Heather Watson faces tough task to find form at Eastbourne


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The Independent Online

With the start of Wimbledon only seven days away, this week’s Aegon International at Eastbourne will offer players a last chance to get in some grass-court competition before taking to the Grand Slam stage.

The tournament traditionally attracts a strong women’s field and this year is no exception. Eight of the world’s top 15 women are in Sussex, with the field headed by Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, last year’s Wimbledon runner-up, and Li Na, the former French Open champion. Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki will be two of the other main attractions.

Tara Moore’s 6-4, 2-6, 6-7 defeat by the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova in the final round of qualifying yesterday leaves four British women in the 32-strong draw. Heather Watson faces the toughest task, against the American Varvara Lepchenko, the world No 28. Johanna Konta meets the world No 44, Hsieh Su-wei, while Laura Robson and Elena Baltacha both play qualifiers.

Canada’s Milos Raonic, who was given a wild card, and France’s Gilles Simon are the men’s top two seeds. Two Britons feature courtesy of wild cards. James Ward, Britain’s No 2, plays Australia’s Bernard Tomic while 18-year-old Kyle Edmund meets a qualifier.