Lopez leaves his legacy to sink Simon

2013 AEGON International, Feliciano LOPEZ, Gilles SIMON, Men's Singles, News

Feliciano Lopez 2013 championSpanish serve and volleyer Feliciano Lopez saw off former world no6 Gilles Simon 7-6 6-7 6-0 to claim only his third ATP Tour crown.

Both players were competing in their first ever final on grass, but were unable to play to their usual high standard because of the blustery conditions on Centre Court.

Lopez’s style is rare for a Spaniard, utilising slice shots to taking command at the net as well as thundering drives, but the weather did not permit for his full array of dangerous weapons to appear.

After a cagey couple of sets, the third set proved to be disappointing in both terms of quality and the way that Simon surrendered.

Lopez, the world no39, pulled off some impressive results – outfoxing Argentine Juan Monaco, compatriot Fernando Verdasco, Croatian Ivan Dodig and then Simon – to move onto Wimbledon as a winner.

He will face Simon again across the court in his very next competitive match, scheduled for Tuesday’s 1st Round contest at SW19, to make it two meetings in four days having not faced each other for five years.

Lopez, a three-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist, saidgille simon final:

“Grass is my best surface, and to have at least one title on grass is very nice feeling.

“It is important to have some feedback before playing the same guy in two days, even though we know each other very well because almost every week we see each other.

“This match was really special, because it’s great to be in the finals and it was an opportunity to win another ATP event.”

Simon arrived at Devonshire Park having stuttered during the clay court season, following up a 1st Round exit at Monte Carlo in May with hefty defeats to the big guns of Andy Murray and Roger Federer at Madrid and Rome respectively.

He suddenly got his game on track on home soil at the French Open, taking Swiss master Federer to five sets in their 4th Round encounter. This result propelled him into Eastbourne high on confidence.

But the no2 seed almost came unstuck in his first match, requiring two tiebreaks to polish off British wildcard Kyle Edmund in their 2nd Round meeting.Australian ace Bernard Tomic was his next victim followed by a formidable display to easily oust no 7 seed Andreas Seppi, to deny the Italian a third successive Eastbourne final.

Simon’s game fell apart in the third set against Lopez, with neither able to produce their best tennis.

Lopez said:

“I hope that we can play a better match at Wimbledon because today’s weather conditions made it tricky for us both.”

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Simon secures Seppi scalp

2013 AEGON International, Andreas Seppi, Gilles SIMON, Men's Singles, News

Gilles Simon semi-finalGilles Simon denied Andreas Seppi a place in his third successive Eastbourne final, defeating the Italian 6-4 6-3.

The no2 seed set up a final showdown with Spanish star Feliciano Lopez – which will be a warm-up for their Wimbledon 1st Round clash on Tuesday.

Simon will be attempting to emulate French compatriot Michael Llodra who beat fended off a Spaniard, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, in the 2010 AEGON International at Devonshire Park.

Seppi has a tendency to make stuttering starts, and had a straightforward run to the final four. He saw off two qualifiers, France’s Guiliaume Rufin and American Ryan Harrison, in three sets but then found his feet to ease past Czech veteran Radek Stepanek for the loss of just six games.

But he was outclassed by Simon, whose trampoline effect of taking the pace off the ball upset his usual style of play.

A close opening set saw Simon have the slight edge but notch up through the gears to breeze into the final with an emphatic second set display.

Simon was in control until he lost his serve at 5-2 in the second set, but sealed success by immediately breaking the no7 seed to win in 84 minutes.

“It was a real battle from the baseline. Andreas is just a good player, he won here two years ago and he made the final here last year.

“He has very good timing, so he never misses stupid shots. You have to work and play great against him. We played a very high level second set today.”

The no2 seed faces Feliciano Lopez in the final, both storming to straight sets triumphs, for their first meeting in five years – and the pair will clash again at next week’s Wimbledon.

Simon said:

“It’s always a strange situation, but I just have to focus on the first match.

“It’s going to be a tough match, he’s a very good grass court player and he has played a great tournament until now. I hope I will play the same kind of tennis as today.”

The 28-year-old from Nice has a 10-3 record in ATP World Tour finals but has yet to claim a grass court title, seeking to become the second French Eastbourne winner in four years by following in the footsteps of Michael Llodra’s 2010 success story.

Lopez roars past Dodig

2013 AEGON International, Feliciano LOPEZ, Ivan DODIG, Men's Singles, News

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Lopez semi-final winFeliciano Lopez sailed past Ivan Dodig 7-6 6-1 to reach his first grass court final.

The Spanish star edged the opening set but ran out an easy winner to avenge his 2011 Barcelona defeat in his only previous meeting with Dodig.

Lopez, a three-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist, appeared comfortable on grass as he eased his way into the final.

And he faces France’s Gilles Simon for a shot at glory, as a warm-up for their showdown on Tuesday at SW19.

Lopez said: “With these conditions it is very difficult, but I’ve only been here once before so I know it is windy because of the sea. But today was the first time this week that it was windy on court.

“I’m very happy to have won my way to the final, it’s good for my confidence – it’s definitely a good feeling for me.

“Whether I win or lose tomorrow, I will take some feedback into my match at Wimbledon on Tuesday. Obviously I would prefer to win here because it is the final and it is not easy to win a tournament.

“Hopefully I can play like this until the end of the season and improve my ranking, it’s a good feeling to be in the final at Eastbourne.”

Lopez faces no2 seed Gilles Simon in Saturday’s final, both players sealing straight set semi-finals successes, for their first meeting in five years.

Simon secured a victory on the indoor hard courts at Rotterdam in 2008, but the pair are due to clash twice in the space of four days when they play again at Wimbledon.

Lopez said, “This is tennis, and sometimes these things can happen. In a way it is good.”

Lopez only needed 65 minutes to sweep aside Dodig to reach his second ATP World Tour final of the season, having finished Memphis runner-up in February.

Men’s entrants

2013 AEGON International, Alexandr DOLGOPOLOV, Andreas Seppi, Bernard TOMIC, Denis Istomin, EXCLUSIVE, Fabio FOGNINI, Feliciano LOPEZ, Fernando VERDASCO, Gilles SIMON, Grega ZEMLJA, Ivan DODIG, Jarkko NIEMINEN, Juan MONACO, Julien BENNETEAU, Kevin ANDERSON, Martin KLIZAN, Men's Singles, News, Philipp KOHLSCHREIBER, Players, Radek STEPANEK, Thomaz BELLUCCI, Viktor TROICKI

2013 entrants – exclusive

Title contender: Gilles Simon

CLICK HERE FOR LATEST ENTRANT NEWS

Men (ATP Tour) // Gilles Simon,the 28-year-old from Nice, is set to be the provisional top seed as the highest ranked of the eight from the world’s top 20 ATP players due compete at the 2103 AEGON International.

Simon, who reached the dizzy heights of world no6 is nicknamed Gilou with his most significant success over Rafael Nadal in Madrid five years ago. Although British fans will probably remember him bowing out to Olympic champion Andy Murray at the 2013 Australian Open.

Argentinian Juan Monaco and former Eastbourne champion Andreas Seppi of Italy make up the trio of top 20 players.

Yet there are five other aces who will also be vying to become the no1 seed at Eastbourne, namely Phillip Kohlschreiber, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Fabio Fognini, Kevin Anderson, Martin Klizan and Julien Benneteau.

The entrants confirmed are:

  1. Gilles SIMON (France)
  2. Juan MONACO (Argentina)
  3. Andreas SEPPI (Italy)
  4. Philipp KOHLSCHREIBER (Germany)
  5. Alexandr DOLGOPOLOV (Ukraine)
  6. Fabio FOGNINI (Italy)
  7. Kevin ANDERSON (South Africa)
  8. Martin KLIZAN (Slovakia)
  9. Julien BENNETEAU (France)
  10. Thomaz BELLUCCI (Brazil)
  11. Jarkko NIEMINEN (Finland)
  12. Viktor TROICKI (Serbia)
  13. Feliciano LOPEZ (Spain)
  14. Denis ISTOMIN (Uzbekistan)
  15. Radek STEPANEK (Czech Republic)
  16. Ivan DODIG (Croatia)
  17. Grega ZEMLJA (Slovenia)
  18. Bernard TOMIC (Australia)
  19. Fernando VERDASCO (Spain)

Bring on Berdych

EXCLUSIVE, Men's Singles, Players

Tomas Berdych

Big hit: Tomas Berdych

With the names of this year’s competitors in the Men’s AEGON International being a closely guarded secret by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), there are four players who definitely will not be at Devonshire Park.

Marcos Baghdatis, who made an unspectacular appearance at Eastbourne, has signed up for the Topshelf Open in the Netherlands that takes place during the same week as the 2013 AEGON International.

Spaniard David Ferrer, American giant John Isner and Pole Stanislas Wawrinka are also among the names to warm up for Wimbledon in Holland.

Yet Czech star Tomas Berdych seems to be the most likely – and probably only – top 10 player from the ATP Tour to visit Eastbourne, although that will obviously depend on his progress at the previous week’s event at Queen’s Club in London as to whether he will opt for a wildcard entry.

Former Czech Republic aces have frequented Devonshire Park in the past, and the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up will listen to advice from coach Ivan Ljubicic about whether to warm-up for the Championships at Devonshire Park if Queens doesn’t go to plan.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was displeased with having to commit to play at Eastbourne after he reached the 2011 final at Queen’s Club, which was completed on the Monday due to the weather.

But the French ace had signed up to compete at the AEGON International, so begrudgingly played and at the ensuing press conference following defeat blasted the schedule. He has vowed never to return to Eastbourne.

Olympic champion Andy Murray is another player unlikely to ever make an AEGON International appearance, especially after his mother Judy strongly criticised Eastbourne and called it a “sleepy town”.

The usual suspects that are probable arrivals at Eastbourne include South African Kevin Anderson, Spaniard Pablo Andujar, France’s Julien Benneteau, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt, Poland’s Lukasz Kubot, Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu, Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen, American Sam Querrey, Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky and Russian Dmitry Tursunov.