‘Terrible’ Bartoli bows out

2013 AEGON International, Marion Bartoli, News, Players

Marion BartoliMarion Bartoli, a former Eastbourne champion, withdrew from the 2013 AEGON International citing ill health.

The popular French ace, who breezed through her opening match, has been a regular at Devonshire Park although this year was unseeded.

She was set to face China’s no1 Li Na in a 2nd Round clash, but was unable to seek revenge for the defeat in their last meeting three seasons ago in Dubai.

Bartoli said: “I have a virus and a fever, so I’m feeling really terrible at the moment. I’m really disappointed to have to withdraw from Eastbourne because I have always done well at this tournament.

“I started to feel a bit like this on Monday, but each day it got worse. After a few days of rest I will hopefully be back on court to get ready for Wimbledon.”

Li’s lesson in finishing for Cornet

2013 AEGON International, Alize Cornet, Li Na, News

By Xavier Harley-Rudd

li na 2013Li Na’s less than polished performance left Alize Cornet dazed and confused after the world no6 handed her a finishing lesson on Centre Court on Tuesday.

The Chinese no1 was slow off the blocks before turning on the style to ease into the 3rd Round with a 6-2 6-4 triumph, which was delayed by 30 minutes because of a spectator injury.

Li, who hit the heady heights of becoming the 2011 French Open champion, has struggled recently and upset the media in China with abrupt comments.

But Li breezed past her French opponent despite the initial shockingly series of breaks of serve – four in the first six games.

Once Li found her footing on the surface following a testing clay court season, then she moved into cruise control to roll away with the opening set.

Cornet’s nerves showed at 2-2, losing her serve, but there came what proved to be a timely delay to the tie following a spectator injury that required East Sussex Fire Brigade to come to the rescue as they were there for a familiarisation tour.

The half-an-hour delay at least gave Cornet some time for thought, but the power game employed by gutsy Li proved too hot to handle.


Kerber’s back to business

2013 AEGON International, Angelique Kerber, News, Players, Sorana Cirstea

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Angelique KerberAngelique Kerber, the world no6, dispatched Sorana Cirstea on Tuesday with a business-like display in a tricky tie that keeps last year’s finalist on course to win Eastbourne.

Kerber reeled off a 6-4 6-4 success without ever really getting out of first gear as she drove past the equally pretty Cirstea in one of the clashes deemed to be a battle of the babes.

The German ace fluffed five match points to concede the 2012 AEGON International title to qualifier Tamira Paszek of Austria, so is expected to steamroll her way to another final.

But Romanian Cirstea was hardly steamrolled past, and put up a strong battle before bowing out in their entertaining 1st Round tie.

Unorthodox but effective Kerber had impressed during the clay court season, polished off by a last 16 place at the 2013 French Open, and continued her fine form against the gritty Cirstea.

Romanian Cirstea is consistent if not a winner, having only captured one WTA Tour crown during her career and a semi-final spot at the Pattaya Open her best run this term.

Cirstea matched Kerber in terms of the big shots, and was riding on a crest of confidence on grass following her run to the quarter-finals at last week’s AEGON Classic in Birmingham that lifted the Romanian to her highest world ranking of no22.

But Kerber’s power game eased her into the next phase, adding another straight set victory over Cirstea this season, and remains on course to come out on top at Eastbourne this year and not settle for second best again.


2013 AEGON International, Juan MONACO
Monaco, JuanMonaco, Juan

Tandil, Argentina
Buenos Aires, Argentina
6’1″ (185 cm)
169 lbs (77 kg)
Turned Pro

The Argentine began playing tennis when he was seven and turned pro in 2002, although it wasn’t until 2004, when he broke into the ATP top 100, that he established himself on the world stage. That year he won the Sao Paulo Challenger and made his Roland Garros debut. In 2005 he reached his first ATP final in Casablanca.

After a relatively quiet 2006, in which he still managed to climb into the top 75 in the rankings, he enjoyed an incredible 2007 by picking up three ATP titles on clay (Buenos Aires, Portschach and Kitzbuhel), as well as advancing to the last sixteen in the Roland Garros, all of which resulted in him being catapulted to number 23.

In 2008, and despite not winning anything, he achieved his highest ever position in the ATP ranking table (14) after reaching the latter stages of a number of different tournaments. That year he lost the Viña del Mar final which kick started a terrible run of misfortune that would see him lose seven consecutive finals. During this drought he reached the semi-finals of the Masters 1000 in Shanghai (2010) and the quarter-finals in Rome, Indian Wells and Paris.

He finally broke the curse in February 2012, picking up the fourth title of his career by beating fellow countryman Carlos Belocq in, quite aptly, the final of the Viña del Mar. Monaco is also an accomplished doubles player, a category for which he has been bestowed with two titles. He represented Argentina in the Davis Cup final in 2011, where the South Americans lost out to Spain in Seville.

Bring on Berdych

EXCLUSIVE, Men's Singles, Players

Tomas Berdych

Big hit: Tomas Berdych

With the names of this year’s competitors in the Men’s AEGON International being a closely guarded secret by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), there are four players who definitely will not be at Devonshire Park.

Marcos Baghdatis, who made an unspectacular appearance at Eastbourne, has signed up for the Topshelf Open in the Netherlands that takes place during the same week as the 2013 AEGON International.

Spaniard David Ferrer, American giant John Isner and Pole Stanislas Wawrinka are also among the names to warm up for Wimbledon in Holland.

Yet Czech star Tomas Berdych seems to be the most likely – and probably only – top 10 player from the ATP Tour to visit Eastbourne, although that will obviously depend on his progress at the previous week’s event at Queen’s Club in London as to whether he will opt for a wildcard entry.

Former Czech Republic aces have frequented Devonshire Park in the past, and the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up will listen to advice from coach Ivan Ljubicic about whether to warm-up for the Championships at Devonshire Park if Queens doesn’t go to plan.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was displeased with having to commit to play at Eastbourne after he reached the 2011 final at Queen’s Club, which was completed on the Monday due to the weather.

But the French ace had signed up to compete at the AEGON International, so begrudgingly played and at the ensuing press conference following defeat blasted the schedule. He has vowed never to return to Eastbourne.

Olympic champion Andy Murray is another player unlikely to ever make an AEGON International appearance, especially after his mother Judy strongly criticised Eastbourne and called it a “sleepy town”.

The usual suspects that are probable arrivals at Eastbourne include South African Kevin Anderson, Spaniard Pablo Andujar, France’s Julien Benneteau, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt, Poland’s Lukasz Kubot, Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu, Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen, American Sam Querrey, Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky and Russian Dmitry Tursunov.