Twice Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova is the first of the familiar faces to confirm that she returning to Devonshire Park for the 2015 event, for what is considered to be the world’s friendliest international tennis tournament.
With the Men dispatched back to Nottingham having not attracted the top class players that the Aegon International was expecting, a new format with a bumper-sized draw of 64 arrives at Eastbourne for 2015.
Kvitova, the Czech world #4, finished Eastbourne runner-up to Marion Bartoli in 2011 and last year fell at the quarter-final stage prior to capturing the Wimbledon crown.
“I’m really excited to be returning to Eastbourne because it is a special tournament for me and the intimate site is a great place for the fans to get close to the action.
“As usual every match is tough, which makes it the perfect warm-up event before Wimbledon.”
Kvitova on paper at least should claim her inaugural success at Eastbourne. However, the exact entrants have yet to be confirmed and if the Williams’ sisters – Serena and Venus – return after last competing at Devonshire Park in 2011, then the Czech left-hander will no doubt find Serena as her biggest rival to winning.
And Kvitova is raring to go and make 2015 a memorable year, having taking time away from the circuit to recharge her batteries.
She added, “Playing tennis for me has always meant doing something I love, and doing it with a lot of passion, but from the start of 2015 I just didn’t have that — I felt I was fighting this strange feeling rather than the opponent.
“After we made the decision to miss Indian Wells and Miami I went four weeks without having a tennis racquet in my hand and just rested — I know that I made the right decision.”
Karolina Pliskova, Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova will be expected to join compatriot Kvitova for the tournament.
Caroline Wozniacki is expected to sign up again and won Eastbourne 2009 as a talented teenager, bagging her first grass-court crown with a straight sets success over France’s Virginie Razzano. The Danish ace won the hearts of the Eastbourne Tennis fans during the tournament and has been a regular ever since to the sunny south coast event.
Former Eastbourne champions, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska (2008) and Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova (2010), are also in with a shot of taking the glory again as they remain prominent in the WTA top 20 ranking with reliable results.
Ana Ivanovic, an ex-French Open champion, has battled her way back into the elite without producing spectacular results at the Majors. Yet surprisingly the Serbian pin-up has failed to ignite the Devonshire Park courts with her talents.
This year could see the former world #1, whose all-round game has been superbly sharpened, triumph. And likewise, compatriot Jelena Jankovic has failed to make much impact at Eastbourne.
The German contingent of former Eastbourne finalist Angelique Kerber, Julia Goerges, Sabine Lisicki and Andrea Petkovic are expected to grace Devonshire Park.
Madison Keys is anticipated to defend her Aegon International title, with the United States likely to have a sprinkling of talented players in the main draw such as Varvara Lepchenko, Christina McHale, Alison Riske, Sloane Stephens and Coco Vandeweghe.
Although Keys stole the limelight by winning the 2014 Aegon International, there were some fresh faces who caused a sensation at the tournament including the gutsy Italian Camila Giorgi and Switzerland’s latest sensation Belinda Bencic – so no doubt they will be eager to repeat their feats but go even further in 2015.
Guernsey’s Heather Watson, Britain’s biggest hope for a future star, has worked tirelessly to break into the WTA top 40 and with the added bonus of home support will be ever hopeful of progressing further up the world rankings.