Kerber keen on crown

Angelique Kerber, Marion Bartoli

Angelique Kerber2012Angelique Kerber, the only player in the semi-final draw to have claimed a WTA Tour title this season, is set to serve up a warning ahead of Wimbledon and the Olympics.

The German ace has been in incredible form at Devonshire Park, scything through the opposition having taken an instant liking to the low bounce on grass.

Kerber said:

Winning gives me a lot of confidence. I just try to focus on me, try to make my game plan and to play until the end.

“It’s good to have one more match or maybe two more matches before Wimbledon – this was my goal for playing here.

But Marion Bartoli, the other in-form player throughout the AEGON International, is desperate to defend her title – and become the first at Eastbourne since Belgian Justine Henin achieved the feat in 2007.

Although rising star Kerber aims to claim her third title this term, to boast her confidence ahead of the back-to-back majors of Wimbledon and London 2012 at SW19, Bartoli will be hoping to show the French Tennis Federation (FFT) that they were foolish to ignore her for the Games.

Bartoli, the world no8, has been omitted from automatic selection for the French Olympic Team as she has not played in the Fed Cup over the past four years. And the FFT refused to nominate her for a wildcard.

Bartoli, whose unorthodox game is suited to grass, will be especially eager to win at Eastbourne and carry her impressive form into Wimbledon – where she finished runner-up in 2007 – so that she can turn round to the FFT and say ‘Zut alors!’ or words to that effect.

She explained:

I’m feeling in good form right now and this year I’m playing quite honestly as well.

“It’s good for me to have this kind of form before Wimbledon, but what I do feel on grass is my steps are very strong.”

2012 Friday Men’s Preview

Andreas Seppi, Andy Roddick, Bernard TOMIC, Denis Istomin, Fabio FOGNINI, Philipp KOHLSCHREIBER

AEGON InternationalThe quarter-finals at the AEGON International feature the no3, no6 and no7 seeds.

Three of the players remaining have won at least one ATP World grass court title, and four are looking for a first career title on the surface.

Subject to confirmation, and obviously the weather, the men’s quarter-finals and semi-finals will be contested on Friday – delayed from Thursday because of rain and rain breaks at Eastbourne on Thursday.

No7 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal on the grass at Halle last week, is up against no3 seed and defending champion Andreas Seppi.

The German no2 has a 3-2 career mark over the top Italian, although Seppi won the last meeting in the 2nd Round at Rotterdam in February. This will be their first meeting on grass.

Kohlschreiber comes into his sixth ATP Tour quarter-final of the season with a 27-13 match record, and his best result was a fourth career title in Munich last month.

And last week he opened the grass court circuit with a run to the semi-final in Halle, losing to countryman and eventual champion Tommy Haas.

Seppi is also making his sixth quarter-final showing of the season, and last month he picked up his second career title in Belgrade.

Italian Fabio Fognini and no6 seed Andy Roddick square off for the first time.

Fognini, appearing in his first career ATP World Tour quarter-final on grass after back-to-back three sets wins over Albert Ramos and no4 seed Bernard Tomic, is playing in his second quarter-final of the season. On April 29, he reached his maiden ATP Tour final in Bucharest. The 25-year-old Italian is 11-11 win-loss ration this season.

Roddick came into Eastbourne losing six consecutive matches, the longest streak of his career, and world ranked no33. But a retirement win over fellow American Sam Querrey ended the losing streak and on Wednesday he only lost eight points in 10 service games en route to a 6-2 7-6 win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.

The former world no1 and three-time Wimbledon finalist is appearing in his third ATP Tour quarter-final of the year. But the 29-year-old American is trying to reach his first semi-final since last August in Winston-Salem, USA. 

American Ryan Harrison looks to even his record against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan. In their previous meeting on the ATP Tour at San Jose in February 2010, Istomin won in straight sets. Harrison’s win-loss record is 16-14 on the season and he’s already surpassed his match wins total from last year of 14.

The Texas resident, aged 20, is playing in his third ATP Tour quarter-final on as many surfaces – clay, grass and hard – this year. His best result was the semi-finals at San Jose in February.

Istomin comes into his fourth ATP Tour quarter-final this season with a 20-18 win-loss record.

Aussie qualifier Marinko Matosevic takes on Belgian Steve Darcis for the first time.

Matosevic is also playing in a third ATP World quarter-final on as many surfaces. He reached his first ATP final at Delray Beach in March.

Darcis’ win-loss record is 10-10 on the season, and this is his third quarter-final. His last ATP Tour semi-final came in July 2008, when he was runner-up in Amersfoort.

Brilliant Bartoli mops up

Marion Bartoli

Marion BartoliMarion Bartoli moved one step closer to retaining her AEGON International crown with another impressive display on her favourite surface.

The French star appearing much more formidable than when she won the 2011 Eastbourne title, overwhelmed Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-2 on Centre Court – and whacked down eight exceptional aces.

The no7 seed never got out of the starting blocks, with Bartoli dictating the game from her very start to stun the Czech Republic ace.

Bartoli, the no4 seed, conceded just two points on her serve and polished off the one-way contest with a thunderous ace to send Safarova crashing out with a whimper.

Bartoli, in her ninth Eastbourne event on the trot, admitted:

I’m feeling in good form right now because I’m playing quite well – it’s good to have this kind of form before Wimbledon – and I’m feeling I’m serving well.

“But today I was glad to finish before the rain started. On grass you have to be very careful, because when it gets wet you can really hurt yourself quite badly – which is the last thing you want to do three days before a Grand Slam.

“So far I’m able to able to play well and to stay consistent into my matches, which is really important on grass.

“I truly feel it’s every time I’m playing the first match in a tournament. I was glad I was able to play quite well already, and I’m improving.”