2010 AEGON International
By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Battling Bartoli takes thriller
Bartoli defeated Martinez-Sanchez 5-7 6-4 7-6(5)
French ace Marion Bartoli scraped her way into a fourth successive Eastbourne semi-final despite being outplayed by the impressive Spaniard in a marathon match.
Marie-Jose Martinez-Sanchez was quickest to the ball and thundered nine aces in the opening set, but Bartoli’s swift footwork and steely determination took the first set to a tight conclusion.
But Martinez-Sanchez seemed to run out of steam in the second set as the Bartoli started racing towards the net and force errors. With matters levelled, it was anyone’s match but Bartoli took the early initiative to carve out an early lead.
Martinez-Sanchez was equal to everything thrown at her in the decisive set, and bounced back with a further four aces to force a tiebreak.
Bartoli sped away into a 4-1 advantage but was soon pegged back and it was a close contest, but former Wimbledon runner-up Bartoli used her guile and experience to seal a fantastic victory and another chance to make the final at Devonshire Park.
|Marion Bartoli||M-J Martinez-Sanchez|
|Oct 02, 1984||Birthday||Aug 12, 1982|
|25 years||Age||27 years|
|9 (2008)||Highest rank||19 (2010)|
All steam ahead for stuttering Stosur
Stosur defeated Baltacha 6-7(5) 6-1 6-0
Powerful Sam Stosur was slow off the blocks in a boring battle on Centre Court’s opening match of the day, but bounced back to wipe the floor with British no1 Elena Baltacha.
The Scot exceeded her expectations at Devonshire Park with back-to-back wins over top quality Chinese opponents to reach her first Eastbourne quarter-final, and looked likely to stun French Open runner-up Stosur.
After Baltacha nicked the first set on the tiebreak, Stosur turned on the style to humble her opponent with powerful serves and steady backhand winners.
The tough Aussie steamed into her second semi-final at Devonshire Park, dictating the pace of each point. But the polite crowd seemed more enthusiastic towards sleeping in the sun after popping Champagne corks than supporting Baltacha in the battle of black-kitted muscle women.
|Sam Stosur||Elena Baltacha|
|Mar 30, 1984||Birthday||Aug 14, 1983|
|26 years||Age||26 years|
|7 (2010)||Highest rank||59 (2010)|
Azarenka arrives to call the big shots
Azarenka defeated Clijsters 7-6(6) 6-4
Brilliant Belarussian Victoria Azarenka continued to turn the form books on their head but outgunning and out-shrieking fans favourite Kim Clijsters in straight sets.
It was a wondrous win for Azarenka in the Centre Court thriller, having to dig deep and stay composed for the most crucial points to bravely battle past the US Open champion and former Eastbourne winner.
Azarenka fluffled chances to seal the opening set, hindered by the blustery conditions, but deservedly won the tense tiebreak in a marathon 62 minute opening set.
Clijsters bounced back to her best to reel off a seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead, with a tremendous serve followed by a powerful cross-court forehand winner, and then 4-2.
However Azarenka played beyond her years to steadily steal big points and somehow level matters, thanks to hitting two double-faults from under pressure Clijsters.
The unseeded Belarussian held her nerve to edge ahead, leaving Clijsters to serve to stay in the tournament. But Clijsters, willed on by the crowd, completely choked and hit three forehand shots into the net to gift Ararenka her first Eastbourne semi-final appearance.
I’m very happy to have won, despite the windy conditions. I’m playing well here on grass, and it was a good decision to play here after having to withdraw for the last two years. I’ll take each match as it comes before Wimbledon
|Victoria Azarenka||Kim Clijsters|
|Jul 31, 1989||Birthday||Jun 08, 1983|
|20 years||Age||27 years|
|6 (2010)||Highest rank||1 (2006)|
Makarova lines up title ambition
Makarova defeated Kuznetsova 6-4 7-5
Qualifier Ekaterina Makarova ended Svetlana Kuznetsova’s impressive run in straight sets and 90 minutes in front of subdued fans on Court No1, which was marred by a string of controversial line calls.
The all-Russian clash saw favourite and wildcard Kuznetsova, the world no20 and former Eastbourne winner, frustrated by neat play and powerful shots from her compatriot.
In a very close contest, former US Open and French Open champion Kuznetsova struggled with the blustery conditions in the opening set to serve up three aces that were cancelled out by as double-faults.
Makarova moved into the lead by nicking the first set thanks to solid play and a string of powerful drives that stunned Kuznetsova.
The second set was better quality, with fewer mistakes and stronger serves. Kuznetsova chased the match and saved five out of seven break points, but the 22-year-old kept plugging away and toughed it out to register an emphatic result.
|Ekaterina Makarova||Svetlana Kuznetsova|
|Jun 27, 1985||Birthday||Jun 07, 1988|
|24 years||Age||22 years|
|2 (2008)||Highest rank||35 (2009)|