aljaz Bedene will seek to further improve his head-to-head record against Austrian Gerard Melzer (currently 3-0 to the Brit), while Kyle Edmund faces Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, ranked just outside the top 100.
Outside of Roland Garros, there’s not a huge amount of Brits in action. Rhett Purcell seeks to do a little better in this week’s Chinese $25k, but is again in qualifying. At $10k level, Dylan Gee is in qualifying in Algeria, while Matthew Brooklyn is also in qualifying in Guam. Toby Martin heads back to Israel and is in the main draw, while George Davies is once again in qualifying here. Farris Gosea looks to continue his decent form through qualifying in Mexico again. Billy Harris is once again down for qualifying in Portugal, but given his absence last week, he once again may not be found in the drawsheet. Zak Khan and Enrique Vidal are in qualifying in Spain once again. Predictably, Dan Dowson remains in Tunisia, and James Allemby can be found in the qualifying draw. In Turkey, there’s plenty of lads in qualifying: Jamie Praditngam, Scott Duncan, Matthew Chadwick, Ewen Lumsden and Michael Morphy.
AEGON British Tour
The lack of Brits in ITF Futures events may well be down to the draw of the Premier Tier British Tour event in Felixstowe this week. There’s plenty of bigger names: Joe Salisbury, Neil Pauffley, Dan Smethurst, Marcus Walters, Joshua Sapwell and Keelan Oakley could all pick up the title, while there’ll be a fair share of competition from the likes of Robbie Ridout, Jonathan Binding and Jonathan Gray.
Bidding to set aside the disappointments from last week’s Grade A event in Italy, Jay Clarke, Ryan Storrie, Alexis Canter and Ewan Moore are all in the main draw at the Grade 1 event in Belgium, the week before the junior French Open kicks off. Clarke should be in the top 4 seeds while Storrie will be in the top 8. At the Grade 2 event in Hungary, Max Stewart and Jake Hersey are in the main draw, with Jeremy Gschwendtner in qualifying. Young Harry Wendelken tries qualifying for a Grade 4 event in Sweden, while the bulk of the younger juniors are in Estonia for the Grade 4 over there: Adam Jones, Jack Draper, Joshua Rose and Ryan Gaskin are all high acceptances into the main draw, with Jones and Draper likely to pick up the third and fourth seed slots. At a Grade 5 in Georgia, James MacKinlay, Sahej Maker and Daniel Webb are all in qualifying, while at the Grade 5 event in Montenegro, Barnaby Smith will be one of the top four seeds.
So we have FOUR British women in the main draw at Roland Garros: three on current merit, and one on past merit: Johanna Konta is seeded 20th and is drawn against Julia Georges of Germany in the first round. The German is ranked 60th in the world and could pose a decent threat to the British Number 1. Heather Watson faces American Nicole Gibbs, while Naomi Broady will continue to attempt a vaguely decent clay court swing against another American, Coco Vandeweghe. Laura Robson, entered on a protected ranking thanks to her ranking prior to her injury, faces German 28th seed Andrea Petkovic. Only Gibbs and Watson have met before, with the American winning 7-5 6-2 in Seoul in 2014.
While there’s $50k events available, the highest level chosen by Brits this week is $25k – in Japan, Katy Dunne is again in the main draw, while Freya Christie and Harriet Dart are in Korea. Gabi Taylor makes the journey to Uzbekistan for the $25k there, and she sneaks into the main draw. At $10k level, Amanda Carreras will be seeded in Spain, while young Francesca Jones will be hoping to further push towards a WTA Rankings in qualifying for the $10k in Tunisia. Maia Lumsden is again in action in Turkey, with Suzy Larkin in qualifying.
AEGON British Tour
There’s some big, big names at the British Tour in Felixstowe this week, most notably Katy Dunne, who should be too good for the rest of the field. Beth Grey, Serena Nash and Holly Hutchinson could provide decent opposition, but Dunne outranks all of them in both the WTA and LTA rankings by some distance and should have no trouble picking up the title. Emily Arbuthnott could cause a stir too, while the in-form Anna Popescu is in qualifying.
The only Brit in the draw for the Grade 1 in Belgium is Worthy Goldman, who makes the qualifying draw. Who? In Hungary, the Grade 2 attracts some familiar names: Ali Collins will be well seeded, while Lauryn John-Baptiste and Gemma Heath will also both be in action. Finally, at the Grade 5 in Georgia, Summer Yardley, Sasha Southgate and Tamara Malazonia are in the main draw, while Julie Ball pops up in qualifying in Montenegro.