Bartoli brings in Drouet

Marion Bartoli, News, Players

Marion BartoliMarion Bartoli, who missed out on getting former Eastbourne champion Amelie Mauresmo as coach, has hired Thomas Drouet as her practice partner.

Drouet, who was the hitting partner of Bernard Tomic before he suffered a broken nose and compounded vertebrae in an allegedly unprovoked head-butt outside a hotel during the 2013 Madrid Open by Tomic’s father John, begins his new role for the French Open.

Bartoli, the highest ranked French player on the WTA Tour, has struggled for form ever since her initial split from her father.

And she has returned to working with her father after two coaches in as many months failed to improve her game, partly due to her unorthodox style that has long been frowned upon by the French Tennis Federation.

Bartoli was aiming to find a suitable coach in a bid to win a Grand Slam title and wanted Mauresmo, who is excelling in charge of the French Federation Cup, because she had reached the coveted world no1 status and won majors during a highly successful career.

But Bartoli, the 2011 AEGON International champion, has an aggressive game that is suited to grass and has finished runner-up at Wimbledon.

The forthcoming grass court season will be a golden opportunity for Bartoli to get back on track and leap back into the world’s top 10 if she can – as expected – pull off impressive results at Eastbourne and SW19.

 

 

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Bartoli shock split

Marion Bartoli, News

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Marion-Bartoli on OlympicsMarion Bartoli, the 2011 AEGON International champion, has ended her coaching relationship with father Walter following two decades of success and will have a new coach for the 2013 Eastbourne Tennis tournament.

The unorthodox ace has always faced criticism from the French Tennis Federation (FFT) over her both her gritty style of play and coaching methods implemented by her father.

Dr. Walter Bartoli, a former physician and GP, is set to return to his medical career with his daughter determined to reignite her career, preferably under the guidance of ex-Wimbledon winner and French Federation Cup captain Amelie Mauresmo.

Bartoli had refusing to represent in the Fed Cup for the past eight years as the rules exclude parents or private coaches from being involved during Fed Cup preparation.

However, Bartoli travelled to France’s Fed Cup home tie in Limoges against Germany without her father for the first time since 2004. Unfortunately, the 28-year-old was unable to compete as she was suffering from flu.

Bartoli, the 2007 Wimbledon runner-up, said: “Much has been discussed together, there is no rupture or clash, it is just the culmination of a long reflection that has happened little by little.

“My father always wanted the best for me. I talk to him every day on the phone, there is no problem.

“He told me that it might be better if I try something else to get what I want to win a Grand Slam title. For me the ideal would be to be with someone to help me win a Grand Slam and I think Amelie can, but it is up to her.”

Moving forward, Bartoli will use the services of FFT coaches and physios such as Nicolas Perrotte and Xavier Moreau.

 

Serena: Coach knew I would return

News, WTA Players

Serena Williams, who made her WTA Tour comeback at Eastbourne’s 2011 AEGON International to much fanfare, admits that her coach waited patiently for her return.

Williams, who missed virtually a year off the professional circuit from 2010 until competing at the 2011 Devonshire Park Wimbledon warm-up event, claims that Sasha Bazhin won’t find a better hitting partner.

According to Williams, Bazhin – her long-term hitting partner and coach – did not seriously consider switching allegiance to coach Serb Jelena Jankovic.

I heard about Jankovic’s interest, but it seems to me that he was not interested to go as he knew that I would return – and it’s unlikely that Sasha would find someone better than me!

Ladies – Saturday 18 June 2011

Marion Bartoli, Petra Kvitova, Results, WTA Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

2011 AEGON International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne

bartoli2011championBattler Bartoli takes Eastbourne title

Unorthodox Marion Bartoli captured her first Eastbourne title, having never got pass the semi-finals before in four previous attempts, with a hard-fought 6-1 4-6 7-5 success over Petra Kvitova.

Kvitova impressed on her Eastbourne debut with a two tremendous fightbacks in a day but bowed out in an enthralling final to Bartoli. Battling Bartoli got off to a cracking start to thunder past traditional slow-starter Kvitova, breaking serve on the fourth game for a comfortable 3-1 lead.

The French ace, who impressed with a swift semi-final triumph over gutsy Australian Sam Stosur, played consistently and Kvitova made numerous unforced errors to surrender the opening set with just one game to her credit.

However, the second set was a different ball game with the world no8 starting to measure up to Bartoli’s powerful drives. But Bartoli broke Kvitova and held her serve for another 3-1 lead.

Rise from the dead

The Czech star looked dead and buried on Centre Court, finding the transition from this morning’s semi-final victory over injured Daniela Hantuchova on Court 1 too tricky initially.

Then Kvitova, the no5 seed, moved up a few gears to take the game to Bartoli with a string of impressive groundstrokes to outwit the clever two-hander and break back to level matters at 3-3. With Kvitova suddenly find her confidence to hit winners from all over the court, and no longer scared to dictate at the net, she broke in the 10th game to level matters with a 6-4 advantage.

The decisive set was neck and neck with neither player keen to relinquish the chance to claim a confidence-boasting title going into 2011 Wimbledon.

Games went with serve in a cagey affair, with Bartoli fending of! f break point to survive the scare and keep the result in the balance at 3-3. Kvitova let out a trademark joyous shriek after her neat dropshot gave her a 4-3 advantage.

With games going with serve at 5-5 it appeared that a tie-break would have to divide the pair of seeded players until Bartoli broke to lead 6-5 and served out for the title.

Kvitova kills off injured Hantuchova

Petra Kvitova bounced back from a stuttering start to overcome in-form Daniela Hantuchova (pictured) 7-6 4-2 when the Slovak star retired with a left abdominal injury.

The Czech ace was outplayed initially, losing the opening three games against rejuvenated Hantuchova, but gathered her nerves to work her way back into an intriguing tie.

With Hantuchova’s overpowering serve working to her advantage and a string of solid groundstrokes, Kvitova played a cagey game and fought back to trail 4-3 before the Slovak ace required a treatment break for an injury flare-up.

On her return the world no8 bounced back and did well to force a tie-break, but the pair were well matched and it took a marathon 11-9 result to hand Kvitova the opening set.

With Hantuchova’s movement fast deteriorating it came as no surprise that the no5 seed dominated play and dictated! from the baseline with occasion forays to the net to put away volleys and smashes.

Much to the disappointment of the enthusiastic Court 1 crowd, Hantuchova, playing her first back-to-back semi-finals for many years, had little choice but to wave the white flag and bow out graciously with her injury. Kvitova, the highest ranked player in the final four, will need to start well in this afternoon’s final if she is claim the Eastbourne title on her Devonshire Park debut.

Bartoi blasts past stuttering Stosur

Marion Bartoli reached her maiden Eastbourne final after a convincing 6-3 6-1 success over out-of-sorts Sam Stosur on a very blustery Centre Court, which affected the serving ability of the pair of seeds.

Bartoli bounced all over the court from the beginning and behaved like a prize-fighter throughout, swinging her racquet to practice shots at every opportunity. The unorthodox two-handed French ace was in formidable form to run away with the opening set,

Stosur uncharacteristically playing a defensive game and staying on the baseline. Bartoli moved through the gears in the second set, following a three minute break for a short shower to pass, and thundered drives from all corners to leave Stosur looking lost and unable to cope.

Although the crowd were desperate for a third set and very supportive of Stosur, the Australian simply could not find her rhythmn and appears lost to suffer a heavy defeat.

“Marion was hitting the ball very hard out there, and the conditions were worse than the other day – but it was just one of those things. I’ve had a great week overall and got some competitive matches on grass behind me to take to Wimbledon.

“I didn’t see Serena (Williams) play here but I think she came back too soon, she had a year out so we’ll see how she gets on next week”

– Sam Stosur

Finals Day preview: What to expect at Eastbourne

World no8 Petra Kvitova faces Slovak ace Daniela Hantuchova in the first semi-final showdown.

2010 Wimbledon semi-finalist Kvitova, the highest ranked player left, has impressed on her Devonshire Park debut and the Czech star possesses natural grass skills despite having never won a match on the surface prior to last year’s heroics at SW19.

The 21-year-old left-hander has a battle on her hands against world no25 Hantuchova, who is a rejuvenated player on her seventh visit to Eastbourne.

The 2004 Devonshire Park runner-up has registered impressive wins over French Open champion Li Na and American superstar Venus Williams to reach back-to-back singles semi-finals on the WTA Tour for the first time in four seasons.

Eastbourne regulars Sam Stosur and Marion Bartoli will battle it out for a place in the final for the first time on, and have high top form this season. World no10 Stosur stormed into her third semi-final this season, and saw off top seed Vera Zvonareva in the quarter-finals.

Unorthodox Bartoli is in her fifth successive semi-final at Devonshire Park, having bowed out graciously in the past four encounters. The French ace plays two-handed on both sides and arrived at Devonshire Park on a career-high ranking of world no9 following her heroics at Roland Garros.

An interview with Daniela Hantuchova

WTA Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

2011 AEGON International Finals Day at Eastbourne

Q. How bad is it?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: It’s not great; that’s for sure. It happened at 3 Love in the first set. I was running for a wide backhand and kind of felt a sharp pain and just was getting worse and worse from then.

Q. What are your plans between now and maybe your first match?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I don’t know. Hope for some magic and get as much treatment as I can. Seeing the doctor now, and as soon as I come to Wimbledon I will try to work with the physios and try to do something to be able to be ready for Monday.

Q. What do you feel the odds are to be able to play?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: I don’t know. It’s hard to say right now. I’m hoping every day, every hour will help. But unfortunately it’s quite frustrating knowing the way I played. Yeah, just have to take it one day at a time. We will see.

Q. Would you say the windy conditions would have had anything to do with it?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, for sure. Because I was kind of like reaching for the backhand, and then the wind took it even farther away. That’s where it happened. But probably I irritated it already before, trying to, you know, find the ball on my serve, not with the shoulder being great. So I’m sure I was kind of overcompensating and trying to figure out how to hit the shots without any pain with my shoulder, and probably that’s why the abdominal happened.

Q. It makes it extra frustrating, because you were playing so well.
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, it is. I mean, I feel like I have been having such a great two weeks. Yeah, even today I mean, the conditions were just, I think, 10 times worse than with Venus. Obviously already that was quite frustrating; plus with the injury. Yeah, it was not an easy day in the office. But I still got a lot of positives to take with me, and I feel so confident for Wimbledon. I just somehow have to take care of this, and I will give it every single effort I’ve got to be able to play and hopefully do well.

Q. It’s hard because of the mental I mean, the physical side you can hopefully get right, but it’s the mental effects of it.
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Well, I’m trying kind of to forget it now and really already be looking forward to Wimbledon. Obviously that’s the highlight of my year, and, you know, in whatever shape I will be, I will take that and give it my best shot, whatever happens.

Q. Do you feel you made it worse by playing on after it happened?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Probably, yeah. But I’m the kind of player, I will not give up until I know it’s impossible. Yeah, probably was not the smartest thing, but I just kept trying, kept fighting, because I felt like I was playing so well and really wanted to win another title here.

Q. Is it an injury you’ve had before?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: No, first time.

Ladies – Friday 17 June 2011

Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Marion Bartoli, Petra Kvitova, WTA Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

2011 AEGON International at Eastbourne

Semi-final Preview: Kvitova vs Hantuchova

Czech star Petra Kvitova faces Daniela Hantuchova in their second showdown this season, having already dismissed the Slovak star on a hard court in the Federation Cup in their previous only meeting.

World no8 Kvitova is the highest ranked player remaining and has impressed on her Devonshire Park debut, which was expected after she showed her new-found silky grass skills by racing to the 2010 Wimbledon semi-finals despite having previously never won a match on the green stuff.

The 21-year-old left-hander has only recently broken into the world’s top 10, courtesy of four titles this year including her terrific run to claim the Madrid Open by defeating Vera Zvonareva, Li Na and in-form Victoria Azarenka.

Monaco-based world no25 Hantuchova, who burst onto the singles scene almost a decade ago before concentrating on doubles, is a rejuvenated player and seems set to keep on improving with a top 10 place her personal aim.

The 28-year-old returned to the top of her game with a shock success over top seed and ex-Eastbourne champion Caroline Wozniacki at 2010 Roland Garros, and followed this success with a powerful display at Birmingham to overwhelm Ana Ivanovic and finish runner-up on grass.

This is the seventh visit to Eastbourne for Hantuchova, who is keen to improve on her Devonshire Park runner-up slot in 2004, and she is hoping to face Sam Stosur in the final in order to avenge last year’s second defeat at Eastbourne.

Hantuchova is back to her best, reflected by this week’s victories over French Open champion Li Na and American superstar Venus Williams to reach back-to-back singles semi-finals on the WTA Tour for the first time in four seasons.

Hantuchova’s advantage is not just the fact that she has realms of experience and being unseeded faces no pressure, but that she has ironed out any flaws by becoming a major success at doubles and possesses an all-round game including exceptional serve and volley skills.

Semi-final Preview: Stosur vs Bartoli

Sam StosurSam Stosur and Marion Bartoli will meet for the first time on grass as both bid to capture their maiden title of the year, and in the devastating form they are both in this tie promises to be a firecracker of a face-off.

The gutsy Australian claims that grass is not her favourite surface, but having spent most of her career winning at doubles her net and volley skills are second to none that gives her a huge advantage.

World no10 Stosur stormed into the final four with aplomb, her third semi-final this season, and was only tested in her quarter-final tie against top seed Vera Zvonareva.

Marion BartoliSurprisingly Stosur has yet to claim a grass court title despite this being the 27-year-old’s third semi-final on the bounce at Eastbourne in five visits to the English south coast event.

Unorthodox Bartoli (right) plays two-handed on both sides and arrived at Devonshire Park on a career-high ranking of world no9 following her heroics at Roland Garros, where she became the first Frenchwoman since 2005 to reach the semi-final stage.

Battling Bartoli has been in emphatic form this season, having reached two finals and six semi-finals, but has tumbled in her previous four Eastbourne semi-finals encounters in as many years.

Ladies – Thursday 16 June 2011

Agnieszka Radwanska, Marion Bartoli, Petra Kvitova, WTA Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

2011 AEGON International at Eastbourne

Hantuchova’s too hot for Venus

Daniela HantuchovaSlovak star Daniela Hantuchova registered her first ever win in 11 meetings over world no33 Venus Williams in a three set thriller 6-2 5-5 6-2 on a very blustery Centre Court.

Hantuchova cruised in the opening set 6-2 and seemed on course to wrap up the match swiftly, but the American superstar – the best grass court player on the WTA Tour – played a more aggressive game and put her opponent under intense pressure at every opportunity.

Agony for retiring Azarenka

Victoria AzarenkaMarion Bartoli notched her maiden victory over Victoria Azarenka (left) to move into the semi-finals for a fifth successive season, courtesy of a 6-2 2-0 retired result.

A repeat of last year’s semi-final had high expectations for the Court 1 crowd, but Azarenka never got out of the starting blocks and was forced to wave the white flag after being outplayed and struggling with an injury flare-up.

In six previous meetings the Belarussian acehad dropped just a single set, but battler Bartoli – who came close to a shock exit in the second round – rewrote the record books by storming away with the opening set.

Bartoli, currently at a career-high world no9 after her forays in reaching the last four at Roland Garros, has an impressive grass court pedigree by finishing runner-up at 2007 Wimbledon and four semi-final appearances on the bounce at Devonshire Park.

And Bartoli’s unorthodox style outfoxed Azarenka throughout, resulting in frustrated shrieks prior to bowing out. Interestingly Azarenka’s past five defeats prior to today have all been to the eventual champion, which should give Bartoli some hope when she plays her sixth semi-final this year.

Smashing Stosur shoots past Zvonareva

Vera ZvonarevaSam Stosur gained revenge for her only grass court defeat to the Russian top seed at 2004 Wimbledon by beating Vera Zvonareva (left) 4-6 7-6 6-4.

The ever-gutsy Australian, whose game suits grass despite the surface not being her favourite, had beaten Zvonareva in their past six matches but victory seemed unlikely after losing a tight opening set and then being forced into a tie-break.

Even the second set tie-break was fought tooth and nail at the highest quality, with Stosur triumphant. Zvonareva, who had accounted for Serena Williams in the previous round, dropped her service game once that that proved costly as she was denied a semi-final slot – having reached the last four in 2004 – by brave groundshots from the baseline from Stosur.

The Australian, who was taken unwell to bow out of the French Open, booked her third Eastbourne semi-final in four years and faces Marion Bartoli for a shot at the title.

Kvitova’s late, late show

Agnieszka Radwanska2010 Wimbledon semi-finalist Petra Kvitova left it late, after a stuttering start, to move into a semi-final showdown with Daniela Hantuchova courtesy of a 1-6 6-2 7-6 triumph against Agnieszka Radwanska (left).

The Czech ace, making her Eastbourne debut, looked out-of-sorts as her game showed flaws and she lost the opening five games before holding her serve.

The second set was in total contrast as 2008 Eastbourne champion Radwanska was exposed time and time again. However, the decisive set became a close encounter with the slippery Pole appearing to have the edge and keen to avenge last year’s defeat at SW19 – their only previous match – but Kvitova battled away for every point and continued to push herself to seal the tie-break to take a step closer to winning a fourth WTA Tour title.

Agony for retiring Azarenka

Marion Bartoli, News, Players, WTA Players

Victoria Azarenka off court 2012A repeat of last year’s semi-final had high expectations for the Court 1 crowd, but Victoria Azarenka never got out of the starting blocks and was forced to wave the white flag after being outplayed and struggling with an injury flare-up.

In six previous meetings the Belarussian ace had dropped just a single set, but battler Marion Bartoli – who came close to a shock exit in the second round – rewrote the record books by storming away with the opening set.

Bartoli, currently at a career-high world no9 after her forays in reaching the last four at Roland Garros, has an impressive grass court pedigree by finishing runner-up at 2007 Wimbledon and four semi-final appearances on the bounce at Devonshire Park.

And Bartoli’s unorthodox style outfoxed Azarenka throughout, resulting in frustrated shrieks prior to bowing out. Interestingly Azarenka’s past five defeats prior to today have all been to the eventual champion, which should give Bartoli some hope when she plays her sixth semi-final this year.

 

Ladies – Wednesday 15 June 2011

Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Ekaterina Makarova, Marion Bartoli, Petra Kvitova, WTA Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

2011 AEGON International at Eastbourne

Williams wilts to top seed Zvonareva

Top seed Vera Zvonareva battled past wildcard Serena Williams in a three set thriller 3-6 7-6 7-5.

The Russian star always held the upper hand in what became a baseline battle of attrition with neither player looking jolly on Centre Court.

It was a dour encounter, miserable-looking Williams seemed determined to fight from the back of the court and try to end points swiftly on her service games then wearing her opponent out on their serve.

Williams possessed the power strokes when she needed it but chased a ball all match, determined to preserve her energy.

Her tactics resulted in the opening set without breaking a sweat but she lost the second set on a tie-break 7-5 after taking a tumble on set point. Zvonareva’s array of weapons from the baseline carved out a 5-3 lead but the American superstar fought back to 5-5 before bowing out 7-5.

Click here for VIDEO of Zvonareva v Williams

Bartoli blasts past Martinez-Sanchez

Seeded Marion Bartoli looked formidable as she taught Spanish star Marie-Jose Sanchez-Martinez (left) a lesson on how to win on grass with a comfortable 6-3 6-3 triumph.

The unorthodox French ace, an Eastbourne regular, stared defeat in the face yesterday but survived to tell the tale and lifted her game to easily despatch her opponent.

Bartoli started to rally in the opening set, but with the advantage and Sanchez-Martinez struggling near the net she cleverly mixed up her game to run out a worthy winner.

Radwanska races past Schiavone

AgnieszkaRadwanska2012Exhausted looking French Open runner-up Francesca Schiavone succumbed to 2008 Eastbourne champion Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets 6-3 6-2.

The Polish ace was in total control from the start and breezed past the London-based Italian courtesy of an attacking game plan that paid dividends.

Radwanska’s speed around court and string of winners from the baseline gave Schiavone a lesson in grass court tactics as she cruised into the quarter-finals of arguably the toughest tournament ever at Devonshire Park.

Kvitova kills off Russian star

Seeded Petra Kvitova ousted defending champion Ekaterina Makarova in two tight tie-breaks to book a quarter-final berth.

The Russian star, who was the last direct entry into the main draw and who almost did not defend her title won so majestically, seemed on course to continue her exceptional Devonshire Park run until Kvitova sneaked the first tie-break 10-8.

The second set was neck-and-neck with another tie-break required, that the Czech ace won 7-4 for 7-6 7-6 result.

Stosur storms past qualifier

Gutsy Australian Sam Stosur overwhelmed qualifier Bojana Jovanski 6-3 6-2 in blustery conditions and stays on course to equal her best Eastbourne run of a semi-final spot.

The up-and-coming Serbian star seemed to run out of energy after an impressive run at Devonshire Park and wilted without much of a battle. Stosur’s all-round game, preened from years of playing doubles, produced excellent winners and good volleying although her suspect backhand was again exploited.

Venom of Venus sees off Ivanovic

Unseeded Venus Williams overpowered ever-improving and slim-lined Ana Ivanovic (left) 6-3 6-2 despite having problems with her serve.

The American ace was eager to swiftly end rallies and stayed predominately as the baseline, but Ivanovic was in cruise control on her service games until an umpire overrule resulted in the Serbian star denied the chance to level matters and instead lost her serve to trail 3-1.

Williams applied the pressure to seal the opening set in 33 minutes. Ivanovic foolishly changed tactics for the second set, which became a basement battle that Williams won with a string of thunderbolt drives.

Brave Baltacha bounces out

free mobile alertsBritish no1 Elena Baltacha fell in straight sets 6-1 7-6 to no3 seed Victoria Azarenka on Court 1, ending her hopes of equalling last year’s Eastbourne run to the quarter-finals.

The Belarussian was in formidable form to give the battling Brit the runaround from the start to cruise in the opening set. With the supportive crowd looking for more of a contest Baltacha lifted her game a few gears and forced Azarenka into making errors.

A one-sided tie-break followed but the adventurous Azarenka showed no fear and overpowered her opponent with a string of brave winners without dropping a single point.