Vicious Vesnina downs Li

2013 AEGON International, Alize Cornet, Ana Ivanovic, Elena Vesnina, Li Na
By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Elena Vesnina quarter-finalsElena Vesnina put a dent in Li Na’s warm-up for Wimbledon to reach the semi-final stage at Eastbourne and become the latest in a long line of Russian blondes changing the face of ladies tennis.
Vesnina notched a 7-5 6-3 success against the wildcard, who had a torrid time during the clay court season including a poor performance at Roland Garros – where she had previously triumphed.
The world no6 was overwhelmed by American ace Bethanie Mattek-Sands in last month’s French Open, which upset the Chinese media with her attitude about losing. And Li was aiming to warm-up for next week’s Wimbledon with a solid run at Devonshire Park.
But 26-year-old Vesnina had other plans and after snatching a tight tiebreak reeled off the second set with aplomb.
Vesnina said: “I’m really excited and I’m really enjoying this surface.”
In contrast, Li clearly did not enjoy competing on grass and only entered Eastbourne in a desperate bid to find her form ahead of SW19.
Li didn’t get much practice, drawn against two French stars. The Chinese no1 destroying Alize Cornet and was given a walkover over unwell Marion Bartoli to race into the last eight.
The world no36, ranked 30 places behind Li, had a tough route to reach the semi-finals. She dismantled Serbian Ana Ivanovic in her first contest and then saw off Guernsey girl Heather Watson before finding Li the easiest opponent in the draw so far.

Vesnina, in only her second main draw appearance at Eastbourne, is in with a real shot of collecting only her second WTA Tour title come Saturday afternoon and has made winning look effortless.

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Li’s lesson in finishing for Cornet

2013 AEGON International, Alize Cornet, Li Na, News

By Xavier Harley-Rudd

li na 2013Li Na’s less than polished performance left Alize Cornet dazed and confused after the world no6 handed her a finishing lesson on Centre Court on Tuesday.

The Chinese no1 was slow off the blocks before turning on the style to ease into the 3rd Round with a 6-2 6-4 triumph, which was delayed by 30 minutes because of a spectator injury.

Li, who hit the heady heights of becoming the 2011 French Open champion, has struggled recently and upset the media in China with abrupt comments.

But Li breezed past her French opponent despite the initial shockingly series of breaks of serve – four in the first six games.

Once Li found her footing on the surface following a testing clay court season, then she moved into cruise control to roll away with the opening set.

Cornet’s nerves showed at 2-2, losing her serve, but there came what proved to be a timely delay to the tie following a spectator injury that required East Sussex Fire Brigade to come to the rescue as they were there for a familiarisation tour.

The half-an-hour delay at least gave Cornet some time for thought, but the power game employed by gutsy Li proved too hot to handle.

 

Radwanska’s role as leading lady

2013 AEGON International, Agnieszka Radwanska, Alize Cornet, Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, Elena Baltacha, Elena Vesnina, Johanna Konta, Klara Zakopalova, Laura Robson, Li Na, Lucie Safarova, Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, Petra Kvitova, Players, Roberta Vinci, Sara Errani, Seeds, Sloane Stephens, Sorana Cirstea, Su-Wei Hsieh, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Tamira Paszek, Varvara Lepchenko, Yanina Wickmayer, Yaroslava Shvedova

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

2013 entrants and seeds

Sara ErraniSara Errani, who brilliantly battled her way to the semi-finals at Roland Garros, misses Eastbourne with a late withdrawal.
The exciting Italian is suffering from both a foot injury and an abductor strain.
But her loss has elevated Aussie ace Sam Stosur to provisionally become a seeded player, although that is dependent following her shock exit at the 2013 French Open.
Russian regular Nadia Petrova and France’s Marion Bartoli are battling it out with Stosur to take the final no8 seeding.
Stosur, who only made late applications for wildcard entries at both Birmingham and Eastbourne grass court court events, will be among the players expected to progress during the week-long tournament.
With Li Na also granted a wildcard entry following a poor performance at the 2013 French Open, then the Chinese no1 has stepped into the shoes of Errani to take over as no2 seed. Li will be extremely eager to kick start her grass court season with progress at Devonshire Park.
Two former Eastbourne champions, top seed Agnieszka Radwanska and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki will provide stiff opposition on their favourite surface.
Angelique Kerber fluffed five match points in the 2012 AEGON International final to Austrian ace Tamira Paszek, so the German star will be determined to go one step better having learnt from her mistakes.
Former Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova as never had much luck at Eastbourne, and the Czech Republic ace will be keen to put that record straight ahead of SW19.
Maria Kirilenko and Serbian star Ana Ivanovic will bring glamour to the courts as well as their amazing array of tennis weapons, although the Russian is unlikely to make much impact in a tough draw.
Seeds are:

  1. Agnieszka RADWANSKA
  2. LI Na
  3. Angelique KERBER
  4. Petra KVITOVA
  5. Caroline WOZNIACKI
  6. Maria KIRILENKO
  7. Ana IVANOVIC
  8. Nadia PETROVA

2013 entrants – exclusive

Agnieszk Radwanska
Squat a winner: Agnieszka Radwanska
CLICK HERE FOR UP-TO-DATE LADIES ENTRANTS

Ladies (WTA Tour) // Another strong line-up at Devonshire Park will see former Eastbourne champion Agnieszka Radwanska provisionally head the seedings.

The 24-year-old Pole has been a regular favourite at the AEGON International and amongst the large Polish community in the seaside town.

Ex-Eastbourne winner, and briefly the world no1, Caroline Wozniacki returns to the AEGON International keen to sharpen her grass court skills ahead of The Championships at SW1.

Czech ace Petra Kvitova knows how to win on grass, having been crowned Wimbledon champion but failing to then crack the world’s top three as predicted by experts and former players.

Rising star Sara Errani of Italy and seasoned professional Marion Bartoli of France are among other big guns who will be fired up for a shot at glory.

The players set to compete at the 2013 AEGON International are:

  1. Agniezka Radwanska (Poland)
  2. Sara Errani (Italy)
  3. Angelique Kerber (Germany)
  4. Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic)
  5. Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)
  6. Nadia Petrova (Russia)
  7. Maria Kirilenko (Russia)
  8. Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)
  9. Marion Bartoli (France)
  10. Roberta Vinci (Italy)
  11. Sloane Stephens (USA)
  12. Ekaterina Makarova (Russia)
  13. Klara Zakopalova (Czech Republic)
  14. Sorana Cirstea (Romania)
  15. Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic)
  16. Yaroslava Shvedova (Kazakhstan)
  17. Tamira Paszek (Austria)
  18. Alize Cornet (France)
  19. Varvara Lepchenko (USA)
  20. Elena Vesnina (Russia)
  21. Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia)
  22. Laura Robson (Great Britain)
  23. Su-Wei Hsieh (Taipei)
  24. Yanina Wickmayer (Belgium)
2013 AEGON International, Agnieszka Radwanska, Alize Cornet, Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, Elena Vesnina, EXCLUSIVE, Flavia Pennetta, Klara Zakopalova, Ladies Singles, Laura Robson, Li Na, Lucie Safarova, Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, Petra Kvitova, Players, Roberta Vinci, Sara Errani, Sloane Stephens, Sorana Cirstea, Su-Wei Hsieh, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Tamira Paszek, Varvara Lepchenko, WTA Players, Yanina Wickmayer, Yaroslava Shvedova

2011 Ladies pre-tournament news

Alize Cornet, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, EXCLUSIVE, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, WTA Players

by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Serena and Venus Williams@EBDraw’s double trouble | Serena and Venus Williams are dangerously unseeded in a top-quality draw of 32 that has attracted most of the world’s top players.

Wildcard Serena makes her competitive comeback since being crowned 2010 Wimbledon Championship and faces Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova in the opening round, and if victorious plays the winner of top see Vera Zvonareva and British wildcard Heather Watson. Serena could face Sam Stosur or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarter-finals and probably Victoria Azarenka or Marion Bartoli in the last four.

Venus last played in January’s Australian Open and will play no8 seed Andrea Petkovic in the first round, the same player that she retired against at Melbourne.

“We’re not here for results, but we are going to do our best to take home titles. I’m very excited to be back, I love playing – it’s my job”

– Venus Williams

Shine the lights it’s ‘Vogue’ | Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was one of a number of WTA Tour stars to be involved in Saturday’s photo-shoot for the Turkish version of ‘Vogue’ magazine. Pavlyuchenkova turned up for practice at Devonshire Park with her hair still up and in full make-up to hit with glamour girl Julia Goerges. The German ace said: “I’ll play Ana (Ivanovic) in the 1st Round, there are tough draws here at Eastbourne – it’s nice getting straight away into great competition on grass.”

Australian Sam StosurStosur serves her predictions | Gutsy Australian Sam Stosur, an Eastbourne regular and current world’s no 10, will face Russian Nadia Petrova in the opening round and said: “There’s a handful of people who can do very well and on form I think Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova and Julia Goerges are possibly playing best.”

“I grew up playing on a hardcourt so I’d like think I’ve got a reasonable chance although grass is probably the most difficult for me.

“You’ve got to take it each match at a time and try not think ‘the last few months haven’t been as good as I wanted them to be and this this isn’t going to be a good tournament’.”

Brit special for top pair | Nottingham finalist Elena Baltacha and Heather Watson, the British no1 and no2 respectively, have been handed wildcards – as expected.

The world no74 Baltacha made the 2nd Round of the French Open and has been drawn against French ace Aravan Rezai, Guernsey’s Watson recently cracked the world’s top 100 but faces a stern test as she been handed a draw against top seed Vera Zvonareva.

“I got amazing support at Birmingham, let’s see if Eastbourne can match it”

– Heather Watson

British no3 Anne Keothavong saw off France’s Alize Cornet in the opening round of qualifying 6-4 6-2, but the other four Brits – Naomi Broady, Anna Fitzpatyrick, Kate O’Brien and Emily Webley-Smith were all halted at the first hurdle.

Ana Ivanovic bounces backIvanovic hits great form | Serbian star Ana Ivanovic warmed-up for Eastbourne in style at Birmingham, reeling off her first three matches in under three hours to march into a semi-final showdown with fellow Eastbourne entrant Daniela Hantuchova.

The former world no1 was having a resurge following her French Open exit, despite seeking a new coach after she stopped working with Heinz Gunthard, until Hantuchova halted her 6-7 6-3 6-2. Ivanovic, who is currently only travelling with a hitting partner, said:

“Things happen very fast on grass, but it was the first time I have played four matches in a row for a long time.

“I have to find a good coach, someone who will commit and be willing to travel, and someone with whom to get along because you do seem to spend a lot of time together.”

Kleybanova K’O’d | Russian ace Alisa Kleybanova, who withdrew from the French Open citing illness, has withdrawn from Eastbourne and the Wimbledon Championships.

Martina NavratilovaNavratilova replaces Novotna | The legendary Martina Navratilova has replaced Jana Novotna in the Legends Exhibition event at Eastbourne between 12-13 June. Navratilova (pictured) triumphed in 11 singles titles at Devonshire Park, and joins Spaniard Conchita Martinez and Swiss Martina Hingis in the event that includes Holland’s Wimbledon winner Richard Kraijeck, French flair master Henri Leconte and former British no1 Greg Rusedski.

King is coming | Two-time Grand Slam Doubles champion Vania King (pictured) will make her Eastbourne debut after Russian Alisa Kleybanova withdrew from the tournament and Wimbledon.

Vania KingThe American Fed Cup player, who followed German Julia Goerges into Eastbourne on June 9, joins her high-profile compatriots Serena and Venus Williams in the most competitive tournament ever seen at Devonshire Park but has to go through qualifying.

King said: “I’m looking forward to the challenge, but Eastbourne’s cold and windy. I can’t go out and rely on hitting a serve or a big shot as I’m only 5’5”, so I have to be creative. I can still improve on a lot of things, including my movement, but I look forward to playing.

Kanepi’s warm-up killed | Kaia Kanepi was upstaged by Russian qualifier Arina Rodionova 6-4 6-2 at Birmingham’s AEGON Classic as top seed.

The Estonian world no17 said: “Last year when I played in qualifying it was much easier for me in the main draw, I didn’t move her around and it’s pretty difficult to have a ‘Plan B’ on grass if your game’s not working.”

Serena's Back!Serena eager for Eastbourne | Four-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams (pictured) will make her Eastbourne debut as a wildcard. The 13-Grand Slam winner joins her sister Venus in the main draw on their competitive comeback,

Serena said: “Serena’s back! I’m excited to be healthy enough to compete, as these past 12 months have been extremely tough and character-building. I’m thankful to my family, friends and fans for their support and really looking to playing on grass again.”

Serena watched Venus from the sidelines at the 1998 event at Devonshire Park, where Venus won two matches but fell in the third – more distracted my her falling beads onto the grass courts than her opponent.

French Open winnersFrench Open champs set for Eastbourne | China’s Li Na, crowned as Asia’s first ever Grand Slam singles champion at Roland Garros, is likely to skip Birmingham and concentrate on warming up for Wimbledon by competing at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park.

The classic French Open never materialised as powerhouse Li staved off a set point to beat defending French Open winner Francesca Schiavone, an Eastbourne regular, 6-4 7-6. Li is set to move up to world no4 and is the probable top seed for the 2011 AEGON International.

Eastbourne beachAll that glistens is not gold | Many local residents are fuming with the LTA over their latest tennis posters and flyers that airbrushes all the stones from its beach and replaces them with golden sands.

Eastbourne councillor David Elkin explained: “The shingle is an iconic part of Eastbourne.” And an LTA spokesman admitted: “We wanted to create a buzz and it appears that we’ve done so.”

Our team at EastbourneTennis.com have had to answer emails and texts asking whether the beach (pictured) is now sandy as they would holiday at the seaside resort rather than just turn up for the day.

Sharapova still yet to make debut | Russian beauty Maria Sharapova sensationally withdrew from the AEGON Classic at Edgbaston’s Priory Club, her usual haunt as a Wimbledon warm-up, with an illness sustained during her semi-final defeat at the French Open. Although the ex-Wimbledon champion has never played at Eastbourne, it was hoped that she may opt for a wildcard entry for Devonshire Park this year.

Venus WilliamsVenus’ star turn | Venus Williams will compete at Eastbourne for the first time since 1998. The 30-year-old (right) usually returns to her Florida base to prepare for Wimbledon after Roland Garros. But the five-time Wimbledon champion hasn’t played on the WTA Tour since the 2011 Australian Open, where she retired because of a hip injury in the third round.

She has signed up with her sister Serena to play in July’s World Team Tennis League in America, a nine-game event devised by ex-professional Billie Jean-King straight after playing Wimbledon.

Stosur sets goal | Sam Stosur, the 2010 French Open finalist, returns to Devonshire Park having reached the 2010 AEGON International semi-finals. The Australian fell to eventual shock champion Russian Ekaterina Makarova.

Stosur, a favourite at Eastbourne, said: I’m so excited to be returning to Eastbourne and I’m hopeful of going even further this year at Devonshire Park. Andrea Petkovic’s ranking ascension shows no signs of slowing down, as a month after she rose to a career-high No.15, she went up three more spots following her victory in Strasbourg.

Petrovic on the rise | Andreas Petrovic, who cracked the world’s top 25 at the start of this season, is edging ever closer to becoming the first German on the WTA Tour to become a top 10 hit since compatriot Anke Huber in October 2000.

Hingis returns | Former professional Martina Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam champion and a doubles winner at Eastbourne, is set to play in The Legends exhibition event at Devonshire Park on 12-13 June.

The ‘Swiss Miss’ will play in the singles on the opening Sunday and with Boris Becker in the mixed doubles on the Monday.

Hingis said: “I’ve got fond memories of the event as I won the 1999 doubles event with Anna Kournikova, so it’s a delight to be invited back to Eastbourne.”

Caroline WozniackiWozniacki skips Eastbourne | Caroline Wozniacki is a surprise not to be playing at Eastbourne 2011, having won so spectacularly in 2009. The great Dane and world no1 lacked her usual bite at Devonshire Park last year and will instead play in the UNICEF Open in the Netherlands.

However, rumours are rife that Wozniacki avoided Devonshire Park this year as she did not want to face her nemesis German ace Julia Goerges before Wimbledon. Wozniacki said: “I can’t wait to play the grass season again.”

Ladies – Monday 14 June 2010

Alize Cornet, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Lucie Safarova, Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, News, Players, Sam Stosur, Sorana Cirstea, WTA Players, Yanina Wickmayer

2010 AEGON International

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Stosur-Eastbourne 2010Stosur back with a bang

French Open runner-up Sam Stosur bounced back from her disappointment of losing in Paris, her first grand slam final, by dismissing 18-year-old American teenager Melanie Oudin 6-4, 6-4.

The Australian no3 seed made a stuttering start, but her trademark kick serve paid dividends to see off brave battler Oudin – a quarter-finalist at the 2009 US Open.

Stosur now faces former top 10 player Daniela Hantuchova, following the Slovak’s comfortable win over London-based British wild card Anne Keothavong 6-4, 6-2. Ever-improving Hantuchova finished runner-up at Eastbourne 2004.

Former Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli, who has reached the semi-final stage at Devonshire Park for the past three seasons, steamed on with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Russian Vera Dushevina, the 2005 Eastbourne runner-up.

French ace Bartoli next meets Hungarian Agnes Szavay in the round of 16, who struggled to see off Belarussian Olga Govortsova 3-6, 6-2, 7-6

Czech star Lucie Safarova held off Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the battle of the babes on Court 4 with a thrilling 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 triumph.

And Russian Vera Zvonareva put up a brave fight before bowing out 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 to Spain’s Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez.

Matches played

Daniela Hantuchova defeated Anne Keothavong 6-4 6-2
Lucie Safarova defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 3-6 6-4
Marion Bartoli defeated Vera Dushevina 6-4 7-5
Maria-Jose Marinez Sanchez defeated Vera Zvonareva 6-3 3-6 7-5
Sam Stosur defeated Melanie Oudin 6-4 6-4
Agnes Szavay defeated Olga Govortsova 3-6 6-2 7-6

TUESDAY PREVIEW

This week’s top seeds are reigning Eastbourne champion and US Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki and surprise French Open champion Francesca Schiavone. Wozniacki faces French babe Aravane Rezai, while Schiavone tackles Romanian beauty Sorana Cirstea.

Wozniacki is defending her title, having defeated France’s Virginie Razzano in last year’s final to capture her only career grass-court tournament on the WTA Tour.

US Open champ Kim Clijsters is seeded fifth this week and will return to action after being sidelined with a foot injury since April. Former world no1 Clijsters – and Eastbourne 2005 champion – faces Belgian Fed Cup team-mate Yanina Wickmayer.