2010 AEGON International final
By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Ice-cool Ekaterina Makarova became the first qualifier to ever claim the Eastbourne event, after winning seven matches on the trot.
The Russian world no100 stormed to her maiden career title without dropping a set all week, and sealed success with a battling 7-6 (5) 6-4 victory over Victoria Azarenka in 112 minutes.
But in the opening exchanges candyfloss pink-kitted Belarussian ace Azarenka looked to end the giant-killer’s emphatic run by racing to an opening set 3-0 lead.
The 22-year-old, playing in traditional Wimbledon white, then got some advice from her coach after the stuttering start to bounce back in style and edge the tiebreak against the world no15.
After high-pitched shrieker Azarenka sped into an early 2-1 lead in the next set, the 20-year-old part-based in Arizona and Paris, seemed to be struggling with a knee injury so called for her coach.
After the enforced break, Makarova immediately broke Azarenka’s serve to level matters at 2-2 and then went for broke to seal the set and the title to become the first unseeded Devonshire Park winner since Chanda Rubin’s 2002 triumph.
And Makarova will climb up the world rankings after her run of wins on grass, especially as prior to Eastbourne she had not registered back-to-back main draw matches this season.
The rising Russian star steamrolled to the final, including stunning victories over twice grand slam winner and compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova and recent French Open runner-up Sam Stosur of Australia.
Makarova, playing in her third career final, said:
“I started very good today and made no mistakes, but then I got a bit nervous and she came back, but I threw this from my mind and played point by point.
“I’m in shock right now, especially that I didn’t lose a set. This is just unbelievable to me, I cannot believe that I did it.
“I can’t understand yet that I’ve won. There was no secret to the success, my secret has been my great coach – the best!
“I was eating every day pasta in the same restaurant, so maybe that’s the reason! But I also like the grass and I’ve really enjoyed the week.”
Azarenka, who saw off two former Eastbourne champions – Kim Clijsters and Agnieszka Radwanska – to reach the final, would not expand on her injury and explained:
“It’s my problem, I’ll keep it to myself. I still have to treat it and I don’t want to put it out there but it’s not a big thing.”