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.”

Hampton serves final notice

2013 AEGON International, Caroline Wozniacki, Jamie Hampton, News

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

jamie hampton makes finalJamie Hampton sent former world no1 Caroline Wozniacki crashing out the AEGON International with a sizzling and determined display to book a place in Saturday’s final for a shot at her first WTA Tour title.

The 23-year-old American ace, who was two points away from defeat, battled back to register her sixth success since Saturday with a 6-7 7-5 6-3 triumph in a marathon 164 minutes.

And Hampton repeated Austria’s Tamira Paszek’s 2012 Eastbourne feat by becoming a qualifier to reach the final at Devonshire Park by hammering 48 winners, twice as many as Wozniacki.

Hampton said:

“I didn’t come just to play the qualifying and I was hoping to get deep into this tournament.

“The conditions were a little tricky today, I’ve noticed that about Eastbourne – the conditions are a little rougher than everywhere else.

“I’m proud of myself, but I had a few set points in the first and kind of choked them away a little bit.”

Hampton started the week at the sleepy seaside resort as world no41 but will climb as 19 ranking places if she is crowned champion on Saturday.

Wozniacki was unable to match Hampton’s raw power and fierce shots, and soon slipped behind in the opening set. But the Dane averting the scares trailing 4-2 and 5-4 to force a tiebreak, which she scraped 8-6 from a 5-2 deficit after 62 minutes, and sealed with a backhand cross-court drive.

With the Danish star on the brink of victory at 5-4 30-0, Hampton fought back brilliantly and levelled matters with an outrageously ambitious backhand winner down the line to stun Wozniacki.

The Dane was then gifted three break points, but Hampton dug deep to square the intriguing tie. Although Wozniacki appeared to be en route to within touching distant of claiming her first title since October 2012, she surprisingly fluffed the hour-long second set after leading 5-4 by losing the next three games.

Wozniacki appeared again surged ahead, taking a 2-0 third set lead but Hampton kept thundering winners to level the contest.

But Wozniacki, using her new blackened out Yonex racquet to great effect to utilise both her spin and becoming a driving force from the baseline with thunderous drives, was outperformed in the decisive set.

Hampton continued to force the Dane to scramble for points, and once she broke serve in the eighth game there was only one winner in their first encounter on the WTA circuit.

Hampton’s gutsy exploits at Eastbourne this week will make her a player, assuming she is not too exhausted after seven matches at the 2013 AEGON International, to avoid at Wimbledon. She faces compatriot Sloane Stephens, the no17 seed, in the 1st Round at SW19.

The Dane, a highly popular figure at Devonshire Park as a regular competitor, suffered the same fate as her run-up to the 2013 French Open of losing to a player that she was expected to brush aside.

Wozniacki has lost in five out of her past six tournaments to lesser players, with the world no9 aiming to get back on track when faces little-known Spaniard Estrella Cabeza-Candela in her opening match at Wimbledon.

The Dane admitted:

“I would have loved to have won, it would have been worth it to be out there for three hours. I had my chances but I didn’t take them.

“It was very difficult, the wind was swirling around – but we did it very well out there.

“I feel happy to be on grass, I’m feeling good. I feel like my game is where I want it to be, so hopefully at Wimbledon I’ll do well.”