Grand Slam finalists among early ones to watch at Eastbourne
Former Grand Slam finalists Kevin Anderson and Vera Zvonareva will feature in qualifying on day one of Eastbourne's Viking International today (June 19).
Francesca Jones, Alastair Gray, Sussex teenager Lui Maxted and rising British talent Jodie Burrage are all set to play.
Anderson, runner up to Novak Djokovic in the 2018 Wimbledon final, will take on Australia's Max Purcell, while Zvonareva, who reached the Wimbledon and US Open finals in 2010 plays talented French woman Fiona Ferro.
A host of young British talent, including 20 year-old Francesca Jones, 22 year-olds Jodie Burrage and Alastair Gray and Sussex teenager 17 year-old Lui Maxted will take to the courts.
Jelena Ostapenko and British No.2 Heather Watson will join a high-quality WTA field at the LTA’s Viking International Eastbourne which already includes five of the world’s top 10. The Latvian, who won at Roland Garros in 2017, reached a career-high ranking of World No.5 in 2018, the same year she reached the quarter-finals in Eastbourne.
“I’m really happy to have been given a Wild Card for the LTA’s Viking International Eastbourne. I’ve played the tournament quite a few times and it’s such a nice place, I’m really looking forward to returning,” she told the LTA.
Joining Ostapenko in the women’s event is Watson, who has started the grass-court season well reaching the last 16 at the Viking Challenge Nottingham followed up by a great week at the Viking Classic Birmingham, reaching at least the quarter-finals.
Also joining the main draws at the combined ATP 250/WTA 500 event at Devonshire Park will be Brits Liam Broady, Jay Clarke, James Ward, Harriet Dart by virtue of wildcards from the LTA.
Broady, aged 27 and currently ranked No.146 in the world, has reached two finals and two semi-finals on the ATP Challenger Tour this year and recently made it through to the round of 16 at the LTA’s Viking Challenge Nottingham.
Clarke, currently ranked 233rd in the world, reached the round of 16 in Eastbourne in 2018 while Ward, 34, is a previous quarter-finalist in Eastbourne.
Dart, along with Clarke, are both part of the LTA Pro Scholarship Programme (PSP) which is the highest level of coaching, medical and financial support offered to developing players by the national governing body. It is offered to players aged between 16 and 24 with the best chance of reaching the ATP/WTA top 100 singles within five years.
Iain Bates, LTA Head of Women’s Tennis, said: “It’s great for Heather and Harriet to get the opportunity to join the main draw in Eastbourne building on their performances from the first two weeks of the grass season and as Wimbledon approaches. We know how hard everyone at the LTA and the team in Eastbourne are working to put on the event and we’re sure it will be a great week for all the players involved.”
The Viking International Eastbourne will be broadcast on Amazon Prime and the BBC. The singles draws will take place at 1pm today.
It is one of the LTA’s major summer events, and will be able to accommodate approximately 25% of its normal full capacity. The event will be socially distanced, in line with the current safety protocols required by the UK Government and the ATP and WTA Tours.