Vesnina hits top gear to take crown

2013 AEGON International, Elena Vesnina, Jamie Hampton, Ladies Singles, News

vesnina final delightElena Vesnina captured her second crown of the season after crushing jittery American qualifier Jamie Hampton 6-2 6-1 on Saturday.

Vesnina, who had lost six WTA Tour finals on the bounce before finally securing her maiden crown at Hobart in January, outplayed the 23-year-old in 76 minutes in a totally one-sided affair.
Vesnina said:

“It was really difficult to play today, we were both struggling with the wind, so I’m pretty happy about my game today with these tough conditions.

“I was trying to play safe, trying to use slice a little bit more just to make Jamie kind of play low balls because it’s really difficult to control the ball.

“When I had the opportunity I was just trying to play aggressive and deep so that Jamie didn’t have time to attack, that was my game plan.”

Hampton seemed both exhausted and nervous in her seventh match of the tournament, making a series of unforced errors – 24 in total – but will learn from her experience in her maiden WTA final.

Doubles expert Vesnina, who won the Ladies Doubles at Roland Garros, made mincemeat of hapless Hampton and saved all five break points to cruise to victory.

Vesnina ran away with the opening set after 39 minutes, the American two back-spinning sliced backhand winners the only highlight for Hampton.

Vesnina had roared into a 3-0 second set lead on the hour mark, but then let down her guard for the nine minutes that the sun briefly brightened up the Centre Court.

This little ray of sunshine lit up Hampton’s game, she won her serve – much to the delight of the Centre Court crowd – and battled to four deuces on Vesnina’s serve, but once the grey clouds returned so did the the American’s dreary strokes.

There was no way back for Hampton, Vesnina wrapping up the second set by breaking serve in the sixth game and then ot dropping a point in her serve to make Eastbourne her second WTA Tour title of the season.

Hampton said: “I was surprised how she was even hitting the ball in the court as the conditions were definitely tougher than yesterday.

“I’m disappointed that I lost today, but I learned a lot from this week – a lot of firsts for my and my ranking is improving.”

Vesnina’s opening triumph against Serbian top 20 player Ana Ivanovic was bettered by a formidable thrashing of Li Na, the 2011 French Open winner, at the quarter-final stage.

eb2013finalRiding high on confidence, the Russian brushed aside former US Open semi-finalist Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium in under an hour and is expected to make an impact at Wimbledon.

Vesnina added: “At Wimbledon I would just like to pass the 1st Round. I will take it step by step. I don’t like to think about it, it’s just that it’s a Grand Slam so everyone is hungry to win.

“This is the most popular Grand Slam, everyone is waiting for this tournament and everyone is trying their best to show their best tennis there. I’m just focusing on every single match.

“I don’t want to think about that right now, I just want to enjoy my time in Eastbourne and enjoy my title – but I’m going to find time tonight to celebrate with my friends in London.”

Hampton took out some high profile names to reach the final, accounting for top seed Agnieszka Radwanska, Czech ace Lucie Safarova and former world no1 Caroline Wozniacki.
She started the 2013 AEGON International as a virtual unknown in qualifying as world no41, but finished her eight-day stint elevated to world no28 having delivered the knockout blow to two former Eastbourne champions – Poland’s Radwanska and Dane Wozniacki.

Hampton moves on to the next grass court tournament at Wimbledon, where she is set for a showdown against no17 seed and compatriot Sloane Stephens.

The German-born all-courter – and fellow rising stars from America Christina McHale and Stephens – can take over the void left on the circuit left by superstar Venus Williams, whose WTA Tour career is fast approaching a grand finale.

jamie hampton finalHampton’s run to the last 16 at the 2013 French Open helped lift her to the brink of the world’s top 40, and a semi-final showing at Brussels and her Eastbourne exploits then she appears destined for a top 10 place before long.

She has an adaptable game, which has garnered fabulous results on various surfaces, and at Devonshire Park stunned two top 10 players – Radwanska (world no4) and Wozniacki (world no9).

Hampton was staring at defeat against Wozniacki, just two points from a semi-final exit, but bravely battled back to send the great Dane packing in a marathon three set thriller. This dogged determination and never-say-die attitude should hold her in good stead for the next few seasons.

Hampton explained: “I have given myself a two hour time to sulk, basically the journey up to Wimbledon I can sulk, maybe have a little chocolate and then move on and get on with Wimbledon.”

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Vesnina venom stings Wickmayer

2013 AEGON International, Elena Vesnina, News, Yanina Wickmayer

Vesnina semi-final successElena Vesnina is on course to claim her second trophy of the season following her formidable 6-2 6-0 triumph over Yanina Wickmayer in 52 minutes.

And 13 proved unlucky for the Belgian, as Vesnina racing away with the second set in just 13 minutes to send the former US Open semi-finalist packing. The Russian Doubles specialist cruised past fellow unlikely semi-finalist Wickmayer in a disappointing one-sided affair that immediately followed the marathon match that saw Jamie Hampton stun Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki.

Vesnina said:

“I was expecting it was going to be a very long and difficult match because Yanina’s a very dangerous player. After the first set she kind of lost her concentration, I was surprised.

“It feels great to be in the final as it’s a really strong tournament. It definitely will bring me some confidence before Wimbledon.”

World no36 Vesnina has made an impressive run to tomorrow’s final against American qualifier. She kicked off the week by shocking Serbian star Ana Ivanovic and then outplayed British no2 Heather Watson.

With no2 seed Li Na standing in her way for a semi-final spot, Vesnina pulled off an incredible win to send the Chinese no1 tumbling out of the Wimbledon warm-up tournament.

Wickmayer had seen off world no10 Maria Kirilenko of Russia on Court 1 to reach the final four. The Belgian also accounted for American Christina McHale and 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova so the 23-year-old was not expected to be such a pushover for Vesnina.

The 26-year-old bombarded Wickmayer with sizzling shots, including 16 winners, and broke the Belgian five times with a near flawless display – only guilty of committing six unforced errors.

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.

Wozniacki outshines rising star

2013 AEGON International, Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova, Elena Baltacha, Elena Vesnina, Laura Robson, Maria Kirilenko, News

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Laura RobsonCaroline Wozniacki scored a 6-4 6-4 success in scorching Centre Court sunshine on Wednesday, outshining British teenager Heather Watson.

The former world no1 broke in the ninth game of the intriguing contest and never looked back, notching up a second victory over the 19-year-old in a matter of weeks.

Left hander Robson suffered a humiliating defeat at last month’s French Open, when her feet were like clay on the red soil. But the Australian-born youngest had learned her lessons from that hefty reversal so put up a decent fight against Wozniacki.

With both players possessing an attacking style of game suited to grass, and having each been crowned Junior Wimbledon Singles champions, the contest was always going to one of high quality and entertainment – not just because of the British interest.

The surprisingly quiet set of supporters were divided on who to cheer as the great Dane was a former champion at Devonshire Park and a regular popular figure, whilst Robson is the rising British star yet to shine on the big stay despite cracking the world’s top 50.

Wozniacki, the world no9 whose career nosedived following her well publicised romance with professional golfer Rory McIllroy, made a stuttering start but once ahead there was only one winner.

Wozniacki said: “I love it here and I love playing on grass. I’ve been here 10 years in a row now, including junior tournaments, and I really enjoy the homely feel to Eastbourne.

“Laura served really well today and she put a lot of pressure on me, which made it a really good match to watch.”

With the bit between her teeth Wozniacki eased into a 2-0 second set lead, only to face a temporary blip when the resilience of Robson overpowered her to break serve.

It appeared that Robson got stage fright and started to look jittery, unforced errors costing her dearly. And on match point Robson hit a return long to whimper out of the contest.

Wozniacki added: “It wasn’t a comfortable win. I felt that the crowd were supporting, which was nice because I have a soft spot for Eastbourne.

“I’m just tinkering a little bit with my racquet. I’m still under contract with Yonex, so we’re just trying to figure out a racquet that can help me a little bit more with my game. I just feel like I needed a little bit more power and the racket will help.”

Robson said: “I defended better than I did in Paris and got myself into a lot better positioning in the court.

“But it’s just a couple of shots here and there, and a couple of missed first serves on big that makes a big difference against a top player – it’s frustrating to miss easy shots.”

Two other British wildcards faltered to blonde Russians in three sets. Elena Baltacha put up a battling display on Court 2 to world no10 Maria Kirilenko but Heather Watson was second best to Elena Vesnina.

Baltacha grabbed the opening set off no6 seed Kirilenko but was ousted 4-6 6-4 6-3. Watson made a dreadful start against Vesnina but squared matters to force a third set only to fall apart and suffer a 6-1 3-6 6-2 reversal.

Another Russian, former Eastbourne champion Ekaterina Makarova caused a sensation by overturning German Angelique Kerber – last year’s runner-up – 6-3 6-4.

Six appeal for Wimbledon ladies

Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Elena Vesnina, Li Na, Maria Kirilenko, News, Petra Kvitova, Players

aegon international 2013Six of the top 10 seeds for 2013 Wimbledon are competing at Eastbourne in a warm-up for the coveted Grand Slam event.

Former Devonshire champion Agnieszka Radwanska is the highest of the seeds (no4) playing at Devonshire Park, Li Na (no6), Angelique Kerber (no7), ex-Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova (no8), former AEGON International titleholder Caroline Wozniacki (no9) and Maria Kirilenko (no10) make up six of the best.

And there are 10 other players at Eastbourne who have also been seeded, including Serbian Ana Ivanovic who made a brief appearance at the 2013 AEGON International after being stunned in three sets by Russian Elena Vesnina.

2013 Wimbledon seeds for Ladies Singles draw:

  1. Serena WILLIAMS
  2. Victoria AZARENKA
  3. Maria SHARAPOVA
  4. Agnieszka RADWANSKA
  5. Sara ERRANI
  6. LI Na
  7. Angelique KERBER
  8. Petra KVITOVA
  9. Caroline WOZNIACKI
  10. Maria KIRILENKO
  11. Roberta VINCI
  12. Ana IVANOVIC
  13. Nadia PETROVA
  14. Sam STOSUR
  15. Marion BARTOLI
  16. Jelena JANKOVIC
  17. Sloane STEPHENS
  18. Dominika CIBULKOVA
  19. Carla SUAREZ NAVARRO
  20. Kirsten FLIPKENS
  21. Anastasia PAVLYUCHENKOVA
  22. Sorana CIRSTEA
  23. Sabine LISICKI
  24. PENG Shuai
  25. Ekaterina MAKAROVA
  26. Svetlana KUZNETSOVA
  27. Varvara LEPCHENKO
  28. Lucie SAFAROVA
  29. Tamira PASZEK
  30. Alize CORNET
  31. Mona BARTHEL
  32. Romina OPRANDI

Pride of place for Konta

Elena Baltacha, Elena Vesnina, Johanna Konta, News, Players, WTA Players

J Konta EB 2012The British pair of Johanna Konta and Elena Baltacha have been granted the last wildcard entries for the 2013 AEGON International.

It concludes a memorable week for 22-year-old Konta after receiving a wildcard into Wimbledon on Wednesday.

And British no6 Baltacha’sweek at the Nottingham Challenge has seen her progress into Saturday’s semi-final. 

Konta, the British no3, who has lived in Eastbourne since the age of 14, is relishing the opportunity to play in the main draw for the first time.

Granted British citizenship last summer, Konta was born in Australia to Hungarian parents but considers Eastbourne to be her home.

At the 2012 US Open Konta celebrated becoming with three qualifying triumphs and then a 1st Round success over Hungarian Timea Babos, a former Doubles partner.

At last year’s AEGON International, Konta saw off Stockport’s Naomi Broady in the 1st Round of qualifying only to then slip up to Russian Elena Vesnina.

The world no140 said: “I’m thrilled as Eastbourne is my home, so I hope to do the wildcard justice. It’s going to be great experience for me to play in the main draw in front of my home crowd.”

The 22-year-old has her work cut out in the toughest draw seen for a few years. Konta soared to the semi-finals at this month’s Nottingham Challenge on grass but the following week fell in the 2nd Round at Birmingham’s AEGON Classic.

Yet she came perilously close to causing a major upset at 2012 Wimbledon, but American ace Christina McHale took the 1st Round honours 10-8 in the third set in a dramatic match contested over two days on Court 17.

Elena BaltachaVeteran Baltacha, the former British no1 and a regular to Devonshire Park, was missing off the WTA Tour following a foot injury that required surgery after the London Olympics.

The 29-year-old said: “I feel as though I’m on cloud nine as the days.

“In the past few weeks a lot of things have happened, there are things thrown at me that I wasn’t familiar with after being out for so long.”

Konta will have to turn on the style and use the usually patriotic crowd to help lift her if she is going to make any impact at Devonshire Park in a fiercely competitive draw.

Yet Eastbourne has historically seen shock results and unexpected champions, so if Konta can remain keen then maybe she will one of the surprise floaters in the ladies event to make Eastbourne as proud of her as she is of the town.

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

2012 Ladies Singles – Tuesday’s Results

Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, Elena Vesnina, Laura Robson, Lucie Safarova, Marion Bartoli, Petra Kvitova, Results, Sorana Cirstea, Su-Wei Hsieh, WTA Players

2012 AEGON International

1st Round

Jie Zheng lost to 3-6 6-4 3-6 Klara Zakopalova

Ekaterina Makarova won 7-5 6-4 v Petra Kvitova

Angelique Kerber won 3-6 6-0 7-5 v Elena Vesnina

Agnieszka Radwanska lost 2-6 4-6 to Tsvetana Pironkova

Su-Wei Hsieh lost 2-6 0-3 to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Christina McHale won 6-1 6-7 6-4 v Caroline Wozniacki

Laura Robson won 3-6 6-2 6-2 v Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez

Timea Babos lost 6-3 3-6 6-7 to Lucie Safarova

Petra Cetkovska won 3-6 6-2 6-1 v Andrea Hlavackova

Marion Bartoli won 6-2 6-2 v Sorana Cirstea

Greta Arn lost 3-6 4-6 to Heather Watson

Stephanie Dubois won 6-4 6-4 v Carla Suarez Navarro