By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
2011 AEGON International at Eastbourne
Williams wilts to top seed Zvonareva
Top seed Vera Zvonareva battled past wildcard Serena Williams in a three set thriller 3-6 7-6 7-5.
The Russian star always held the upper hand in what became a baseline battle of attrition with neither player looking jolly on Centre Court.
It was a dour encounter, miserable-looking Williams seemed determined to fight from the back of the court and try to end points swiftly on her service games then wearing her opponent out on their serve.
Williams possessed the power strokes when she needed it but chased a ball all match, determined to preserve her energy.
Her tactics resulted in the opening set without breaking a sweat but she lost the second set on a tie-break 7-5 after taking a tumble on set point. Zvonareva’s array of weapons from the baseline carved out a 5-3 lead but the American superstar fought back to 5-5 before bowing out 7-5.
Bartoli blasts past Martinez-Sanchez
Seeded Marion Bartoli looked formidable as she taught Spanish star Marie-Jose Sanchez-Martinez (left) a lesson on how to win on grass with a comfortable 6-3 6-3 triumph.
The unorthodox French ace, an Eastbourne regular, stared defeat in the face yesterday but survived to tell the tale and lifted her game to easily despatch her opponent.
Bartoli started to rally in the opening set, but with the advantage and Sanchez-Martinez struggling near the net she cleverly mixed up her game to run out a worthy winner.
Radwanska races past Schiavone
Exhausted looking French Open runner-up Francesca Schiavone succumbed to 2008 Eastbourne champion Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets 6-3 6-2.
The Polish ace was in total control from the start and breezed past the London-based Italian courtesy of an attacking game plan that paid dividends.
Radwanska’s speed around court and string of winners from the baseline gave Schiavone a lesson in grass court tactics as she cruised into the quarter-finals of arguably the toughest tournament ever at Devonshire Park.
Kvitova kills off Russian star
Seeded Petra Kvitova ousted defending champion Ekaterina Makarova in two tight tie-breaks to book a quarter-final berth.
The Russian star, who was the last direct entry into the main draw and who almost did not defend her title won so majestically, seemed on course to continue her exceptional Devonshire Park run until Kvitova sneaked the first tie-break 10-8.
The second set was neck-and-neck with another tie-break required, that the Czech ace won 7-4 for 7-6 7-6 result.
Stosur storms past qualifier
Gutsy Australian Sam Stosur overwhelmed qualifier Bojana Jovanski 6-3 6-2 in blustery conditions and stays on course to equal her best Eastbourne run of a semi-final spot.
The up-and-coming Serbian star seemed to run out of energy after an impressive run at Devonshire Park and wilted without much of a battle. Stosur’s all-round game, preened from years of playing doubles, produced excellent winners and good volleying although her suspect backhand was again exploited.
Venom of Venus sees off Ivanovic
Unseeded Venus Williams overpowered ever-improving and slim-lined Ana Ivanovic (left) 6-3 6-2 despite having problems with her serve.
The American ace was eager to swiftly end rallies and stayed predominately as the baseline, but Ivanovic was in cruise control on her service games until an umpire overrule resulted in the Serbian star denied the chance to level matters and instead lost her serve to trail 3-1.
Williams applied the pressure to seal the opening set in 33 minutes. Ivanovic foolishly changed tactics for the second set, which became a basement battle that Williams won with a string of thunderbolt drives.
Brave Baltacha bounces out
British no1 Elena Baltacha fell in straight sets 6-1 7-6 to no3 seed Victoria Azarenka on Court 1, ending her hopes of equalling last year’s Eastbourne run to the quarter-finals.
The Belarussian was in formidable form to give the battling Brit the runaround from the start to cruise in the opening set. With the supportive crowd looking for more of a contest Baltacha lifted her game a few gears and forced Azarenka into making errors.
A one-sided tie-break followed but the adventurous Azarenka showed no fear and overpowered her opponent with a string of brave winners without dropping a single point.