By Xavier Harley-Rudd
Kyle Edmund registered his inaugural ATP Tour victory in style on Eastbourne’s Centre Court with a comprehensive 6-4 6-4 win over qualifier Kenny de Schepper of France on Monday.
The British wildcard, who lost in his first ATP circuit main draw match at Queen’s in London last week, only conceded nine points on his serve to leave big server De Schepper shellshocked by the 18-year-old.
Edmund made a mockery of being world no.442 to overturn an opponent ranked 360 places above him and next faces no.2 seed Gilles Simon of France.
But Simon needs to be aware that the Australian-born teenager Edmund likes dealing with the French, following up his Junior French Open Boys Doubles success with a 64-minute success against a tired looking De Schepper.
And Edmund, who has been granted a wildcard for Wimbledon, is going to be a popular figure at Devonshire Park as he has pledged to donating half of his AEGON International his prize money this week to The Royal Marsden hospital in London.
Edmund, who moved to Yorkshire aged three, said: “I’ve trained hard after Queen’s and focusing on returning the ball, it worked out great.
“I’m just happy to get the win after being given a wildcard and this great opportunity to play here in Eastbourne.”
And there was another shock in the 1st Round, Ukraine’s no6 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov faltering 1-6 6-3 6-2 to tricky left hander Fernando Verdasco in 75 minutes.
The Spanish star made a dreadful start, but once he found his feet on grass – a surface that he has an impressive record on, except at SW19 – swept past Dolgopolov, conceding just five points on serve in the last two sets.
There were no such problems for the two Italian seeds, Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini, although they were both pushed to three sets.
Seppi, the 2011 champion and 2012 runner-up at Eastbourne, was slow off the blocks against French qualifier Guiliaume Rufin. But the no7 seed bounced back to record a 3-6 6-3 6-4 1st Round win in 107 minutes.
Fogini, a 2012 AEGON International quarter-finalist, narrowly lost the tiebreak 8-6 in the opening against Grega Zemlja, who defeated Edmund at Queen’s last week. But Fognini turned on the style to reel off the next two sets to see off the Slovenian 6-7 6-2 6-4.
American ace Ryan Harrison made it his fourth win at Devonshire Park in three days after delivering the knockout blow to France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu in a third set tiebreak 7-4.
The industrious 21-year-old qualifier gained revenge over Mathieu for last month’s reversal in Nice to collect his sixth main draw success of the season in just under two hours, winning 6-4 2-6 7-6 courtesy of 11 aces.
But James Blake, Harrison’s compatriot and fellow qualifier, was humbled 6-2 6-4 by Spaniard Albert Ramos.
By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Gilles Simon, who has yet to progress beyond the 4th Round at Wimbledon, is one of the favourites to lift the 2013 AEGON International crown.
But the French ace, whose game is suited to the low bounce on grass, as top seed will no doubt feel the pressure on him at Devonshire Park as he was pushed out of being the top seed on Thursday evening.
Milos Raonic, the world no15, taken over the mantle as no1 seed for the 2013 AEGON International as a late wildcard.
The Canadian was bundled out of the opening round of the grass court Gerry Weber Open in Germany by French ace Gael Monfils, following on from his early French Open exit after being out served by South African Kevin Anderson.
Despite his infamous booming serve, Raonic’s game has recently been going through a bad patch after he parted ways with Spanish coach Galo Blanco last month.
The 22-year-old has turned to Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic, who retired from the ATP Tour last year after 14 seasons, on a trial run and the duo are working together from their respective residence in Monte Carlo.
Raonic said: “We both come from aggressive styles of play, so he understands the mentality I have on court as well as the areas where I can improve.”
The British duo of talented teenager Kyle Edmund and Davis Cup stalwart James Ward have also been given wildcards into the Eastbourne event.
Ward, a 2010 AEGON International quarter-finalist, admitted: “I’m really looking forward to returning to Eastbourne, it’s the perfect opportunity to get in some matches ahead of Wimbledon.”
Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci has become the first withdrawal from the tournament, and previously skipped the Eastbourne event, although was never amongst the players likely to win.
But Phillip Kohlschreiber, who narrowly missed out on being the no1 seed, is the most probable champion with an attacking style of play that is suited to grass and saw the German reach the 2012 Wimbledon quarter-finals.
South African no1 Anderson made a name for himself on grass with an impressive run to the quarter-finals at 2008 Wimbledon – just a year after joining the ATP Tour – and the thundering serves from the 6 foot 8 inch powerful ace are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
That was in 2011, but the tenacious Aussie had an unhappy return to SW19 last season and has courted controversy off the court due to allegations involving his father/coach John.
Tomic was surprisingly defeated in three sets by Italian Fabio Fognini at the 2012 AEGON International, so will be a dangerous floater in the draw.
Another Italian regular to Devonshire Park, former Eastbourne champion Andreas Seppi, has a slim shot of winning the tournament.
Clay court expert Juan Monaco of Argentina, Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov, French ace Julien Benneteau and Czech Republic’s Radek Stepanek will all be vying a slice of glory although it seems that the top three seeds of Raonic, Simon and Kohlschreiber are the overwhelming favourites to taste success.
By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
2013 entrants and seeds
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
Gilles SIMON France
Phillip KOHLSCHREIBER Germany
Juan MONACO Argentina
Kevin ANDERSON South Africa
Alexandr DOLGOPOLOV Ukraine
Andreas SEPPI Italy
Fabio FOGNINI Italy
Julien BENNETEAU France
The entrants confirmed are:
- Gilles SIMON (France)
- Philipp KOHLSCHREIBER (Germany)
- Juan MONACO (Argentina)
- Kevin ANDERSON (South Africa)
- Alexandr DOLGOPOLOV (Ukraine)
- Andreas SEPPI (Italy)
- Fabio FOGNINI (Italy)
- Julien BENNETEAU (France)
- Martin KLIZAN (Slovakia)
- Jarkko NIEMINEN (Finland)
- Viktor TROICKI (Serbia)
- Feliciano LOPEZ (Spain)
- Denis ISTOMIN (Uzbekistan)
- Radek STEPANEK (Czech Republic)
- Ivan DODIG (Croatia)
- Grega ZEMLJA (Slovenia)
- Bernard TOMIC (Australia)
- Fernando VERDASCO (Spain)
- Kiev, Ukraine
- Kiev, Ukraine
- 6′ (183 cm)
- 160 lbs (73 kg)
- Turned Pro
Born in Kiev in the Ukraine on the 11th of July, 1988, Alexandr Dolgopolov started playing tennis when he was barely three and turned professional in 2006, although it would take him until 2010 to make a name for himself in the world of tennis and make his entry into the ATP circuit.
After racking up a total of 21 victories, he jumped more than 80 places to end 2010 in the Top 50.
He won the Challenger tournament in Meknes and got to the third round of the Roland Garros, his best Grand Slam result up to that point.
He got 2011 off to an ideal start, reaching the quarter final of the Australian Open and reaching his first ATP World Tour final in February at Cost do Sauipe.
He won his first title in Umag and notched up some other good results towards the end of the season: as well as getting to the quarter finals in the Shanghai Masters 1000, he won the doubles competition alongside Xavier Malisse at Indian Wells.
He ended 2011 as the world number 15. His results so far this season have further improved his ranking and confirmed him as one of the most promising players on the ATP.