Hungry Hampton has recipe for success

2013 AEGON International, Agnieszka Radwanska, Klara Zakopalova, Lucie Safarova, News, Players, Sam Stosur, WTA Players
By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
lucie safarova quarter-finalsLucie Safarova missed out on a second WTA Tour semi-final spot on the trot, upset by battling American qualifier Jamie Hampton in three sets on Thursday.
The world no41 bounced back from losing the opening set, when she was slipping and sliding around the No1 Court, but a gutsy display earned her a 3-6 7-6 6-4 success.
Initially the Czech ace’s thunderous forehand with formidable top spin was the real difference between the players, but once gutsy Hampton read her opponent’s tactics then the tide turned in an intriguing clash.
Hampton, who will move into the world’s top 30 next week courtesy of her incredible exploits at Eastbourne, made it back-to-back victories over Safarova after her impressive win at last month’s French Open.

Hungry Hampton had come through three qualifying matches and two main draw rounds with aplomb, having caused a sensation shock to dismiss top seed and world no4 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the 1st Round.

But the 23-year-old Hampton was initially troubled by the high bouncing shots from Safarova that resulted in a set of unforced errors and was staring at defeat going into the second set tiebreak.

Hampton confidently took the game to the Czech, storming to a 7-1 tiebreak success and maintained the momentum going into the final set.

Hampton said: “Last year’s Wimbledon was my first match on grass, and everyone told me that I would have a ton of fun on grass – it turns out everyone was right!”

Safarova arrived at Eastbourne in tip-top form, having carved her way to the Nurnberg semi-final but suffering a shock reversal to Romanian Simona Halep.

She had impressed on grass, following up her win over compatriot Klara Zakopalova to then upset Australian wildcard Sam Stosur, only to fail to fend off the challenge of Hampton in her fifth shot at an Eastbourne title.

Whether history will repeat itself at Devonshire Park with a qualifier being crowned the ladies champion for a second season on the trot remains a question that only Hampton can answer.

Six of the best from Safarova

2013 AEGON International, Lucie Safarova, News, Players, Sam Stosur, Su-Wei Hsieh, WTA Players
By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Lucie SafarovaLucie Safarova made it six career victories over Australian wildcard Sam Stosur on Court 1 with a straight set success in 102 entertaining minutes.
The Czech ace only fired one ace in her comprehensive 7-6 6-3 triumph but was not always in command.
Former US Open champion Stosur, who suffered her sixth defeat in eight WTA Tour matches against the left hander, began confidently and racing into a 5-2 lead.
But then Safarova notched up a gear to pile the pressure on Stosur with some solid shots from the baseline and chasing every ball as though her life depended on it. And this tactic paid dividends, reeling off the next three games to level at 5-5.
Safarova forced a tiebreak and sealed that set 7-5 with controlled tennis to leave Stosur visibly fuming at making silly errors.
Stosur’s normally solid serve and and fierce forehand were both jittery, handing Safarova a perfect opportunity to book a 3rd Round berth.
Safarova held her serve immediately after breaking Stosur’s serve in the eighth game, and appears to be a force to be reckoned with this season at Devonshire Park.
American Jamie Hampton is next up for Safarova. The German-born qualifier saw off Taipei’s Su-Wei Hseih 6-4 7-6, running away with the tiebreak 7-2.

Safarova wins battle of Czech mates

2013 AEGON International, Ekaterina Makarova, Klara Zakopalova, Lucie Safarova, Nadia Petrova, News, Petra Kvitova, Players, Sam Stosur, WTA Players

By Xavier Harley-Rudd

Lucie SafarovaLucie 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.”

 

2013 Ladies Draw

2013 AEGON International, Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, Elena Baltacha, Johanna Konta, Laura Robson, Li Na, Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, Petra Kvitova, Players, Sam Stosur, Sara Errani, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Tamira Paszek, WTA Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

aegon international 2013

2013 Ladies Draw

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE SCORES

Marion BartoliMarion Bartoli, a former Eastbourne champion, was the player most feared in the opening match for seeded players and others alike.
The tenacious and unorthodox French ace, who briefly parted ways from her father’s coaching, has always made an impression on the Devonshire Park grass – but faces Flavia Pennetta in her first match.
Bartoli has missed out on being seeded although briefly was the provisional no8 when Italian Sara Errani made a late withdrawal through injury.
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.
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

Ladies Draw:

(1)Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) vs (qualifier)
(WC)Johanna Konta (GBR) vs Su Wei Hsieh (TPE)
Klara Zakopalova (CZE) vs Lucie Safarova (CZE) [head-to-head 5-3]
(WC)Sam Stosur (AUS) vs (8)Nadia Petrova (RUS) [3-6]
(3)Angelique Kerber (GER) vs Sorana Cirstea (ROU) [1-1]
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) vs (q)
Laura Robson (GBR) vs (q)
Tamira Paszek (AUT) vs (5)Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) [1-1]
(6)Maria Kirilenko (RUS) vs Bojana Jovanovski (SRB)
(WC)Elena Baltacha (GBR) vs (q)
Christina McHale (USA) vs Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) [0-2]
Monica Niculescu (ROU) vs (4)Petra Kvitova (CZE)
(7)Ana Ivanovic (SRB) vs Elena Vesnina (RUS) [2-0]
Varvara Lepchenko (USA) vs Heather Watson (GBR)
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) vs Marion Bartoli (FRA) [1-3]
Alize Cornet (FRA) vs (2)Li Na (CHN) [0-2]

marion bartoli eastbourne 2012

Errani withdrawal promotes Stosur

2013 AEGON International, Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, EXCLUSIVE, Li Na, Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, Petra Kvitova, Players, Sam Stosur, Sara Errani, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Tamira Paszek, Yaroslava Shvedova

Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Sam Stosur 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.

America’s rising star Sloane Stephens and Kazakhstani’s Yaroslava Shvedova have withdrawn from the event.

Seeds are:

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

Stosur prepared to bounce back

2013 AEGON International, Players, Sam Stosur

 

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

sam stosur 1Sam Stosur has set herself a mission at Eastbourne of causing some shock results in her determined to return to the world’s top 10.

The industrious Australian has only slipped out of the elite world ranking following a disappointing run at the 2013 French Open, coupled with recent injuries keeping her off the circuit.

But Stosur’s experience for winning titles – both at Singles and Doubles – coupled with her aggressive style of play and her infamous signature kick serve should cause problems for opponents during the grass season.

She only opted for wildcard entries at both Birmingham and Eastbourne at the very last minute having contemplated just practicing ahead of Wimbledon.

And although she will not be seeded at the 2013 AEGON International she truly does possess all the necessary weapons to cause havoc in the draw, although is unlikely to get further than the semi-finals. Yet her progress will be dependent on the draw as this year’s tournament has attracted the usual array of leading ladies.

But Stosur, troubled by a calf injury during the gruelling clay court season, is determined to get back on track both in terms of long-term fitness and world ranking.

As a Grand Slam champion at Singles, Ladies Doubles and Mixed Doubles, Stosur will biting at the chomp to make an impression at Devonshire Park ahead of her shot at making an impact at The Championships.

Stosur explained: “The way that I play is an aggressive style, fast and explosive. I try to get on the point as quickly as possible, and my overall work along with my coach puts it all into place.

“When I was very young, probably 10, I had a coach that taught me the correct technique to hit the serve the way that I hit it. And as I got older my serves got better, so I have the basis of everything that I need each time in my serve.

“I have the same routine before each match and for few years I have used a sports psychologist. I have learned what works for me to mentally get ready for a match, to get over a loss or to handle a big win.

“The mental side of things is important at this level because everyone can hit the ball pretty well, so I believe that what can really make the difference between winning and losing comes down to handling things mentally.

sam stosur eastbourne 2011“But moving from clay to grass I find that my ankles and joints are a little bit sore because of that gripping on the grass.

“And I have to be ready to adapt as quickly as possible, because on grass the ball doesn’t bounce so high – but as the years go on I try and do whatever I can before playing too much on that surface.”

Stosur will no doubt be seeking to play plenty of matches at Birmingham’s AEGON Classic in preparation for her return to Devonshire Park, having missed Eastbourne – arguably the world’s friendliest grass court tournament – last year to compete in Holland.

But with such an array of talent from the world’s top 10 vying for glory at Eastbourne, it is extremely doubtful that Stosur will go to SW19 having played too much tennis on grass. Although the battling Australian ace can never be discounted, and Devonshire Park has a history of unexpected champions.

Subdued Stosur selects return

EXCLUSIVE, News, Players, Sam Stosur, WTA Players

Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Samantha Stosur of Australia serves duriSam Stosur, who will drop out of the world’s top 10 for the first time since 2011 coming into Eastbourne, has made entering the 2013 AEGON International priority over training.

The Australian has been granted a wildcard entry to Devonshire Park, the traditional warm-up event for Wimbledon, and is relieved to see the gruelling clay court season come to a halt.

The current world no9 exited the 2013 French Open to former world no1 Jelena Jankovic in the 3rd Round and in recent seasons competed in the grass court tournaments at Eastbourne (2011) and ‘s-Hertogenbosch (2012) ahead of Wimbledon.

Stosur, who has not been past the 2nd Round at SW19 since 2009, refused to finalise her schedule until she weighed up all her options and was no longer involved in the French Open Ladies Doubles with the London-based Italian Francesca Schiavone.

But she is desperate to end her string of indifference results and is seeking to gain momentum, having overcome a calf injury that disrupted her build-up to Roland Garros. The Australian ace has also been granted a wildcard entry at the less prestigious but nevertheless testing tournament at Birmingham, the AEGON Classic, which starts next Monday.

The 2011 US Open winner’s career has not taken off as expected since her maiden Grand Slam success.

Stosur said: “I decided last year that I’d maybe try something a little bit different ahead of preparing for Wimbledon.

“I have assessed the time I’ve got to get stuck into the practice and my aim is to try and have a good Wimbledon.

“I am starting to feel better about my tennis after having a very stop-start first five months of the year. I guess the clay court season is over for the moment and then I head onto the grass, and we’ll see what happens there.

“It’s a challenge going onto the grass for me, it’s another opportunity to turn my form around.”

Stosur serves dangerous warning

News, Players, Sam Stosur, WTA Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

sam stosur serveSam Stosur, whose powerful kick serve suits fast surfaces, will be aiming to return back to the world’s elite by making progress at Eastbourne.

The wildcard Australian, who only dropped out of the world’s top 10 following her 3rd Round reversal to Jelena Jankovic, has got the all-round power game to reel off victims on grass and immediately climb back up the rankings.

Former world no1 Jankovic got revenge for her 2010 French Open defeat to Stosur three years later in Paris. However, the Serbian star made controversial comments when she exited the 2010 Roland Garros semi-finals.

Jankovic claimed at the time about Stosur: “To be honest, she kind of has like almost the game of a man – that’s what it feels like.

“When I look at how the men play she has kind of a similar kick serve, which not many women have. It’s a very heavy spin and then she runs around the forehand.”

Rising French star Kristina Mladenovic, beaten by Stosur in the 2nd Round at Roland Garros, said about her opponent: “She was serving just amazing, and I would say like a man today – really. She’s the only woman player able to hit that hard and that heavy with those conditions.”

Stosur retorted: “It’s just one of those things, I don’t take offence. It all depends how it’s said and the context of it. Sometimes in print it probably sounds more harsh than it actually was.

“Most of the time it’s a compliment. I’m able to hit a kick serve. If I can do something better than the rest of the girls then that’s something to be happy with.”

Sam Stosur

Players, Sam Stosur, WTA Players
Sam Stosur, headshotBirthplace:
Brisbane, Australia
Residence
Gold Coast, Australia
Height
5′ 7 3/4″ (1.72 m)
Weight
143 lbs. (65 kg)
Plays
Right-handed
Turned Pro
1999
Sam Stosur started playing tennis when she was eight years old, courtesy to a friend’s suggestion. Her WTA debut was also to be her first Grand Slam, the 2000 Australian Open.
However, it took four years to break into the world’s top 100 but once there she cracked the top 50 within 12 months.
She was initially considered to be a Doubles expert, having partnered American Lisa Raymond to clinch her first two Doubles titles on Tour in 2005 and adding the US Open crown the same year.
Yet Stosur is more focused on Singles tennis, having won the 2011 US Open with a memorable victory over American ace Serena Williams in the final.
She has been a top 10 fixture for years but following her 3rd Round exit at the 2013 French Open will be out of the top 10 for the first time since 2011, so keen to generate world ranking points during the short grass court season.

Magical Makarova in seventh heaven

Agnieszka Radwanska, Ekaterina Makarova, News, Players, Sam Stosur, Svetlana Kuznetsova, WTA Players

Makarova wins 2010 Eastbourne Tennis final2010 AEGON International final

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Ice-cool Ekaterina Makarova became the first qualifier to ever claim the Eastbourne event, after winning seven matches on the trot.

The Russian world no100 stormed to her maiden career title without dropping a set all week, and sealed success with a battling 7-6 (5)  6-4 victory over Victoria Azarenka in 112 minutes.

But in the opening exchanges candyfloss pink-kitted Belarussian ace Azarenka looked to end the giant-killer’s emphatic run by racing to an opening set 3-0 lead.

The 22-year-old, playing in traditional Wimbledon white, then got some advice from her coach after the stuttering start to bounce back in style and edge the tiebreak against the world no15.

After high-pitched shrieker Azarenka sped into an early 2-1 lead in the next set, the 20-year-old part-based in Arizona and Paris, seemed to be struggling with a knee injury so called for her coach.

After the enforced break, Makarova immediately broke Azarenka’s serve to level matters at 2-2 and then went for broke to seal the set and the title to become the first unseeded Devonshire Park winner since Chanda Rubin’s 2002 triumph.

And Makarova will climb up the world rankings after her run of wins on grass, especially as prior to Eastbourne she had not registered back-to-back main draw matches this season.

The rising Russian star steamrolled to the final, including stunning victories over twice grand slam winner and compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova and recent French Open runner-up Sam Stosur of Australia.

Makarova wins 2010 EastbourneMakarova, playing in her third career final, said:

“I started very good today and made no mistakes, but then I got a bit nervous and she came back, but I threw this from my mind and played point by point.

“I’m in shock right now, especially that I didn’t lose a set. This is just unbelievable to me, I cannot believe that I did it.

“I can’t understand yet that I’ve won. There was no secret to the success, my secret has been my great coach – the best!

“I was eating every day pasta in the same restaurant, so maybe that’s the reason! But I also like the grass and I’ve really enjoyed the week.”

Azarenka, who saw off two former Eastbourne champions – Kim Clijsters and Agnieszka Radwanska – to reach the final, would not expand on her injury and explained:

“It’s my problem, I’ll keep it to myself. I still have to treat it and I don’t want to put it out there but it’s not a big thing.”