Yanina Wickmayer saw off her Doubles partner Petra Kvitova in a marathon 147 minutes on Centre Court with a magical three set success.
The Belgian bounced back from losing the opening set to inflict a shock defeat on the 2011 Wimbledon winner Kvitova 4-6 6-4 7-5.
With the pair knowing each other’s game inside out from yesterday’s Doubles, it was no surprise to see the first two sets split despite ranked at a lowly no43.
The decisive set saw no4 seed Kvitova soar into a 4-2, 30-0 lead. Then Wickmayer upped her game and stood firmly in a baseline battle.
Kvitova double faulted and then a series of unforced errors gifted a break of serve.The tenacious Belgian took the bull by the horns to thump accurate drives directly at her opponent, which unnerved Kvitova – who produced some extremely short returns – and the sudden confidence crisis resulted in further unforced errors to level matters at 4-4.
The Czech star swiftly restore the lead on her serve for the loss of a single point, only to lose the next three games on the bounce and fall victim to Wickmayer on the second match point.
Left hander Kvitova had been aiming to kick start her season following a disappointing clay court campaign, but her exquisite all round game was only lacking on the big points with Wickmayer’s never-say-die attitude rewarded.
Lucie Safarova’s lethal forehand drives saw off the challenge of close friend Klara Zakopalova 6-4 7-6 for a first ever grass court victory over her Czech compatriot.
The world no28 found depth, pace and precision outfox blonde babe Zakopalova for only the fourth time out of their nine WTA Tour meetings – taking the tiebreak 7-3
Another Czech made it through the 1st Round, 2011 Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova swept the floor with unorthodox Romanian Monica Niculescu 6-4 6-1, who predictably sliced the ball on the forehand shots to trouble Kvitova.
Ex-Eastbourne champion Ekaterina Makarova outclassed Russian compatriot and qualifier Olga Puchkova 6-3 6-0 in their inaugural showdown on the WTA circuit.
The world no87 simply had no answers to left-hander Makarova’s strong serves and punching backhand drives. And Makarova is a force to be reckoned on grass and following a run to the 2013 Australian Open quarter-finals she seems a real threat in the draw.
Sam Stosur warmed up for Wimbledon by scattering no8 seed Nadia Petrova with a scintillating 6-2 6-3 victory on Court 2.
The Australian wildcard, who admits that her least favourite surface is grass having never got further than the 3rd Round at Wimbledon, was in formidable form.
She said: “The biggest thing is not putting too much pressure on yourself to make sure everything is as perfect as what it might be on another surface.
“Sometimes you have got to let go from that and understand that there’s going to be some rough points in a match and some great ones – today I find my depth and enough control.”
Six 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.
Originally Aussie ace Sam Stosur was a swift replacement to relegate the 29-year-old from becoming a seeded player, but then Eastbourne regular Nadia Petrova of Russia took the last seeded place.
If Bartoli overcomes Italian Pennetta then she faces the winner of no2 seed Li Na and Alize Cornet.
Li was granted a wildcard entry following a poor performance at the 2013 French Open and post-match comments that upset her nation. The Chinese no1 and ex-Roland Garros champion will be eager to kick start her grass court season with progress at Devonshire Park.
Stosur, who only made late applications for wildcard entries at both Birmingham and Eastbourne grass court court events, dropped down the world rankings and out of the top 10 following a poor showing at Roland Garros.
She was usurped by Petrova, an Eastbourne favourite, as the no8 seed and fate would have it that they will face-off in the 1st Round with the winner to play either Angelique Kerber or Sorana Cirstea in the battle of the babes.
No3 seed Kerber fluffed five match points in the 2012 AEGON International final to Austrian ace Tamira Paszek, so the German will be determined to go one step better having learnt from her mistakes and is the most proable champion in a very demanding draw.
There are four other former Eastbourne champions in the draw – Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ekaterina Makarova plus top seed Agnieszka Radwanska and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki.
Many are deeming the 2013 AEGON International to be a two-horse race between Radwanska – who faces either Su-Wei Hsieh or British wildcard Johanna Konta in the 2nd Round if she defeats a qualifier in her first match – and no5 seed Wozniacki who is the same half as the Polish ace.
Wozniacki faces Paszek in arguably the tie of the opening Round, with a 2nd Round clash against either British no1 Laura Robson or a qualifier on offer for the winner. Wozniacki fell in the 1st Round at last year’s Wimbledon to Paszek, who was riding on a crest of the wave with seven victories at Eastbourne to surprisingly pick up the crown.
Paszek may not be having the best season on the WTA Tour, and arrived at Devonshire Park for 2012 with a similar stop-start season, but she does excel on grass and reached the 2007 Wimbledon 4th Round aged just 16.
Paszek, who spends the tournament week staying with her Godparents who live in Eastbourne, said: “I have a tough 1st Round but it is such an amazing draw again this year. I’m going to give it my all and do my very best to win back-to-back titles.”
Petra Kvitova has never had much luck at Eastbourne, so the Czech Republic ace will be keen to put that record straight ahead of SW19. The Former Wimbledon winner is the no4 seed and has been drawn to face either Monica Niculesclesc in the 1st Round.
The glamorous pair of Russian Maria Kirilenko (no7 seed) and Serbian star Ana Ivanovic (no8 seed) should not detract from their impressive array of tennis weapons, although neither are likely to win the tournament.
Kirilenko is set to face Bojana Jovanoski with either Brit Elena Baltacha or a qualifier the 2nd Round opponent for the victor, while Ivanovic has been drawn against Elena Vesnina. The winner faces either British no2 Heather Watson or American ace Varvara Lepchenko.
Sam Stosur has been elevated to the no8 seeding as Italian Sara Errani withdrew from Eastbourne on Thursday afternoon.
Errani, who reached the semi-finals at the French Open but only picked up a single game against eventual champion Serena Williams, is suffering from a foot strain and an abductor strain.
The Aussie ace, who only opted for late wildcards at the grass court tournaments in Birmingham and Eastbourne instead of practice.
Her trademark kick serve is exposed to daze and confuse opponents, with the rest of the seeded players probably breathing a sigh of relief that they won’t have to face her in the opening round.
And with an incredible line-up for this year’s pre-Wimbledon tournament at Eastbourne, it is probably the best place to watch grass court tennis outside of The Championships at SW19.
Six former champions – Agnieszka Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki, Marion Bartoli, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Tamira Paszek and Ekatrina Makarova – face stiff competition from the world’s leading ladies.
German Anglique Kerber, who let five match points slip in last year’s final, will be amongst the favourites to be crowned 2013 AEGON International champion.
Petra Kvitova, the Czech Republic’s 2011 Wimbledon winner, has the ability to go all the way on grass whereas top 10 ace Chinese no1 Li Na does not have the style of game particularly suited to grass.
However, grass court experts Stosur and Serbian star Ana Ivanovic will be relishing the opportunity of competing against the top players ahead of Wimbledon, although neither are likely to lift the crown on 22 June 2013.
There are an intriguing trio of Russians also in with a chance of making the final. Maria Kirilenko will be joined by relative veteran Nadia Petrova on their respective hunt for glory.
Players to watch, but who won’t be crowned 2013 Eastbourne champion, include British youngsters Laura Robson and Heather Watson.
Sara 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.
Li Na, the former French Open champion, has been granted a wildcard entry into the 2013 AEGON International following her surprise exit at the French Open – as exclusively revealed by EastbourneTennis.com.
The 31-year-old Chinese no1, who upset the Chinese media with her abruptness after a poor showing at Roland Garros, is one of six stars from the WTA Tour’s world top 10 to compete at Devonshire Park.
Li joins the ex-Eastbourne champions Agnieszka Radwanska an d troubled Caroline Wozniacki in the draw alongside other top 10 aces Sara Errani, former Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova and last year’s runner-up Angelique Kerber.
Li said: “It’s great preparation for Wimbledon at Eastbourne because the grass courts are immaculate.
“I’m delighted to be heading back, I was last there two years ago.”
Laura Robson, who made her dream debut in the main draw at Eastbourne’s Aegon International last year, is set to return to Devonshire Park for the 2013 tournament.
The 19-year-old, who captured the Junior Wimbledon title aged 14, defeated Spaniard veteran Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez in the opening round at Eastbourne before tasting defeat at the hands of Russian ace Ekaterina Makarova.
Brit Robson explained: “I’m excited to be returning to Eastbourne, it’s fantastic preparation ahead of Wimbledon.”
The six-footer broke into the world’s top 100 in 2012 and picked up a silver medal at doubles with Andy Murray at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The season also saw a remarkable run to the last 16 of the US Open, delivering shocks to former Grand Slam champions Kim Clijsters of Belgium and Li Na of China.
And Robson’s promise was revealed at the start of the 2013 season with an incredible display to defeated ex-Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the Australian Open, which resulted in the six-footer breaking into the world’s top 40.