2012 AEGON International
Marion Bartoli won 6-4 6-2 v Lucie Safarova
Klara Zakopalova won 6-3 7-5 v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Angelique Kerber won 6-2 6-4 v Ekaterina Makarova
Tsvetana Pironkova lost 0-6 4-6 v Tamira Paszek
Marion Bartoli won 6-4 6-2 v Lucie Safarova
Klara Zakopalova won 6-3 7-5 v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Angelique Kerber won 6-2 6-4 v Ekaterina Makarova
Tsvetana Pironkova lost 0-6 4-6 v Tamira Paszek
The Czech Republic always had the upper hand against Pavlyuchenkova, running away with the opening set 6-3.
But she seemed to have a ‘blonde moment’ with a torrid start to the second half and trailing 5-2.
With the rain clouds hovering over Devonshire Park, Zakopalova calmed her nerves to play a more aggressive game and up the tempo.
But rain interrupted the match, after Pavlyuchenkova’s sixth double fault had given Zakapalova a break point – which she converted to lead a set and 6-5.
Following the rain break, the pair came back for three minutes as Zakapaolov closed out to triumph.
The spectators at Court 1 had been treated to an intriguing battle as well as spectacular shots, with Zakopalova capturing five games on the bounce to book her berth in the last four – and ultimately a shot at winning the title.
Heather Watson lost 6-7 1-6 to Lucie Safarova
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova won 7-5 3-6 6-4 v Christina McHale
Angelique Kerber won 6-3 6-2 v Chanelle Scheepers
Laura Robson lost 4-6 5-7 to Ekaterina Makarova
Tsvetana Pironkova won 6-0 4-6 6-4 v Stephanie Dubois
Marion Bartoli won 6-2 6-2 v Aleksandra Wozniak
Tamira Paszek won 6-4 3-6 6-1 v Daniela Hantuchova
Petra Cetkovska lost 1-6 6-1 2-6 to Klara Zakopalova
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova edged past resilient US ace Christina McHale in three fiercely fought sets.
The Devonshire Park were treated to high quality play, Russian star Pavlyuchenkova wrapping up a 7-5 3-6 6-4 triumph over yesterday’s conqueror of former world no1 Caroline Wozniacki.
Jie Zheng lost to 3-6 6-4 3-6 Klara Zakopalova
Ekaterina Makarova won 7-5 6-4 v Petra Kvitova
Angelique Kerber won 3-6 6-0 7-5 v Elena Vesnina
Agnieszka Radwanska lost 2-6 4-6 to Tsvetana Pironkova
Su-Wei Hsieh lost 2-6 0-3 to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Christina McHale won 6-1 6-7 6-4 v Caroline Wozniacki
Laura Robson won 3-6 6-2 6-2 v Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez
Timea Babos lost 6-3 3-6 6-7 to Lucie Safarova
Petra Cetkovska won 3-6 6-2 6-1 v Andrea Hlavackova
Marion Bartoli won 6-2 6-2 v Sorana Cirstea
Greta Arn lost 3-6 4-6 to Heather Watson
Stephanie Dubois won 6-4 6-4 v Carla Suarez Navarro
Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Provisional players for Eastbourne, not all in the main draw, are:
By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
2011 AEGON International at Eastbourne
Comeback queen Venus Williams battled long and hard to overcome Tsevetana Pironkova after a stuttering start. The American superstar was slow off the blocks and fell behind 5-0 and then 6-1 -much to the delight of the Centre Court crowd and on-watching sister Serena.
French Open champion Li Na has a close encounter with Tamira Paszek but saw off the Austrian 7-5 6-4.
Li was in far than perfect condition following her Roland Garros heroics and found the qualifier difficult to predict on grass with the low bounce.
Paszek, previously been coached by Larri Passos who helped Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten reach world no1, is a rising star and has a game that suits grass – reflected by last year’s run to second round at Wimbledon as a qualifier and reaching the last 16 at 2007 Wimbledon.
Li (pictured) only needed one break of serve to take the opening set, and with that advantage drummed up some formidable power shots to see off her plucky 20-year-old opponent – the Austrian no3 who last year broke into the world’s top 100 and is en route to a top 50 slot if her Eastbourne performances are any indication of her potential.
Slovak star Daniela Hantuchova continued her rich vein of grass court form to end the hopes of Zheng Jie 6-4 6-4.
Monaco-based Hantuchova, who shot to world no5 in 2003, used her guile and experience to try and outwit the pretty Chinese ace, in a match of tactics. Hantuchova’s one break of serve earned the opening set and the doubles expert – who is one of only five women to have won doubles titles at all four Grand Slams – started to take control of the net.
Zheng, in no mood to surrender, whistled clean winners from the back of the court and seemed to be in with a shot during a tight second set. But Hantuchova, following on from last week’s runner-up spot at Birmingham, brought out some killer shots to shoot down the impressive Zheng.
Top seed Vera Zvonareva sealed a second round match up against Serena Williams – a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon final – with a comfortable 6-3 6-3 triumph over new British no2 Heather Watson.
The Russian ace, whose early Roland Garros exit ended her hopes of arriving at SW19 as world no1, had few problems in defeating the Guernsey teenager on Court no1.
Zvonareva was rapid around the court and stayed rooted to the baseline as she patiently waited to attack any weakness with her flat and powerful groundstrokes. Watson was troubled by her opponent’s flat shots and struggled to cope with such little topspin, bowing out bravely in straight sets.
No5 seed and recent French Open semi-finalist Marion Baroli fought back from the jaws of defeat to triumph in three nail-biting sets over Lucie Safarova, winning the decisive tiebreak 9-7.
The French ace had few problems with her Czech mate and soon wrapped up the first set 6-3. But left-hander Safarova piled on the pressure and took a few risks to seal the set 6-3 and turn the final set into a thriller.
Bartoli’s unorthodox shone at times but also fell apart on a number of vital points to keep her on her toes. Trailing 5-4 and receiving serve Bartoli looked likely to be making a hasty exit but then broke and nervously held her serve.
Safarova made no mistake this time to force a tie-break that became a cat-and-mouse affair, Bartoli rewarded for her adventurous choice of groundstrokes to edge into the second round.
2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone breezed past Kaia Kanepi 7-6 6-1 to set up a second round tie against ex-Eastbourne winner Agnieszka Rawanska.
The London-based Italian was made to work hard for her victory by Estonian no1 Kanepi, and the first set went to a tense tie-break that Schiavone won 9-7.
The Italian stepped up a gear with the lead to her advantage, showing improved groundstrokes and footwork – not easy to do after recently storming to the final at Roland Garros – to take the game to grass court expert Kanepi and register success with a formidable display in the second set to run away an easy victor.
Shock 2010 Eastbourne champion Ekaterina Makarova stuttered past leggy blonde Mirjana Lucic 6-1 3-6 6-4 to earn her 10th win on grass in the past year.
The Russian, who surprisingly lost in her opening round at Birmingham last week despite a run to the French Open quarter-finals, outplayed and outwitted the qualifier in the opening set but the second set saw the Croatian turn the tables with an array of groundstrokes and solid volleying to force a third set before bowing out graciously.
Makarova was the last direct entrant at this year’s Eastbourne event and contemplated not defending her crown that she so majestically won in 2010.
Ana Ivanovic won the ‘Battle of the Babes’ against German ace Julia Goerges with a hard-fought 6-4 6-3 success.
The Centre Crowd crowd were treated to tennis of the highest calibre at times, with coach-less Ivanovic seemingly back to her very best by displaying a much more consistent game plan and hitting very aggressive groundstrokes.
Ivanovic, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist, was slow out of the starting blocks and lost her serve in the opening game only to break back and boss Goerges around the court with a string of stinging drives.
Goerges is formidable on clay but failed to ignite on grass, reflected by just one singles victory at Wimbledon in three years. Ivanovic seems rejuvenated and is a serious contender here.
British no1 Elena Baltacha shocked short French powerhouse Aravane Rezai (pictured) with an impressive 6-2 6-1 triumph.
Baltacha, who triumphed at last week’s Nottingham grass court tournament on the Challenger circuit, was in cruise control during a lop-sided opening set.
But the 2010 Eastbourne quarter-finalist was in no mood to relinquish her WTA Tour points earned at Devonshire Park last year and thumped Rezai, who only broke into the world’s top 20 last year.
Serbian qualifier Bojana Jovanoski caused a sensational 7-6 6-4 upset over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to earn a second round shot against Australian Sam Stosur.
Jovanoski joined compatriot Ana Ivanovic safely through with an equally impressive grass court performance after winning the ‘Battle of the Youngsters’.
Neither player would give an inch in the opening set, not even in the marathon tie-break, that Jovanoski snatched 11-9. The Russian pulled out all of the stops to try and halt the talented Jovanoski who seemed relish the chance to play on grass, all to no avail. Pavlyuchenkova finished last year as youngest player in the world’s top 50 while Jovanoski was the youngest in the top 100.
Serena Williams overpowered Tsvetana Pironkova in the opening round, much to the delight of the Centre Court crowd and on-watching sister Venus.
The wildcard made an stuttering competitive comeback, having not played on the WTA Tour since winning 2010 Wimbledon, and gained some revenge over the slim and sultry Bulgarian for beating Venus at SW19 last year.
The delicate 5’11″ Bulgarian is certainly no slouch on grass, having reeled off a string of fantastic results to reach last year’s Wimbledon semi-finals – her best run on the WTA Tour – and she tested Williams to the hilt in the early stages.
Williams looked lost on grass and her usual risk game plan failed to pay dividends, with unforced errors leaving her staring a swift exit in the face at 5-0 down in the first set. Although she then held her serve was unable to fight back and fell a set behind in what was arguably her worst ever grass court performance.
However, the comeback queen was not yet dead and buried so rallied herself back into the tie by playing a more consistent – and cautious – game against her talented opponent. She steamed into a comfortable 3-0 advantage and soon levelled matters to silence any would-be critics of her in the packed stands.
Fashion entrepreneur Williams turned on the style in the third and decisive set, though did not produce as many unforced errors as she tidied up her usual game plan determined to move into the next round, and served out victory at 6-4. Williams said:
“I love winning – I’m just here to do the best I can and I’m here not to lose!
“I’m just taking everything one day at a time and I’m not putting too much expectations on myself or on my game.”
Williams could face in-form Sam Stosur or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarter-finals and probably Victoria Azarenka or Marion Bartoli in the last four.
Draw’s double trouble | Serena and Venus Williams are dangerously unseeded in a top-quality draw of 32 that has attracted most of the world’s top players.
Wildcard Serena makes her competitive comeback since being crowned 2010 Wimbledon Championship and faces Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova in the opening round, and if victorious plays the winner of top see Vera Zvonareva and British wildcard Heather Watson. Serena could face Sam Stosur or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarter-finals and probably Victoria Azarenka or Marion Bartoli in the last four.
Venus last played in January’s Australian Open and will play no8 seed Andrea Petkovic in the first round, the same player that she retired against at Melbourne.
“We’re not here for results, but we are going to do our best to take home titles. I’m very excited to be back, I love playing – it’s my job”
– Venus Williams
Shine the lights it’s ‘Vogue’ | Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was one of a number of WTA Tour stars to be involved in Saturday’s photo-shoot for the Turkish version of ‘Vogue’ magazine. Pavlyuchenkova turned up for practice at Devonshire Park with her hair still up and in full make-up to hit with glamour girl Julia Goerges. The German ace said: “I’ll play Ana (Ivanovic) in the 1st Round, there are tough draws here at Eastbourne – it’s nice getting straight away into great competition on grass.”
Stosur serves her predictions | Gutsy Australian Sam Stosur, an Eastbourne regular and current world’s no 10, will face Russian Nadia Petrova in the opening round and said: “There’s a handful of people who can do very well and on form I think Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova and Julia Goerges are possibly playing best.”
“I grew up playing on a hardcourt so I’d like think I’ve got a reasonable chance although grass is probably the most difficult for me.
“You’ve got to take it each match at a time and try not think ‘the last few months haven’t been as good as I wanted them to be and this this isn’t going to be a good tournament’.”
Brit special for top pair | Nottingham finalist Elena Baltacha and Heather Watson, the British no1 and no2 respectively, have been handed wildcards – as expected.
The world no74 Baltacha made the 2nd Round of the French Open and has been drawn against French ace Aravan Rezai, Guernsey’s Watson recently cracked the world’s top 100 but faces a stern test as she been handed a draw against top seed Vera Zvonareva.
“I got amazing support at Birmingham, let’s see if Eastbourne can match it”
– Heather Watson
British no3 Anne Keothavong saw off France’s Alize Cornet in the opening round of qualifying 6-4 6-2, but the other four Brits – Naomi Broady, Anna Fitzpatyrick, Kate O’Brien and Emily Webley-Smith were all halted at the first hurdle.
Ivanovic hits great form | Serbian star Ana Ivanovic warmed-up for Eastbourne in style at Birmingham, reeling off her first three matches in under three hours to march into a semi-final showdown with fellow Eastbourne entrant Daniela Hantuchova.
The former world no1 was having a resurge following her French Open exit, despite seeking a new coach after she stopped working with Heinz Gunthard, until Hantuchova halted her 6-7 6-3 6-2. Ivanovic, who is currently only travelling with a hitting partner, said:
“Things happen very fast on grass, but it was the first time I have played four matches in a row for a long time.
“I have to find a good coach, someone who will commit and be willing to travel, and someone with whom to get along because you do seem to spend a lot of time together.”
Kleybanova K’O’d | Russian ace Alisa Kleybanova, who withdrew from the French Open citing illness, has withdrawn from Eastbourne and the Wimbledon Championships.
Navratilova replaces Novotna | The legendary Martina Navratilova has replaced Jana Novotna in the Legends Exhibition event at Eastbourne between 12-13 June. Navratilova (pictured) triumphed in 11 singles titles at Devonshire Park, and joins Spaniard Conchita Martinez and Swiss Martina Hingis in the event that includes Holland’s Wimbledon winner Richard Kraijeck, French flair master Henri Leconte and former British no1 Greg Rusedski.
King is coming | Two-time Grand Slam Doubles champion Vania King (pictured) will make her Eastbourne debut after Russian Alisa Kleybanova withdrew from the tournament and Wimbledon.
The American Fed Cup player, who followed German Julia Goerges into Eastbourne on June 9, joins her high-profile compatriots Serena and Venus Williams in the most competitive tournament ever seen at Devonshire Park but has to go through qualifying.
King said: “I’m looking forward to the challenge, but Eastbourne’s cold and windy. I can’t go out and rely on hitting a serve or a big shot as I’m only 5’5”, so I have to be creative. I can still improve on a lot of things, including my movement, but I look forward to playing.
Kanepi’s warm-up killed | Kaia Kanepi was upstaged by Russian qualifier Arina Rodionova 6-4 6-2 at Birmingham’s AEGON Classic as top seed.
The Estonian world no17 said: “Last year when I played in qualifying it was much easier for me in the main draw, I didn’t move her around and it’s pretty difficult to have a ‘Plan B’ on grass if your game’s not working.”
Serena eager for Eastbourne | Four-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams (pictured) will make her Eastbourne debut as a wildcard. The 13-Grand Slam winner joins her sister Venus in the main draw on their competitive comeback,
Serena said: “Serena’s back! I’m excited to be healthy enough to compete, as these past 12 months have been extremely tough and character-building. I’m thankful to my family, friends and fans for their support and really looking to playing on grass again.”
Serena watched Venus from the sidelines at the 1998 event at Devonshire Park, where Venus won two matches but fell in the third – more distracted my her falling beads onto the grass courts than her opponent.
French Open champs set for Eastbourne | China’s Li Na, crowned as Asia’s first ever Grand Slam singles champion at Roland Garros, is likely to skip Birmingham and concentrate on warming up for Wimbledon by competing at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park.
The classic French Open never materialised as powerhouse Li staved off a set point to beat defending French Open winner Francesca Schiavone, an Eastbourne regular, 6-4 7-6. Li is set to move up to world no4 and is the probable top seed for the 2011 AEGON International.
All that glistens is not gold | Many local residents are fuming with the LTA over their latest tennis posters and flyers that airbrushes all the stones from its beach and replaces them with golden sands.
Eastbourne councillor David Elkin explained: “The shingle is an iconic part of Eastbourne.” And an LTA spokesman admitted: “We wanted to create a buzz and it appears that we’ve done so.”
Our team at EastbourneTennis.com have had to answer emails and texts asking whether the beach (pictured) is now sandy as they would holiday at the seaside resort rather than just turn up for the day.
Sharapova still yet to make debut | Russian beauty Maria Sharapova sensationally withdrew from the AEGON Classic at Edgbaston’s Priory Club, her usual haunt as a Wimbledon warm-up, with an illness sustained during her semi-final defeat at the French Open. Although the ex-Wimbledon champion has never played at Eastbourne, it was hoped that she may opt for a wildcard entry for Devonshire Park this year.
Venus’ star turn | Venus Williams will compete at Eastbourne for the first time since 1998. The 30-year-old (right) usually returns to her Florida base to prepare for Wimbledon after Roland Garros. But the five-time Wimbledon champion hasn’t played on the WTA Tour since the 2011 Australian Open, where she retired because of a hip injury in the third round.
She has signed up with her sister Serena to play in July’s World Team Tennis League in America, a nine-game event devised by ex-professional Billie Jean-King straight after playing Wimbledon.
Stosur sets goal | Sam Stosur, the 2010 French Open finalist, returns to Devonshire Park having reached the 2010 AEGON International semi-finals. The Australian fell to eventual shock champion Russian Ekaterina Makarova.
Stosur, a favourite at Eastbourne, said: I’m so excited to be returning to Eastbourne and I’m hopeful of going even further this year at Devonshire Park. Andrea Petkovic’s ranking ascension shows no signs of slowing down, as a month after she rose to a career-high No.15, she went up three more spots following her victory in Strasbourg.
Petrovic on the rise | Andreas Petrovic, who cracked the world’s top 25 at the start of this season, is edging ever closer to becoming the first German on the WTA Tour to become a top 10 hit since compatriot Anke Huber in October 2000.
Hingis returns | Former professional Martina Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam champion and a doubles winner at Eastbourne, is set to play in The Legends exhibition event at Devonshire Park on 12-13 June.
The ‘Swiss Miss’ will play in the singles on the opening Sunday and with Boris Becker in the mixed doubles on the Monday.
Hingis said: “I’ve got fond memories of the event as I won the 1999 doubles event with Anna Kournikova, so it’s a delight to be invited back to Eastbourne.”
Wozniacki skips Eastbourne | Caroline Wozniacki is a surprise not to be playing at Eastbourne 2011, having won so spectacularly in 2009. The great Dane and world no1 lacked her usual bite at Devonshire Park last year and will instead play in the UNICEF Open in the Netherlands.
However, rumours are rife that Wozniacki avoided Devonshire Park this year as she did not want to face her nemesis German ace Julia Goerges before Wimbledon. Wozniacki said: “I can’t wait to play the grass season again.”