Roddick’s love match

2013 AEGON International

Golfer Andy Roddick

Ball control: Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick, last year’s AEGON International champion, amazingly found himself in the world’s top 40 despite having hung up his racquet following the 2012 US Open.

The American ace, who breezed to the 2012 Eastbourne Tennis title on his Devonshire Park debut, moved up the Singles rankings to no40 on Valentine’s Day without even playing a competitive match on the ATP Tour for almost six months.

However, his elevation back into the world’s top 40 was shortlived as the veteran ex-world no1 officially retired from the ATP Tour in mid-February 2013 following his announcement  – on his 30th birthday last August – to retire from the sport.

Flamboyant Roddick, whose final match was the rain-delayed defeat to Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro at September’s US Open, has since entered just one professional golf tournament (off a handicap of six). However, although he teamed up with pro John Mallinger the pair missed the cut to get the final round at the 2013 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in the United States.

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.


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.”


Brilliant shine as Bartoli mops up

Lucie Safarova, Marion Bartoli, News, Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Bartoli2012Marion 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.”


Barthel battered in Birmingham

Ekaterina Makarova, Elena Vesnina, Laura Robson, News, Players, WTA Players

Mona Barthel Beaten in BirminghamMona Barthel will arrive at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park keen to made amends for her poor performance on grass at Birmingham.

The German star, seeded no6 at the AEGON Classic at the Edgbaston Priory Club, was ousted by Czech Republic stunner Andrea Hlavackova in straight sets.

The 25-year-old, a Doubles specialist who won the 2011 French Open with compatriot Lucie Hradecka without conceding a set, saw off Barthel 7-6 6-2.

American teenage sensation Christina McHale, set to make her Eastbourne debut this year, was ousted 6-1 1-6 7-5 in a ding-dong battle to Russian 29-year-old Elena Vesnina.

Fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, seeded no8, was given the runaround in her 7-6 6-3 tussle to beat Kazakhstan’s Sesil Karatantcheva.

Ex-Eastbourne champion Makarova next faces New Zealand no1 Marina Erakovic – the no9 seed – who delivered the knockout blow to Britain’s Laura Robson 6-4 3-6 6-4.

And fellow Brit Melanie South put on a brave battling display before succumbing to former world no1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, seeded no5, 6-1 7-6.