Roddick on a mission

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

Friday 2012 Round-Up by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Roddick races through to final

Final countdown: Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick squares off against reigning champion Andreas Seppi in the Eastbourne final, having only been served one difficult match on his Devonshire Park debut.

The world no33 collected much-needed grass court practice to capture his 600th ATP Tour victory courtesy of back-to-back wins.

With rain delaying the quarter-finals by a day, the eight competitors had their work cut out – especially with the blustery weather conditions – as the semi-finals needed to also be played.

Italian Seppi was first to step onto the stage and began delivering a perfect act when leading 7-5, 2-1, only for German Philipp Kohlschreiber to be forced to retire because of an ankle injury.

Seppi next opponent was 20-year-old American Ryan Harrison, was held off Denis Istomin in the opening tiebreak 7-5 to register a slender 7-6 6-4 triumph.

But despite his youthfulness Harrison was outplayed by wily Seppi, the contest completed in 75 minutes with Seppi soaring through to his second Eastbourne final on the bounce with a comfortable 7-5 6-1 success.

Roddick squeezed through to the semi-final stafe with a fiercely fought contest against Fabio Fognini.

The Italian handed the 29-year-old a number of scares before succumbing to the three-time Wimbledon finalist 6-3 3-6 7-5.

Belgian Steve Darcis saw off Australian qualifier Marinko Matosevic courtesy of winning the second set tiebreak 7-4, booking a showdown with Roddick after sealing a 6-2 7-6 triumph.

American ace Roddick appeared untroubled by the windy weather, and marched through the games as though it was a practice match. But Darcis was forced to retire with a back injury when trailing 6-3 3-1.

Roddick confessed:

It was tough out there, some of the toughest conditions to play in. But you know you’re going to have some lucky points.

“I can’t remember much tougher that I’ve played in. That wind out there is frightening. It’s not as much as about tennis today as just getting through it.

“This week has worked out. Regardless of what happens in the final I will go into Wimbledon with some wins behind me and some confidence on a surface I’m very comfortable on – so I got my game back a little this week.”

Kerber’s in seventh heaven

Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova, News, Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

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 Marion 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 semi-final 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.”


Five alive from Zakopalova

Angelique Kerber

Klara ZakopalovaEB2012Klara Zakopalova will face rising German star Angelique Kerber for an intriguing semi-final contest following her dismantling plucky Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The Czech Republic always had the upper hand against Pavlyuchenkova, running away with the opening set 6-3.

But she seemed to have a ‘blonde moment’ with a torrid start to the second half and trailing 5-2.

With the rain clouds hovering over Devonshire Park, Zakopalova calmed her nerves to play a more aggressive game and up the tempo.

But rain interrupted the match, after Pavlyuchenkova’s sixth double fault had given Zakapalova a break point – which she converted to lead a set and 6-5.

Following the rain break, the pair came back for three minutes as Zakapaolov closed out to triumph.

The spectators at Court 1 had been treated to an intriguing battle as well as spectacular shots, with Zakopalova capturing five games on the bounce to book her berth in the last four – and ultimately a shot at winning the title.

Hantuchova rocked by horror show

News, Players, WTA Players

Daniela-Hantuchova Birmingham 2012Daniela Hantuchova’s grass court season got off to a torrid start as she stalled at Birmingham’s AEGON Classic ahead of Eastbourne.

The Slovak star fell in straight sets to world no102 Melinda Czink, bowing out in a tense tight contest.

Hantuchova, who finished runner-up at last year’s AEGON Classic stuttered to a 7-5 7-6 defeat in the final Centre Court match on Wednesday.

Yet Hantuchova, who officially opened the new Indoor Tennis Centre at the Edgbaston Priory Club before the tournament, seemed in charge but slipped up when it mattered to concede the opening set.

Hungarian Czink rallied point for point throughout the second set with a resilient display. But 29-year-old Hantuchova bounced back to give herself a chance for forcing a third set, only to fall victim in a nail-biting tiebreaker – and have no answer for Czink’s 10 aces throughout the contest.

However, having withdrawn from the 2012 French Open for ‘personal reasons’, Hantuchova didn’t seem to have her heart in the clash overall and will arrive at Devonshire Park aiming to practice before the 2012 AEGON International gets underway a week before Wimbledon.


Kerber takes it step by step

Angelique Kerber, News, Players, Sara Errani

France Tennis French OpenAngelique Kerber, who was one match away from becoming the first German woman to reach the Roland Garros semi-final stage since Steffi Graf in 1999, expects to bounce back in style on grass.

The no10 seed at the 2012 French Open soared into the quarter-finals, only to be left dazed and confused by the petite Italian ace Sara Errani – the runner-up to Maria Sharapova in Paris.

Kerber was given the runaround throughout their tie, and even ran straight into the umpire’s chair during their tussle.

But the German no1 will have to control her fragile temperament if she is going to make an impact at Devonshire Park ahead of Wimbledon and London 2012.

She impressed in the early rounds to end her grueling clay court season, but was second best to the Italian.

Yet Kerber has to be among the favourites to claim the 2012 AEGON International crown, having show the skills and determination to reach the 2011 US Open semi-finals.

Whether Kerber can ever fill the massive shoes of her compatriot, the legendary Graff, remains to be seen. But she is certainly giving it her best shot – and is seen by many as a potential world no1.

She admitted: “If I want to be the best in the world then I have to be fast and resistant, I also have to think more!”