Tamira Paszek, the defending AEGON International champion, is keen to emulate her remarkable run on her return to Devonshire Park.
The 22-year-old Austrian rode her luck with ambitious and attacking play to reach the 2012 final in style. Then shocked German Angelique Kerber in three sets, saving five match points in a topsy-turvy final that had neutrals on the edge of their Centre Court seats.
Paszek not only impressed fellow WTA Tour players and the enthusiastic crowds, but her Eastbourne-based godparents throughout last year’s tournament.
The world no.30 admitted: “It would be the most amazing thing if I could win it for the second time, but the fans are always incredible and hopefully they might get behind me again – so I don’t see why it can’t happen again.
“Last year I came into it just looking to play a few games that seemed to go pretty well for me. As soon as I am on grass for two days it feels natural, and I got to the Wimbledon final of the Girls’ Singles.
“I have family who live in Eastbourne so I stay at their house, which does help relax me before the tournament and made a big difference last year.”
- 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.
Roddick’s back by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Double trouble: Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick, who only arrived at Devonshire Park courtesy of a last-gasp wildcard on the eve of the AEGON International, has waltzed into the final.
And apart from Friday’s quarter-final battle against wily Italian Fabio Fognini he has been hardly tested on his Eastbourne debut – and been handed some good fortune with two opponents retiring with injured backs against him.
Big server and American compatriot Sam Querrey retired after 24 minutes in their 1st round contest and brilliant Belgian Steve Darcis threw in the towel during their one-way semi-final clash that Roddick was easily winning.
Roddick arrived at Eastbourne on the back of his worse ever run on the ATP Tour, suffering six defeats on the bounce – partly due to a hamstring injury that sidelined him for three months.
On his return to the circuit he lost all three Round Robin matches in Dusseldorf and made immediate exits on the clay at the French Open then on the grass at Queen’s Club in London.
The 29-year-old, who chalked up his 600th win on the ATP Tour, will be aiming for his 31st Singles title on Saturday – his first final appearance since February 2011 when he beat Milos Raonic to claim the Memphis crown.
There’s a lot of times when you make plans where you draw the perfect scenario and you draw up a script and it doesn’t work out – but this week has worked out.
“Regardless of what happens I will go into Wimbledon with some wins behind me and some confidence on a surface I’m very comfortable on – I got my game back a little bit this week.
“If you’d have asked me last week after I lost at Queen’s I was probably a lot more negative than I would be right now.
“I don’t know that I can play 26 events a year anymore or be on the road 45 weeks a year with my body the way it is, but fortunately for me Grand Slams are only two weeks long.”
Tamira Paszek saw off the challenge of French star Marion Bartoli with a fiercely-fought three set thriller over 185 gruelling minutes.
The 21-year-old Austrian ace saw off the defending champion 4-6 7-5 6-4 in blustery conditions on Centre Court.
Paszek, the world no59, admitted:
I had to try to keep moving and keep focused because it was very, very tough conditions out there.
“It was very, very tough, I just had to try to keep moving, keep my focus. I was actually pretty calm. But I felt my hands were freezing cold all through the match.
“I wasn’t frustrated with the way it is, the weather was that way. You cannot change Mother Nature, so for that reason I just tried to keep focus on every point.
“It feels amazing to be in the final, and I love Eastbourne – it feels like home coming back every year.”
Paszek will play in her first WTA final this term, and in her maiden Eastbourne title decider.
She faces rising German star Angelique Kerber who thrashed Czech Republic’s Klara Zakapolova 6-0 6-3 in an hour.
Beaten Bartoli, who needed her thigh strapped when trailed 3-2 in the final set, fumed:
It was a nightmare to play in those conditions! I got chances in every single game and ended up losing them.
“My leg got pretty tight and then tired, but I think in two or three days it will be back to normal.
“In these conditions, even if I was leading, I never felt comfortable. I didn’t make one ace today, where yesterday I served 10 or 12. It’s really levelling when you have those kind of conditions.
“But I really tried my hardest, and there is not much I could have done better or try harder. On the other hand Tamira played really well, she deserved to win.”
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.
Following a rain break at Devonshire Park, and despite glorious blue skies and a swift finish to the WTA Tour contest when Angelique Kerber sweep aside ex-Eastbourne winner Ekaterina Makarova on Centre Court, an announcement was made.
Subject to confirmation, and obviously the weather, the men’s quarter-finals and semi-finals will be contested tomorrow.
It would very interesting to get the views on this from Andy Roddick as the American ace is the current representative (and voice) for the ATP Tour players.
Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
With a new mini-Wimbledon tournament set for Halle in Germany as from 2014, Eastbourne’s annual event could be under threat.
However, that all depends on when the planned grass court tournament in Germany takes place.
Ralf Weber, the current Halle tournament director, has gone on record that he aims to introduce a WTA Tour competition to the current annual ATP Tour event.
Mr Weber explained that he wants to host a combined event as from 2014, although he admits that the facility must be expanded – and possibility dates altered.
Eastbourne’s annual tournament is sponsored by AEGON until 2013, so it is no coincidence that Mr Weber has set his plans for 2014 to corner the market for a high profile Wimbledon warm-up event.
Stacey Allaster, the WTA Tour chief, admits that Mr Weber’s representatives have been involved in talks about a combined grass court tournament in Halle.
The ATP (Tour) already has a tournament there and we have had very productive discussions – we hope that it works.