Hungry Hampton has recipe for success

2013 AEGON International, Agnieszka Radwanska, Klara Zakopalova, Lucie Safarova, News, Players, Sam Stosur, WTA Players
By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
lucie safarova quarter-finalsLucie Safarova missed out on a second WTA Tour semi-final spot on the trot, upset by battling American qualifier Jamie Hampton in three sets on Thursday.
The world no41 bounced back from losing the opening set, when she was slipping and sliding around the No1 Court, but a gutsy display earned her a 3-6 7-6 6-4 success.
Initially the Czech ace’s thunderous forehand with formidable top spin was the real difference between the players, but once gutsy Hampton read her opponent’s tactics then the tide turned in an intriguing clash.
Hampton, who will move into the world’s top 30 next week courtesy of her incredible exploits at Eastbourne, made it back-to-back victories over Safarova after her impressive win at last month’s French Open.

Hungry Hampton had come through three qualifying matches and two main draw rounds with aplomb, having caused a sensation shock to dismiss top seed and world no4 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the 1st Round.

But the 23-year-old Hampton was initially troubled by the high bouncing shots from Safarova that resulted in a set of unforced errors and was staring at defeat going into the second set tiebreak.

Hampton confidently took the game to the Czech, storming to a 7-1 tiebreak success and maintained the momentum going into the final set.

Hampton said: “Last year’s Wimbledon was my first match on grass, and everyone told me that I would have a ton of fun on grass – it turns out everyone was right!”

Safarova arrived at Eastbourne in tip-top form, having carved her way to the Nurnberg semi-final but suffering a shock reversal to Romanian Simona Halep.

She had impressed on grass, following up her win over compatriot Klara Zakopalova to then upset Australian wildcard Sam Stosur, only to fail to fend off the challenge of Hampton in her fifth shot at an Eastbourne title.

Whether history will repeat itself at Devonshire Park with a qualifier being crowned the ladies champion for a second season on the trot remains a question that only Hampton can answer.

Radwanska flops to hard hitter Hampton

2013 AEGON International, Agnieszka Radwanska, News, Players, WTA Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

jamie hampton eb 2013Jamie Hampton continued the tradition of causing upsets at Eastbourne’s pre-Wimbledon tournament by inflicting a shock straight sets defeat over top seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

The American qualifier was in staggering fine form to net a 7-6 6-2 1st Round success over ex-Devonshire Park winner Radwanska on Tuesday.

Hard hitter Hampton, who had tasted defeat in all four WTA Tour encounters against the world no4, turned the tables on 2012 Wimbledon runner-up Radwanska.

Poland’s no1 was slow to get her game into gear but clawed back to 5-5 when Hampton was serving for the opening set. Radwanska fluffed her only set point at 6-5 and in the resultant tense tiebreak appeared jittery to fail miserably 7-2.

The 23-year-old then overwhelmed Radwanska throughout a one-sided second set to wrap up an incredible victory – her fourth in as many days at the seaside resort’s grass court event.

And there may be no stopping Hampton, who can take inspiration after Austria’s Tamira Paszek claimed the AEGON International by scything her way through seven matches – including qualifying.

German-born Hampton admitted: “I was a little rattled against her because the last time we played something similar happened with me speeding ahead.

“So I was thinking ‘I’m not going to crack. I’m going to hold on and get to a tiebreak.’ It worked out today for me!”

Radwanska’s game may lack raw power but her intelligent play on court has paid dividends with two titles this season and an incredible win-loss record of 28-9 going into Wimbledon.

Radwanska said: “I was a little bit scared to move even though it wasn’t slippery. Playing her in the first match on the grass was tough, and the fact that she played three matches before helped her a little bit.”

Six appeal for Wimbledon ladies

Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Elena Vesnina, Li Na, Maria Kirilenko, News, Petra Kvitova, Players

aegon international 2013Six of the top 10 seeds for 2013 Wimbledon are competing at Eastbourne in a warm-up for the coveted Grand Slam event.

Former Devonshire champion Agnieszka Radwanska is the highest of the seeds (no4) playing at Devonshire Park, Li Na (no6), Angelique Kerber (no7), ex-Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova (no8), former AEGON International titleholder Caroline Wozniacki (no9) and Maria Kirilenko (no10) make up six of the best.

And there are 10 other players at Eastbourne who have also been seeded, including Serbian Ana Ivanovic who made a brief appearance at the 2013 AEGON International after being stunned in three sets by Russian Elena Vesnina.

2013 Wimbledon seeds for Ladies Singles draw:

  1. Serena WILLIAMS
  2. Victoria AZARENKA
  3. Maria SHARAPOVA
  4. Agnieszka RADWANSKA
  5. Sara ERRANI
  6. LI Na
  7. Angelique KERBER
  8. Petra KVITOVA
  9. Caroline WOZNIACKI
  10. Maria KIRILENKO
  11. Roberta VINCI
  12. Ana IVANOVIC
  13. Nadia PETROVA
  14. Sam STOSUR
  15. Marion BARTOLI
  16. Jelena JANKOVIC
  17. Sloane STEPHENS
  18. Dominika CIBULKOVA
  20. Kirsten FLIPKENS
  21. Anastasia PAVLYUCHENKOVA
  22. Sorana CIRSTEA
  23. Sabine LISICKI
  24. PENG Shuai
  25. Ekaterina MAKAROVA
  26. Svetlana KUZNETSOVA
  27. Varvara LEPCHENKO
  28. Lucie SAFAROVA
  29. Tamira PASZEK
  30. Alize CORNET
  31. Mona BARTHEL
  32. Romina OPRANDI

Errani withdrawal promotes Stosur

2013 AEGON International, Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, EXCLUSIVE, Li Na, Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, Petra Kvitova, Players, Sam Stosur, Sara Errani, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Tamira Paszek, Yaroslava Shvedova

Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Sam Stosur Sam Stosur has been elevated to the no8 seeding as Italian Sara Errani withdrew from Eastbourne on Thursday afternoon.

Errani, who reached the semi-finals at the French Open but only picked up a single game against eventual champion Serena Williams, is suffering from a foot strain and an abductor strain.

The Aussie ace, who only opted for late wildcards at the grass court tournaments in Birmingham and Eastbourne instead of practice.

Her trademark kick serve is exposed to daze and confuse opponents, with the rest of the seeded players probably breathing a sigh of relief that they won’t have to face her in the opening round.

And with an incredible line-up for this year’s pre-Wimbledon tournament at Eastbourne, it is probably the best place to watch grass court tennis outside of The Championships at SW19.

Six former champions – Agnieszka Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki, Marion Bartoli, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Tamira Paszek and Ekatrina Makarova – face stiff competition from the world’s leading ladies.

German Anglique Kerber, who let five match points slip in last year’s final, will be amongst the favourites to be crowned 2013 AEGON International champion.

Petra Kvitova, the Czech Republic’s 2011 Wimbledon winner, has the ability to go all the way on grass whereas top 10 ace Chinese no1 Li Na does not have the style of game particularly suited to grass.

However, grass court experts Stosur and Serbian star Ana Ivanovic will be relishing the opportunity of competing against the top players ahead of Wimbledon, although neither are likely to lift the crown on 22 June 2013.

There are an intriguing trio of Russians also in with a chance of making the final. Maria Kirilenko will be joined by relative veteran Nadia Petrova on their respective hunt for glory.

Players to watch, but who won’t be crowned 2013 Eastbourne champion, include British youngsters Laura Robson and Heather Watson.

America’s rising star Sloane Stephens and Kazakhstani’s Yaroslava Shvedova have withdrawn from the event.

Seeds are:

  1. Agnieszka RADWANSKA
  2. LI Na
  3. Angelique KERBER
  4. Petra KVITOVA
  5. Caroline WOZNIACKI
  6. Maria KIRILENKO
  8. Sam STOSUR

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
  8. Nadia PETROVA

Li adds six appeal

Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Li Na, News, Petra Kvitova, Sara Errani

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Li Na, the formLi Na 2013er French Open champion, has been granted a wildcard entry into the 2013 AEGON International following her surprise exit at the French Open – as exclusively revealed by

The 31-year-old Chinese no1, who upset the Chinese media with her abruptness after a poor showing at Roland Garros, is one of six stars from the WTA Tour’s world top 10 to compete at Devonshire Park.

Li joins the ex-Eastbourne champions Agnieszka Radwanska an d troubled Caroline Wozniacki in the draw alongside other top 10 aces Sara Errani, former Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova and last year’s runner-up Angelique Kerber.

Li said: “It’s great preparation for Wimbledon at Eastbourne because the grass courts are immaculate.

“I’m delighted to be heading back, I was last there two years ago.”

Top 10 hit in sight for Ivanovic

Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, News, Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Ana-and-Nigel-SearsJune2012Ana Ivanovic will be aiming to get revenge over former Eastbourne champion Agniezka Radwanska at Devonshire Park if they meet in the 2013 AEGON International.

The Serbian star, a previous winner of the French Open that propelled her briefly to world no1 status, was surprisingly outwitted and outplayed by the Polish ace to fall 6-2 6-4 at Roland Garros. She had only dropped one set in the opening three rounds, but the 4th Round was a step too far.

World no14 Ivanovic, under the guidance of British coach Nigel Sears, explained:

“I actually think we were closer than maybe the score indicates, it was maybe my serve that let me down.

“If you lose your serve against her then you have to win points over and over again. There’s a point where it gets frustrating and you have to stick with it – at some moments I didn’t, which made a big difference today.

“But I’m definitely a more complete player than when I won the French in 2008. At the time I had probably more confidence at a higher level.

“That is something that I put myself in a position to play against these top players. I just have to break that through because I really want to make that step forward again to be in the top 10.”

Yet since claiming her Grand Slam crown in Paris, Ivanovic has struggled both on and off the court. And after she became single last year admitted that one day she would like to settle down and start a family.

Ivanovic has never got further than the 4th Round at Roland Garros since she was crowned champion, and the Serbian star has just one Grand Sam quarter-final berth (2012 US Open) in the past five years.

She has been ever improving since Sears tutored her, and her resilience is paying off. A top 10 hit once more is within her grasp, but whether she’s make it this year depends on her grass court performances in England at Birmingham, Eastbourne and then Wimbledon.

2013 entrants – exclusive

Agnieszk Radwanska
Squat a winner: Agnieszka Radwanska

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

Agnieszka Radwanska

2013 AEGON International, Agnieszka Radwanska
Radwanska, Agnieszka Radwanska, Agnieszka 
Krakow, Poland
Krakow, Poland
5′ 8″ (1.72 m)
123 lbs. (56 kg)
Turned Pro

Agnieszka Radwanska is a promising young talent on the WTA Tour and already has seven WTA singles titles – including the Aegon International at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park.

She made her WTA tournament debut in 2006 in her native Poland, and was among the top 100 ranked players by the end of the season.

In 2007 she claimed her first title – in Stockholm – and became the first Polish champion at that event. She finished the 2008 season ranked in the top 10 after winning three more trophies.

However, Grand Slam success has eluded her, not being able to progress any further than the quarter-final stage –  in the Australian Open (three times) or Wimbledon (twice).

Her greatest achievement to date was reaching the final of the 2011 China Open, where she lost to German Andrea Petkovic.

Tuesday’s shock treatment

Agnieszka Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, Petra Kvitova, WTA Players

By Roger Hudson

AEGON InternationalI’ve formulated an ambitious plan for Tuesday at the 2012 AEGON International, I’m going to try to watch at least some of the matches played by the top three seeds in the WTA draw – Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova and Caroline Wozniacki. In the end, I watch as all three are dismissed by lower-ranked opponents.

Kvitova, the defending Wimbledon champion, opened the day’s play on Centre Court against Ekaterina Makarova – a former Eastbourne champion who has beaten seven Top 20 players on these courts over the years.

Kvitova started beautifully to serve for the set at 5-4, but her early fluidity and confidence disappears, and her forehand leaks errors to be broken back. A couple of games later the Czech Republic puts a down-the-line backhand long to lose the opening set 7-5.

Having been played into the match by her opponent’s many errors, Makarova is quick to seize her opportunity. Pressed hard on serve early in the second set, the Russian unerringly targets Kvitova’s forehand whenever she is break-point down, eliciting errors. Kvitova looks increasingly miserable and is broken in short order.

While she finds a flurry of those magnificent winners to break back as Makarova serves for the match, a double fault and poor backhand in Kvitova’s next service game open the door again.

After scampering in to wrong foot Kvitova and a strong return, Makarova eventually wins 7-5 6-4, sending the Wimbledon champion off to SW19 a little earlier than expected.

Over on Court 1 Radwanska fell to Tsvetana Pironkova. Russian star Pironkova had never progressed beyond the 2nd Round here in six attempts, which is surprising as she’s beaten Venus Williams twice at Wimbledon (to reach the quarter-finals in 2011 and the semi-finals in 2010).

The dainty-looking Pironkova has always struggled with slicing her forehand rather than hitting through it. But she had no problems using that side to dictate play today.

As I arrived Radwanska was serving at 2-3 in the first set, as the Bulgarian ran her from side to side. The world no3 is generally considered a crafty player with a bulging bag of tricks, but it was Pironkova who took the initiative by throwing in a short slice and volleying behind it to take the first break of serve.

Two games later Pironkova struck a clean forehand winner for a set point, then a return winner down the line to take the opening set 6-2.

After a brief resurgence in the second set, Radwanska’s poor serving lets Pironkova – who won 6-2 6-4 – dominate the rallies and break back immediately for 2-2.

But I can’t stay because over on Centre Court there’s another upset brewing as Wozniacki has lost the first set to Christina McHale 6-1.

Joining the match at the beginning of the second set I can see how McHale, who already had one win over Wozniacki, managed to dominate the first set so conclusively.

The two are similar in so far that both are more conspicuous for a tireless work ethic and competitive spirit than a particular big shot.

But McHale today did one thing that Wozniacki can’t, or won’t, do – taking the ball early on her forehand, flattening it out, driving the ball deep, and going for winners.

The American is also consistently attacking down the lines, something Wozniacki does reluctantly, if at all.

Watching how a similar player has improved her forehand and aggressive instincts underlines the lack of similar improvement in Wozniacki’s game since she reached world no1. But the Dane is still a top player, and she plays a delightfully cagey rally to break and lead 3-2.

There was a noticeable change in Wozniacki’s service stance today, placing her right foot further behind her to widen her stance and obliquely change the angle at which she stands to the baseline.

McHale was quick to pick up on the change, landing deep forehand returns to break back for 5-4, but also making more unforced errors. It’s one too many, a backhand wide, that loses her the second set 9-7 on a tiebreak.

One thing that McHale did magnificently was to stick to her guns.

Breaking early in the third to lead 2-1, the American continued to go for her shots, even when a poor game leads to Wozniacki recovering the break.

At 4-4 McHale dragged Wozniacki into the net and passes her, then plays another punishing rally and puts the ball too low for the Dane to handle to earn three break points. McHale breaks, but it’s a struggle to serve out the match, as Wozniacki finally hits out on her forehand whenever she is down match point.

On McHale’s fourth match point, earned with a pair of blinding winners, she crosses the finish line to win 6-1 6-7 6-4 for the third big upset of the day.