Stosur prepared to bounce back

2013 AEGON International, Players, Sam Stosur

 

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

sam stosur 1Sam Stosur has set herself a mission at Eastbourne of causing some shock results in her determined to return to the world’s top 10.

The industrious Australian has only slipped out of the elite world ranking following a disappointing run at the 2013 French Open, coupled with recent injuries keeping her off the circuit.

But Stosur’s experience for winning titles – both at Singles and Doubles – coupled with her aggressive style of play and her infamous signature kick serve should cause problems for opponents during the grass season.

She only opted for wildcard entries at both Birmingham and Eastbourne at the very last minute having contemplated just practicing ahead of Wimbledon.

And although she will not be seeded at the 2013 AEGON International she truly does possess all the necessary weapons to cause havoc in the draw, although is unlikely to get further than the semi-finals. Yet her progress will be dependent on the draw as this year’s tournament has attracted the usual array of leading ladies.

But Stosur, troubled by a calf injury during the gruelling clay court season, is determined to get back on track both in terms of long-term fitness and world ranking.

As a Grand Slam champion at Singles, Ladies Doubles and Mixed Doubles, Stosur will biting at the chomp to make an impression at Devonshire Park ahead of her shot at making an impact at The Championships.

Stosur explained: “The way that I play is an aggressive style, fast and explosive. I try to get on the point as quickly as possible, and my overall work along with my coach puts it all into place.

“When I was very young, probably 10, I had a coach that taught me the correct technique to hit the serve the way that I hit it. And as I got older my serves got better, so I have the basis of everything that I need each time in my serve.

“I have the same routine before each match and for few years I have used a sports psychologist. I have learned what works for me to mentally get ready for a match, to get over a loss or to handle a big win.

“The mental side of things is important at this level because everyone can hit the ball pretty well, so I believe that what can really make the difference between winning and losing comes down to handling things mentally.

sam stosur eastbourne 2011“But moving from clay to grass I find that my ankles and joints are a little bit sore because of that gripping on the grass.

“And I have to be ready to adapt as quickly as possible, because on grass the ball doesn’t bounce so high – but as the years go on I try and do whatever I can before playing too much on that surface.”

Stosur will no doubt be seeking to play plenty of matches at Birmingham’s AEGON Classic in preparation for her return to Devonshire Park, having missed Eastbourne – arguably the world’s friendliest grass court tournament – last year to compete in Holland.

But with such an array of talent from the world’s top 10 vying for glory at Eastbourne, it is extremely doubtful that Stosur will go to SW19 having played too much tennis on grass. Although the battling Australian ace can never be discounted, and Devonshire Park has a history of unexpected champions.

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Fantastique Simon’s fired up

Gilles SIMON, News, Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

gilles simon 2013Gilles Simon, the top seed for the 2013 AEGON International, will be ready to make an impact at Devonshire Park with the delightful seaside town likely to suit his laidback persona both on and off the court.

The in-form French ace is aiming to add another title as he prepares for a shot at finally making an impact at Wimbledon. His playing style and tactics suit fast surfaces, so taking the grass court crown at Eastbourne is certainly a strong possibility.

Often referred to by the French media simply as “fantastique!”, despite briefly cracking the world’s top 10 in 2008, Simon has had to settle for being a top 20 hit rather than one of the Grand Slam potential champions.

Because Simon can’t hit the ball with the same sort of pace as today’s leading players, he takes the power off his opponent’s shots and zaps their energy.

He is a grinder who gets almost every shot back, and the longer the match goes on then the more winners Simon comes up. He has the incredible ability to take the pace off the ball but then powerfully return the shot to try to outfox opponents.

Simon’s ability to anticipate where the ball will be placed increases the pressure on opponents, which forces them out of their comfort zone and begins to give him the upper hand.

Gilles SimonSo grass should suit him as he has a tendency to play low shots without pace, often opting to drive the ball down the middle of the court. These tactics have long worked wonders since he joined the Tour in 2002.

He can make opponents suddenly become vulnerable as they cannot comfortably attack low balls and have no angles to work with from the centre of the court.

Simon explained: “When I play a shot, most of the time I already know where the ball is going to come back to me.

“I try to stay as relaxed as possible, but it’s never easy to find a good balance of being focused and being relaxed at the same time – on the inside, at times, I do feel nervous.

“But my aim, of course, is to win the biggest titles possible. It’s been a long while since I beat one of the top four players – Nadal, Djokovic, Murray or Federer.”

He has defeated two top 10 players already this season, Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro and former Eastbourne runner-up Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia.

But unless Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych opts for a wildcard then Simon won’t have to face another ATP Tour top 10 player during his week in Eastbourne.

Whether Simon, who has never been past the 4th Round at Wimbledon, will be able to add the 2013 Eastbourne crown as his 12th Singles title remains to be seen.

Subdued Stosur selects return

EXCLUSIVE, News, Players, Sam Stosur, WTA Players

Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Samantha Stosur of Australia serves duriSam Stosur, who will drop out of the world’s top 10 for the first time since 2011 coming into Eastbourne, has made entering the 2013 AEGON International priority over training.

The Australian has been granted a wildcard entry to Devonshire Park, the traditional warm-up event for Wimbledon, and is relieved to see the gruelling clay court season come to a halt.

The current world no9 exited the 2013 French Open to former world no1 Jelena Jankovic in the 3rd Round and in recent seasons competed in the grass court tournaments at Eastbourne (2011) and ‘s-Hertogenbosch (2012) ahead of Wimbledon.

Stosur, who has not been past the 2nd Round at SW19 since 2009, refused to finalise her schedule until she weighed up all her options and was no longer involved in the French Open Ladies Doubles with the London-based Italian Francesca Schiavone.

But she is desperate to end her string of indifference results and is seeking to gain momentum, having overcome a calf injury that disrupted her build-up to Roland Garros. The Australian ace has also been granted a wildcard entry at the less prestigious but nevertheless testing tournament at Birmingham, the AEGON Classic, which starts next Monday.

The 2011 US Open winner’s career has not taken off as expected since her maiden Grand Slam success.

Stosur said: “I decided last year that I’d maybe try something a little bit different ahead of preparing for Wimbledon.

“I have assessed the time I’ve got to get stuck into the practice and my aim is to try and have a good Wimbledon.

“I am starting to feel better about my tennis after having a very stop-start first five months of the year. I guess the clay court season is over for the moment and then I head onto the grass, and we’ll see what happens there.

“It’s a challenge going onto the grass for me, it’s another opportunity to turn my form around.”

Radwanska’s role as leading lady

2013 AEGON International, Agnieszka Radwanska, Alize Cornet, Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, Elena Baltacha, Elena Vesnina, Johanna Konta, Klara Zakopalova, Laura Robson, Li Na, Lucie Safarova, Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, Petra Kvitova, Players, Roberta Vinci, Sara Errani, Seeds, Sloane Stephens, Sorana Cirstea, Su-Wei Hsieh, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Tamira Paszek, Varvara Lepchenko, Yanina Wickmayer, Yaroslava Shvedova

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

2013 entrants and seeds

Sara ErraniSara Errani, who brilliantly battled her way to the semi-finals at Roland Garros, misses Eastbourne with a late withdrawal.
The exciting Italian is suffering from both a foot injury and an abductor strain.
But her loss has elevated Aussie ace Sam Stosur to provisionally become a seeded player, although that is dependent following her shock exit at the 2013 French Open.
Russian regular Nadia Petrova and France’s Marion Bartoli are battling it out with Stosur to take the final no8 seeding.
Stosur, who only made late applications for wildcard entries at both Birmingham and Eastbourne grass court court events, will be among the players expected to progress during the week-long tournament.
With Li Na also granted a wildcard entry following a poor performance at the 2013 French Open, then the Chinese no1 has stepped into the shoes of Errani to take over as no2 seed. Li will be extremely eager to kick start her grass court season with progress at Devonshire Park.
Two former Eastbourne champions, top seed Agnieszka Radwanska and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki will provide stiff opposition on their favourite surface.
Angelique Kerber fluffed five match points in the 2012 AEGON International final to Austrian ace Tamira Paszek, so the German star will be determined to go one step better having learnt from her mistakes.
Former Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova as never had much luck at Eastbourne, and the Czech Republic ace will be keen to put that record straight ahead of SW19.
Maria Kirilenko and Serbian star Ana Ivanovic will bring glamour to the courts as well as their amazing array of tennis weapons, although the Russian is unlikely to make much impact in a tough draw.
Seeds are:

  1. Agnieszka RADWANSKA
  2. LI Na
  3. Angelique KERBER
  4. Petra KVITOVA
  5. Caroline WOZNIACKI
  6. Maria KIRILENKO
  7. Ana IVANOVIC
  8. Nadia PETROVA

Simon snatches top billing

2013 AEGON International, Alexandr DOLGOPOLOV, Andreas Seppi, Bernard TOMIC, Denis Istomin, Fabio FOGNINI, Feliciano LOPEZ, Fernando VERDASCO, Gilles SIMON, Grega ZEMLJA, Ivan DODIG, Jarkko NIEMINEN, Juan MONACO, Julien BENNETEAU, Kevin ANDERSON, Martin KLIZAN, Philipp KOHLSCHREIBER, Players, Radek STEPANEK, Thomaz BELLUCCI, Viktor TROICKI

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

2013 entrants and seeds

gilles simon top seed 2013Gilles Simon, the 28-year-old from Nice, is the top seed as the highest ranked of the trio from the world’s top 20 ATP players due compete at the 2103 AEGON International.

Simon, who reached the dizzy heights of world no6 is nicknamed “Gilou” with his most significant success over Rafael Nadal in Madrid five years ago.

Although British fans will probably remember the current world no17 bowing out to Olympic champion Andy Murray at the 2013 Australian Open.

German Phillip Kohlschreiber (world no18) missed out on being seeded no1 and has the perfect all round game that is suited to grass, so is the most probable champion.

Argentinian Juan Monaco (world no20) is the no3 seed but is a clay court expert so is likely to find the adjustment from a gruelling season on a slower surface difficult to adjust to.

In form Kevin Anderson has been given the no4 seeding and the 6 foot 8 inch South African star will be a force to be reckoned with courtesy of his thundering serve and game suited to fast surfaces.

Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov, a Devonshire Park regular, takes the no5 slot with former Eastbourne champion Andreas Seppi of Italy a dangerous opponent as no6 seed.

Seppi’s compatriot Fabio Fognini takes the no7 berth with French ace Julien Benneteau completing the eight seeds.

But the player that the seeds will be aiming to avoid will be Monaco-based Australian Bernard Tomic, who in 2011 became the first teenager since Boris Becker to reach the Men’s Singles semi-finals at Wimbledon.

Tomic stuttered out of the 2012 AEGON International in three sets to Fognini despite being the no4 seed and was booed off the Wimbledon courts following his destruction of the grass with his racquet after tasting defeat.

Czech Republic’s Radek Stepanek will be another difficult opponent, and if compatriot Tomas Berdych – a top 10 player – has a shortlived experience at Queen’s in London then he will listen to whether his coach Ivan Ljubicic wants him to warm-up Wimbledon as a Devonshire Park wildcard.

Thomaz Belluci has withdrawn from the tournament, which isn’t the first time that the Brazilian has opted to skip the event.

Men’s Provisional Seeds

Seed

Men

Nation

1

Gilles SIMON  France

2

Phillip KOHLSCHREIBER  Germany

3

Juan MONACO  Argentina

4

Kevin ANDERSON  South Africa

5

Alexandr DOLGOPOLOV  Ukraine

6

Andreas SEPPI  Italy

7

Fabio FOGNINI  Italy

8

Julien BENNETEAU  France

The entrants confirmed are:

  1. Gilles SIMON (France)
  2. Philipp KOHLSCHREIBER (Germany)
  3. Juan MONACO (Argentina)
  4. Kevin ANDERSON (South Africa)
  5. Alexandr DOLGOPOLOV (Ukraine)
  6. Andreas SEPPI (Italy)
  7. Fabio FOGNINI (Italy)
  8. Julien BENNETEAU (France)
  9. Martin KLIZAN (Slovakia)
  10. Jarkko NIEMINEN (Finland)
  11. Viktor TROICKI (Serbia)
  12. Feliciano LOPEZ (Spain)
  13. Denis ISTOMIN (Uzbekistan)
  14. Radek STEPANEK (Czech Republic)
  15. Ivan DODIG (Croatia)
  16. Grega ZEMLJA (Slovenia)
  17. Bernard TOMIC (Australia)
  18. Fernando VERDASCO (Spain)

2013 entrants – exclusive

Agnieszk Radwanska
Squat a winner: Agnieszka Radwanska
CLICK HERE FOR UP-TO-DATE LADIES ENTRANTS

Ladies (WTA Tour) // Another strong line-up at Devonshire Park will see former Eastbourne champion Agnieszka Radwanska provisionally head the seedings.

The 24-year-old Pole has been a regular favourite at the AEGON International and amongst the large Polish community in the seaside town.

Ex-Eastbourne winner, and briefly the world no1, Caroline Wozniacki returns to the AEGON International keen to sharpen her grass court skills ahead of The Championships at SW1.

Czech ace Petra Kvitova knows how to win on grass, having been crowned Wimbledon champion but failing to then crack the world’s top three as predicted by experts and former players.

Rising star Sara Errani of Italy and seasoned professional Marion Bartoli of France are among other big guns who will be fired up for a shot at glory.

The players set to compete at the 2013 AEGON International are:

  1. Agniezka Radwanska (Poland)
  2. Sara Errani (Italy)
  3. Angelique Kerber (Germany)
  4. Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic)
  5. Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)
  6. Nadia Petrova (Russia)
  7. Maria Kirilenko (Russia)
  8. Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)
  9. Marion Bartoli (France)
  10. Roberta Vinci (Italy)
  11. Sloane Stephens (USA)
  12. Ekaterina Makarova (Russia)
  13. Klara Zakopalova (Czech Republic)
  14. Sorana Cirstea (Romania)
  15. Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic)
  16. Yaroslava Shvedova (Kazakhstan)
  17. Tamira Paszek (Austria)
  18. Alize Cornet (France)
  19. Varvara Lepchenko (USA)
  20. Elena Vesnina (Russia)
  21. Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia)
  22. Laura Robson (Great Britain)
  23. Su-Wei Hsieh (Taipei)
  24. Yanina Wickmayer (Belgium)
2013 AEGON International, Agnieszka Radwanska, Alize Cornet, Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, Elena Vesnina, EXCLUSIVE, Flavia Pennetta, Klara Zakopalova, Ladies Singles, Laura Robson, Li Na, Lucie Safarova, Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, Petra Kvitova, Players, Roberta Vinci, Sara Errani, Sloane Stephens, Sorana Cirstea, Su-Wei Hsieh, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Tamira Paszek, Varvara Lepchenko, WTA Players, Yanina Wickmayer, Yaroslava Shvedova

PHILIPP KOHLSCHREIBER

2013 AEGON International, Philipp KOHLSCHREIBER
Kohlschreiber, PhilippKohlschreiber, Philipp

 
Birthplace:
Augsburg, Germany
Residence
Altstaetten, Switzerland
Height
5’10” (178 cm)
Weight
154 lbs (70 kg)
Plays
Right-handed
Turned Pro
2001 

Born on the 16th of October, 1983, this German tennis player reached the Top 100 in the ranking at 21 years of age. He steadily grew and progressed and ended 2007, his most successful year in terms of matches won, having moved 28 positions up the list at 32nd in the world, notching up 33 victories in the process.

In 2008 he became the German No.1 and on the 28th of September of 2009 he reached the highest point in his career when he played in the final in Metz and the semi-finals in Halle and Vienna, moving him up into the No. 22 spot in the ATP rankings.

In 2010 he finished up among the 35 best in the world for the fourth consecutive year and had become a regular on the men’s circuit.

He has won three singles titles in his career (Munich in 2007, Auckland in 2008 and Halle in 2011), but his true expertise is in doubles, a category in which he has won six tournaments, despite the fact that he’s never had a permanent partner.

He has played alongside Burgsmuller, Koubek, Youzhny and Kas and between 2005 and 2009 has always come away with a men’s doubles trophy.

His best result in a Grand Slam tournament has been getting through to the last sixteen, which he has achieved on three occasions: twice at the Australian Open (2005 and 2008) and once at the Roland Garros (2009).

GILLES SIMON

Gilles SIMON
Simon, Gilles Simon, Gilles

 
Birthplace:
Nice, France
Residence
Neuchatel, Switzerland
Height
6′ (183 cm)
Weight
154 lbs (70 kg)
Plays
Right-handed
Turned Pro
2002
Gilles Simon was born of the 27th of December, 1984 and started playing tennis at six years of age.
 
Nicknamed Poussin, which means “little one”, his favourite surface is the hard court and the backhand his shot of choice. In 2004 he qualified for his first ATP tournament in Metz and a year later made his Grand Slam debut at the Roland Garros, exiting after the first round.
 
In 2006 he played his first ATP final in Valencia, losing to Nicolás Almagro and the following year he won his first two ATP titles when he won in Marseilles and Bucharest.

In October 2008 he reached his first Mutua Madrid Open where he defeated Rafa Nadal in the semi-finals but lost in the final against Andy Murray.

In October of that year he moved into the No 10 spot of the ATP rankings by winning ATP titles in Bucharest, Indianapolis and Casablanca. On the 5th of January of 2009 he reached the No.6 spot in the ATP rankings, his highest to date.

Later that year, in October, he won at Bangkok only to be unable to compete for most of the following year due to an injury to his right knee. Once back in action, though, he won the ATP tournament in Metz.

In 2011, a year he started at number 41 in the ATP rankings, he won his eighth and ninth titles in Sydney and Hamburg. A day later, he was the ATP No. 11.

Li Na

2013 AEGON International, Li Na, Players
Li Na

Birthplace
Wuhan, China
Residence
Wuhan, China
Height
5′ 7 3/4″ (1.72 m)
Weight
143 lbs. (65 kg)
Plays
Right-handed
Turned Pro
1999
Despite being a veteran on the WTA Tour, China’s Li Na is arguably one of the fittest ladies on circuit at the moment. She won the 2011 French Open months after becoming the first Asian to reach a Grand Slam final – the 2011 Australian Open. Li finished the 2006 season as world no21 and since 2009 she has been consistently among the highfliers. Her incredible array of skills, determination and natural prowess have kept her as top 10 ace that players wish to avoid in the early rounds of tournaments.

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.