Nature Valley Open 2018

Wow what an incredible week of tennis we’ve had here in Nottingham. We’d like to add our congratulations to our wonderful singles champions, Ashleigh Barty and Alex de Minaur, who kept us thoroughly entertained all week with some incredible shot-making!

While we all catch our breath here’s a quick round-up of all of the amazing action from the Nature Valley Open 2018.

The week began with an all British clash out on Centre Court as Alex Ward defeated Liam Broady in a closely contested match that went all the way to a thrilling match tie break! It was a pity they couldn’t both win but it was great for Alex to claim his first win of the year, hopefully the first of many.

On Tuesday Germany’s Tobias Simon appeared quite taken aback by his adoring fans on the  Nottingham Centre Court. He walked onto court to an ovation usually reserved for boyband members as screaming girls jumped up and down excitedly in the stands. However Britain’s James Ward ultimately won their encounter, which once again came right down to the wire and was decided in the match tie break 64 67 76. There was so much for the Brits to applaud as on the same day Heather Watson, Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter also posted impressive wins.

However there was also an injury out on Court 2 as Nottingham favourite Zarina Diyas suffered a shocking knee injury during her match against former US Open Champion Sam Stosur. Diyas was clearly in a lot of pain and was unable to walk from the court after her fall near the baseline. We all send her our heartfelt best wishes and hope to see her back out on the court again soon! She had been in excellent form here in Nottingham and she and her doubles partner Zheng Saisai had already claimed an impressive victory over Jo Konta and Yanina Wickmayer, just a day before.

On Wednesday there was a big shock in the women’s draw as Magdaléna Rybáriková, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon last year and our second seed, was knocked out of the competition by Germany’s Mona Barthel in three sets. Meanwhile Dan Evans defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky in straight sets, a player who you may remember from 2013 when he defeated Roger Federer in the 2nd round of Wimbledon. Evans is currently working his way back up the rankings after a drugs ban.

Thursday saw another battle of the Brits as Johanna Konta took on Heather Watson on a very windy  day here in Nottingham. Konta won through in challenging conditions as the crowd swayed between suncream and coats. Out on Court 1 Katie Boulter had a very impressive straight sets win over Sam Stosur. She’s definitely one to watch this grass court season!

Friday saw Johanna Konta in impressive form as she defeated Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic 64 62. Naomi Osaka, the reigning Indian Wells champion was also in no mood to hang around as she saw off Romania’s Mihaela Buzărnescu 64 61.  Katie Boulter made her Centre Court debut (the first of many for her we think!) in her quarter final match against Ashleigh Barty but the Aussie proved too strong on this occasion. James Ward’s impressive run to the quarter final stage also ended in defeat at the hands of Illya Ivashka out on Court 1 but there were a lot of good signs from Wardy who has been struggling with injuries of late. He also reached the final in the new Loughborough challenger event recently and looks set to move back up the rankings at pace.

Friday also saw an epic doubles battle out on the Centre Court as London’s Joe Salisbury and his Danish partner Frederik Nielsen (who you may remember from his historic Wimbledon victory with Jonny Marray in 2012) defeated Liverpool’s Ken and Neal Skupski 15 13 in the match tiebreak in a tense nail-biter that played out in the evening sunshine. On Saturday Salisbury and Nielsen went on to claim the title, defeating the fourth seeds Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Austin Krajicek in straight sets 76 61. In only their second tournament as a pair the duo won their second title! Here’s hoping they team up again at Wimbledon this year!

On Saturday Dan Evans progressed to the final of the men’s singles with a hard-fought three set victory over Spain’s Marcel Granollers on Centre Court. He booked his place in the title match to face Alex de Minaur, who defeated Illya Ivashka of Belarus in his semi-final. If you haven’t seen 19 year old Alex play yet, keep an eye out for him as his shot-making on the run is particularly impressive! Mentored by Lleyton Hewitt, he’s definitely a force to be reckoned with on the grass.

Fellow Aussie Ashleigh Barty also booked her place in the women’s singles final on Saturday with a straight sets win over Naomi Osaka of Japan, 63 64. While later in the day Johanna Konta and our defending champion Donna Vekic took to the court for their semi-final, a repeat of last year’s thrilling final match. Konta took the first set 62 before heavy rain brought an hour long halt to proceedings. On the restart, there was a slightly odd incident as Vekic attempted to call a ball out herself in the middle of a rally and stopped in her tracks. Due to her loud shout of “out!” during the point the umpire had no choice but to award the point to her opponent. After this, Vekic was clearly distracted and visibly upset and the match slipped away from her with Konta winning comfortably 62 63 and moving forward into Sunday’s final. Meanwhile out on Court 1 Heather Watson and her Romanian doubles partner Mihaela Buzărnescu (Elina Svitolina’s conquerer at the French Open this year) booked their spot in the ladies doubles final, meaning that every final played at Nottingham this year had British representation!

On Sunday morning Watson and Buzărnescu fought hard amid enthusiastic home support but they were ultimately defeated by the experienced doubles pairing of Alicja Rosolska and Abigail Spears, 63 76.  The third seeds were clearly delighted with their win, which capped off a fantastic week for them!

In the men’s singles final Alex de Minaur played incredibly well as he defeated Britain’s Dan Evans in two tight sets 76 75 in just over 2 hours. The 19 year old Aussie had lost his last 4 ATP Challenger finals as well as an ATP 250 final in Sydney this year, and after the match he said, “These two weeks have been memorable for me and I will never forget them. The difference between today and my other finals is that I managed to stay composed. I just got back onto what I needed to do. Playing on Centre Court is a pretty special atmosphere.”

In the women’s singles final Ashleigh Barty lifted the Elena Baltacha trophy after a 63 36 64 win over British No. 1 Johanna Konta. Konta lost concentration at the end of the tough match, disputing a line call and sadly refusing to shake the umpire’s hand, much to the dismay of the packed Centre Court crowd.

Barty, who won both the singles and the doubles ITF events in Nottingham at the age of just 16 in 2012 with her incredible play, said, “I feel great. Especially coming into a final, the adrenaline gets you going. I feel I played really well all week and it was building and building and getting better and better each game. Jo was going to be the biggest test. I’m very glad to come through in the end. It was a high quality match today.

“Jo was a Wimbledon semi-finalist and she was a finalist here last year. She’s obviously very comfortable on this surface. I think it was the cherry on top for me to make it to the final and make it to the weekend. I’ve always had fond memories here and to come away with the Trophy is really exciting.”

It was definitely a week to remember here in Nottingham and we hope you all enjoyed the action as much as we did and that it’s inspired you to get on court this summer here in Nottingham. Right now you can get a year’s household membership for unlimited use of the courts at both Vernon Park & Valley Road Park for just £30! To find out more about this great offer click here:

If you can’t get enough of the Nature Valley Open (like us) and want to grab your seat for next year, tickets for 2019 go on sale at 10.00am on Monday 25 June 2018. Click here to find out more:

Last but definitely not least… Did you know that the grounds team at Nottingham Tennis Centre won the Infinicut Professional Tennis Grounds Team of the Year award at the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Awards? They beat last year’s winners – the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon to take the crown. The grounds staff here are definitely the best around and the courts were prepared beautifully for the Nature Valley Open 2018 as always!! Massive Thank You to them for all of their hard work!!

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