British No 1 Anne Keothavong bids to take the DFS Classic into unprecedented territory today when she faces on one of the favourites for the tournament, Alona Bondarenko.
If the Londoner wins she will become the fourth Briton to reach the second round following first day victories for Naomi Cavaday, Katie O’Brien and Mel South in an domestic battle with Anna Fitzpatrick.
That would provide further evidence of an upturn in fortunes in the women’s game which for so long has been the butt of tabloid jokes and would confirm her own rise up the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings that is some way short of meteoric but a long way past significant.
After reaching the final at Surbiton last weekend the 24-year-old improved her standing by four places to 92 and success against Bondarenko at the Edgbaston Priory Club would give her the perfect pre-Wimbledon boost.
But she has a poor record at this tournament having won just one of her previous seven matches and at No 29 fifth seed Bondarenko represents a huge step up in class.
After Monday's Brit Fest, Centre Court opens its doors to the rest of the world today with Sybille Bammer following Keothavong when she takes on South.
The Austrian’s compatriot Tamira Paszek is third on and should have no problems dispatching Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand. Michaella Krajicek follows with her tie against qualifier Tatiani Poutchek and there is also the treat of World No 1 doubles pair Cara Black and Liezel Huber.
Beaten French Open doubles finalist Casey Dellacqua, the 11th seed, is second on Court Two while Court One was the all French clash Severine Bremond and Nathalie Dechy.
The big hitters get underway on Wednesday, however. Marion Bartoli last year’s Wimbledon runner up will face either Meng Yuan of China or the Czech Republic’s Petra Cetkovska, while Nicole Vaidisova meets the winner of the Dechy-Bremond clash.