Kerber’s in seventh heaven

Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova

Angelique KerberAngelique Kerber had to wait in the wings because of the rain before handing ex-Eastbourne champion Ekaterina Makarova a 59-minute tennis lesson.

The rising German star, who has made easy work of her passage to the semi-final stage, needed only 59 minutes to impressively brush aside Makarova 6-2, 6-4 to earn a seventh last four berth this term.

Kerber smiled:

This is my first time here, and I’m enjoying my stay. The courts are very good, so I think that’s the best thing I can do before Wimbledon.”

The no5 seed, who was left waiting for more than two hours after Bartoli’s swift victory, breezed past in-form Makarova – the 2010 Devonshire Park champion.

Kerber, tipped to be a world no1, was a set and 3-1 ahead when rain halted their encounter.

Kerber explained:

It wasn’t easy to manage this – you don’t know how long we need to wait until it stops raining. But I’m happy to go out there after the two hour rain delay and win the match.

“It was not easy because you don’t know how long we need to wait, when it’s stopping raining, but I’m happy to manage this and go out there after the more than two hours rain delay and win – it means a lot to be in another semifinal this year.

“It was difficult for me to go out if I was 6-2, 3-1 up and I was a little bit nervous. I just tried to focus on me, tried to make my game plan and to play until the end.

“It’s good for me to have one more match or maybe two more matches before Wimbledon, and this was my goal here.”

Tennis Tours set to net courtside cheats

EXCLUSIVE, News, WTA Players

Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

exclusiveEver since EastbourneTennis.com staff were mistaken by police as leading a team of Russian online gamblers during the 2010 event at Devonshire Park, tennis officials have been trained to spot betting scams on the ATP and WTA tours.

Two tennis fans have been ejected from the respective ABS Classic WTA and Heineken Open ATP tournaments in 2012, within a week at January’s annual pre-Australian Open event in Auckland, New Zealand.

ATP Tour supervisor Tom Barnes said:

“On some European betting sites you can bet on a first serve and whether it will be a fault.

“These people are very crafty. Somebody sitting in the stands with a cell phone can transmit this information to someone in Europe and the person who is making the bet will have the information before anybody else – they are actually cheating in that respect.”

A Spanish man was removed from the 2012 ABS Classic, and the following week a New Zealand man was ejected from the Heineken Open.

There was a mad rush on tickets for these two events in London, England, with more than £1,500 (US$2,000) spent – much higher interest than previous years.

Barnes explained:

“The chair umpires, linesman and myself, we all look around for that. We have been trained in how to spot these people and it is pretty obvious, if everybody in the stands is standing up applauding and one guy is sitting there with his hands in his pockets. They show up everywhere.”

The Tennis Integrity Unit is now set to net any potential illegal betting and will fully investigate after these two incidents when the respective spectators were using a handheld device, believed by tennis officials to be used to specifically bet on points in order to take advantage of the delay of few seconds that online betting websites and live television take to transmit.

Barnes admitted:

“We do not want to be tarnished with the brush that people are cheating in that way. This is our way of trying to protect the integrity of the sport.”

 

Watson breaks duck

Caroline Wozniacki, Feliciano LOPEZ, Laura Robson, News, Results, Sorana Cirstea, WTA Players, Yanina Wickmayer

HeatherWatsonWINSEB2010Heather Watson registered her maiden WTA Tour triumph by overturning a top 50 player much to the delight of the supportive Centre Court crowd.

The 18-year-old Guernsey ace, who scythed through three qualifying rounds to reach the main draw, showed hunger and precision to tear apart Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak – the world no48 – 6-3 6-2.

Watson, ranked 344 going into the 2010 Aegon International, had been granted a wildcard to next week’s Wimbledon on the strength of her exceptional results at Devonshire Park.

And the US Open Junior champion impressed in only her third match in the main draw of a WTA Tour event despite the blustery conditions upsetting both players.

Watson admitted: “I’m so so happy, I was really glad to get through the qualifiers but I didn’t want to stop there.”

She saw off compatriot Anna Smith (world no265), Russian grass court specialist Tsvetana Pironkova (no81) and then Serbian Bojana Jovanovski (no108) in qualifying.

But Watson’s latest triumph eclipsed fellow Brit Laura Robson, the 2008 Wimbledon Junior champion, who has not won a main draw match on the WTA Tour but is only aged 16.

It was a day of shocks with world no3 and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki falling to France powerhouse Aravane Rezai in three sets. And the newly-crowned French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy succumbed in straight to Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

Former Eastbourne winner Kim Clijsters, the 2009 US Open champion, returned to winning ways in her first grass court tournament for four years away, by demolishing Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-1 6-1 with aplomb.

British stalwart Elena Baltacha progressed against China’s Li Na after the no7 seed retired hurt before the start of the second set of what was a dull contest.

James Ward, the son of a London taxi driver, also made the 2nd Round courtesy of his opponent retiring.

The 23-year-old pulled off a shock success to record his inaugural win in a main draw event. He was leading Feliciano Lopez 6-3 5-4 on Centre Court, but the Spaniard threw in the towel by retiring from the contest citing a shoulder injury to concede defeat to the Great Britain Davis Cup player.

Ward described his victory over no2 seed Lopez as the “biggest of my career”.

However, the world no342 turned down a wildcard into the Wimbledon qualifying competition in order to compete at Eastbourne. He explained: “I was offered the chance to play here and I decided it would be best for my ranking.”

 

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.”

 

2010 AEGON International – Ladies final preview

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

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Big guns misfired but bring on the big shots

Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)

Victoria Azarenka EB 2010Victoria Azarenka is the favourite to be crowned Eastbourne 2010 champion after scything her way past top names on grass, but faces a daunting task against world no100 Ekaterina Makarova.

Belarussian ace Azarenka has been at her high-pitched shrieking best to dismiss quality players in her side of the draw, including a first round exit for 2008 Eastbourne winner Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and a semi-final success over French ace Marion Bartoli – both in straight sets.

Makarova has been in emphatic form, and steamrolled her way through three qualifying matches as well as the main draw without dropping a set.

The giant-killer subdued battling Australian Sam Stosur in a memorable semi-final showdown, fighting back from an initial 3-0 deficit before her coach intervened and a change of tactics deservedly edged her into the final.

Tennis - AEGON International - Day Three - EastbourneLittle known Russian Makarova is the first qualifier to reach the final at Eastbourne since compatriot Vera Duchevina finished runner-up to Belgian’s Kim Clijsters at Devonshire Park in 2005.

Makarova tore past in-form compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova, a two-time grand slam champion and a former winner at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park, with a gritty performance and is becoming an expert at tiebreak victories.

She has made a mockery of the seedings at Devonshire Park this year, having pulled off a set of impressive results since the qualifying stages, and doesn’t look like running out of steam on the big stage – she could also surprise the entertaining Azarenka.

Victoria Azarenka vs Ekaterina Makarova

Jul 31, 1989 Birthday Jun 07, 1988
20 Age 22
Belarus Country Russia
15 Rank 100
Right-handed Plays Right-handed

Ladies – Friday 18 June 2010

Agnieszka Radwanska, Ekaterina Makarova, Marion Bartoli, News, Players, Sam Stosur, WTA Players

2010 AEGON International

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Previous meeting

Players Result Rd Date Tournament
Azarenka Bartoli 6-3 6-1 Fin. 10 Jan 09 Brisbane Int.

Ladies – Thursday 17 June 2010

Ekaterina Makarova, Marion Bartoli, News, Players, Svetlana Kuznetsova, WTA Players

2010 AEGON International

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Marion-Bartoli Eastbourne 2010Battling Bartoli takes thriller

Bartoli defeated Martinez-Sanchez 5-7 6-4 7-6(5)

French ace Marion Bartoli scraped her way into a fourth successive Eastbourne semi-final despite being outplayed by the impressive Spaniard in a marathon match.

Marie-Jose Martinez-Sanchez was quickest to the ball and thundered nine aces in the opening set, but Bartoli’s swift footwork and steely determination took the first set to a tight conclusion.

But Martinez-Sanchez seemed to run out of steam in the second set as the Bartoli started racing towards the net and force errors. With matters levelled, it was anyone’s match but Bartoli took the early initiative to carve out an early lead.

Martinez-Sanchez was equal to everything thrown at her in the decisive set, and bounced back with a further four aces to force a tiebreak.

Bartoli sped away into a 4-1 advantage but was soon pegged back and it was a close contest, but former Wimbledon runner-up Bartoli used her guile and experience to seal a fantastic victory and another chance to make the final at Devonshire Park.

Marion Bartoli M-J Martinez-Sanchez
Oct 02, 1984 Birthday Aug 12, 1982
25 years Age 27 years
France  Country  Spain
12 Current rank 23
9 (2008) Highest rank 19 (2010)
Right-handed Plays Right-handed

Sam Stosur 2010 EB

All steam ahead for stuttering Stosur

Stosur defeated Baltacha 6-7(5) 6-1 6-0

Powerful Sam Stosur was slow off the blocks in a boring battle on Centre Court’s opening match of the day, but bounced back to wipe the floor with British no1 Elena Baltacha.

The Scot exceeded her expectations at Devonshire Park with back-to-back wins over top quality Chinese opponents to reach her first Eastbourne quarter-final, and looked likely to stun French Open runner-up Stosur.

After Baltacha nicked the first set on the tiebreak, Stosur turned on the style to humble her opponent with powerful serves and steady backhand winners.

The tough Aussie steamed into her second semi-final at Devonshire Park, dictating the pace of each point. But the polite crowd seemed more enthusiastic towards sleeping in the sun after popping Champagne corks than supporting Baltacha in the battle of black-kitted muscle women.

Sam Stosur   Elena Baltacha
Mar 30, 1984 Birthday Aug 14, 1983
26 years Age 26 years
Australia  Country  Great Britain
7 Current rank 62
7 (2010) Highest rank 59 (2010)
Right-handed Plays Right-handed

Victoria Azarenka EB 2010Azarenka arrives to call the big shots

Azarenka defeated Clijsters 7-6(6) 6-4

Brilliant Belarussian Victoria Azarenka continued to turn the form books on their head but outgunning and out-shrieking fans favourite Kim Clijsters in straight sets.

It was a wondrous win for Azarenka in the Centre Court thriller, having to dig deep and stay composed for the most crucial points to bravely battle past the US Open champion and former Eastbourne winner.

Azarenka fluffled chances to seal the opening set, hindered by the blustery conditions, but deservedly won the tense tiebreak in a marathon 62 minute opening set.

Clijsters bounced back to her best to reel off a seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead, with a tremendous serve followed by a powerful cross-court forehand winner, and then 4-2.

However Azarenka played beyond her years to steadily steal big points and somehow level matters, thanks to hitting two double-faults from under pressure Clijsters.

The unseeded Belarussian held her nerve to edge ahead, leaving Clijsters to serve to stay in the tournament. But Clijsters, willed on by the crowd, completely choked and hit three forehand shots into the net to gift Ararenka her first Eastbourne semi-final appearance.

I’m very happy to have won, despite the windy conditions. I’m playing well here on grass, and it was a good decision to play here after having to withdraw for the last two years. I’ll take each match as it comes before Wimbledon

– Azarenka

 
Victoria Azarenka Kim Clijsters
Jul 31, 1989 Birthday Jun 08, 1983
20 years Age 27 years
Belarus  Country  Belgium
15 Current rank 9
6 (2010) Highest rank 1 (2006)
Right-handed Plays Right-handed

Tennis - AEGON International - Day Three - EastbourneMakarova lines up title ambition

Makarova defeated Kuznetsova 6-4 7-5

Qualifier Ekaterina Makarova ended Svetlana Kuznetsova’s impressive run in straight sets and 90 minutes in front of subdued fans on Court No1, which was marred by a string of controversial line calls.

The all-Russian clash saw favourite and wildcard Kuznetsova, the world no20 and former Eastbourne winner, frustrated by neat play and powerful shots from her compatriot.

In a very close contest, former US Open and French Open champion Kuznetsova struggled with the blustery conditions in the opening set to serve up three aces that were cancelled out by as double-faults.

Makarova moved into the lead by nicking the first set thanks to solid play and a string of powerful drives that stunned Kuznetsova.

The second set was better quality, with fewer mistakes and stronger serves. Kuznetsova chased the match and saved five out of seven break points, but the 22-year-old kept plugging away and toughed it out to register an emphatic result.

Ekaterina Makarova Svetlana Kuznetsova
Jun 27, 1985 Birthday Jun 07, 1988
24 years Age 22 years
Russia  Country  Russia
20 Current rank 100
2 (2008) Highest rank 35 (2009)
Right-handed Plays Right-handed

Azarenka wipes the floor with Watson

Lucie Safarova, News, Players, Results, WTA Players

heather-watsoneb2010defeatHeather Watson’s run at Devonshire Park ended with a finishing class from Belarussian rising star Victoria Azarenka, crashing 6-1 6-1 in 59 minutes.

The Guersney 18-year-old had breezed through three qualifying rounds to set up a 2nd Round clash against the world no15, only to be outplayed from the start.

Azarenka, who seems destined to be a regular top 10 ace, dominated play on Centre Court in a one-sided affair.

Watson, who secured a wildcard for Wimbledon on the strength of her qualifying results at Eastbourne, had impressed in her opening round contest to stun Canada’s world no48 Aleksandra Wozniak but ran out of steam against the talented Azarenka.

Regular visitor Kim Clijsters raced into the quarter-finals on her first event on grass for four seasons by destroying Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova 6-1, 6-0.

In the battle of Eastbourne favourites it was Australian Sam Stosur, fresh from her 2010 French Open final, who took the honours against Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova to register a 6-3 3-6 6-4 success.

Ladies – Wednesday 16 June 2010

2013 AEGON International, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, Lucie Safarova, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, Players, Sam Stosur, Sorana Cirstea, Svetlana Kuznetsova

2010 AEGON International

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

elena-baltachaBally blasts past Zheng

Elena Baltacha, the battling British no1 and wildcard, served up another shock victory over a top quality Chinese opponent at Devonshire Park in dramatic drama.

The Scot was expected to only be playing for pride, but bemused Jie Zheng in the opening set by running away with an emphatic 6-2 opening set.

Zheng came out fighting for a quarter-final place and turned on the style to wipe the floor with the well-supported Brit nicknamed ‘Bally’.

The decisive set saw a ding-dong contest fall in favour of Bally and then towards the petite but powerful Chinese ace. Helped on with some brave shots, a handful of unforced errors and the vocal crowd on Court No2, Bally edged victory for an sensational 6-2 1-6 6-3 triumph.

There were other topsy-turvy matches, with strong Aussie Sam Stosur – a recent runner-up at Roland Garros – pushed to the limits in the opening match of the day on Centre Court against Daniela Hantuchova.

Stosur’s trademark kick serve worked well in the opening set, but she was unable to flex her muscles against such a wily opponent and double faulted to lose the second set.

With long-legged Hantuchova playing as brightly as her fashionable orange outfit, and Stosur appearing exhausted after her exploits in Paris, the final set could have gone either way.

But no3 seed Stosur stepped up a gear and hit a number of powerdrives to tilt the scales and register a tense 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 success in just under two hours helped by 13 aces.

Stosur, a semi-finalist at Eastbourne 2007, said: “We’ve had some close matches and I’ve played quite well here so far. The more matches I get on grass the better I feel, so I hope this year I can do the best I’ve ever done on grass.”

In stark contrast, former world no1 and Eastbourne 2005 champion Kim Clijsters was in total control on Centre Court for a second successive day to rapidly make mincemeat out of lacklustre Lucie Safarova 6-1 6-0 in 39 whirlwind minutes.

Clijsters, the no5 seed, showed no sign of not being match fit following her foot injury that kept the Belgian ace out of the 2010 French Open and admitted: “Victory was good, quick and perfect but I’ve always liked playing on grass.

“Today was even better than yesterday and that’s a good sign. I’m playing good tennis and that’s the most important thing for me.”

Marion Bartoli, a former Wimbledon runner-up and regular at Eastbourne, had a fight on her hands to survive against impressive Hungarian Agnes Szavay and register a gritty 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Bartoli, the no8 seed, was slow off the starting blocks and looked likely to dumped out after falling behind 3-1 in the second set. But in a game of cat and mouse, the French ace kept her nerve to bounce back. She is in her fourth successive quarter-final at Devonshire Park, and is aiming to surpass her hat-trick of semi-final finishes.

The noise from Belarussian Victoria Azarenka on Court No1 was the most entertaining aspect for fans, as she outplayed British qualifier Heather Watson without any troubles to cruise home 6-1 6-1.

Watson’s progress at the event means that the Guersney-based youngster, the 2009 US Open Junior champion, climbed into the world’s top 250 for the first time in her short career on the WTA Tour. This was her first foray into the second round of a main draw.

My coach watched her match yesterday, she’s a very good player and moves very well. It was a difficult match, we had tough rallies and I’m happy the way I handled it.

– Victoria Azarenka

Russian wildcard Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 Eastbourne champion, fought back from match point in the second set to see off glamorous Romanian Sorana Cirstea in a marathon 150 minutes 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(4).

Kuznetsova arrived at Eastbourne having been dumped out of the French Open and dropping out of the world’s top 10 for the first time in four years. But the former US Open champion had played with nerves of steel to stutter into the quarter-finals against the odds to defy critics.

France’s fashionista Aravane Rezai, who claimed the scalp of defending Eastbourne champion Caroline Wozniacki in the previous round, had to wave the white flag and concede with a right wrist injury after trailing 6-2 3-0 to Spaniard Maria-Jose Martínez-Sanchez.

In the all-Russian battle, in-form qualifier Ekaterina Makarova surprisingly romped home against Nadia Petrova – a regular at Eastbourne and former finalist – with a stunning 6-2 6-0 success.

Matches played

Sam Stosur AUS 6-3 3-6 6-4 Daniela Hantuchova SVK
Heather Watson GBR 1-6 1-6 Victoria Azarenka BLR
Marion Bartoli FRA 3-6 6-4 6-4 Agnes Szavay HUN
Kim Clijsters BEL 6-1 6-0 Lucie Safarova CZE
Sorana Cirstea ROU 6-4 6-7(6) 6-7(4) Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS
Nadia Petrova RUS 2-6 0-6 Ekatrina Makarova RUS
M-J. Martinez Sanchez 6-2 3-0 ret. Aravane Rezai FRA
Jie Zheng CHN 2-6 6-1 3-6 Elena Baltacha GBR