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.
- Podgorica, Montenegro
- Monte Carlo, Monaco
- 6′ 5″ (1.90 m)
- 198 lbs (90 kg)
- Turned Pro
The giant Canadian is arguably one of the most exciting prospects on the ATP World Tour with his thundering serve.
Having moved from Montenegro to Canada aged three, he perfected his game as child with a ball machine. This practice paid dividends as Raonic became just the third Canadian man in the Open Era to reach the 4th Round of a Grand Slam by excelling at the 2012 Australian Open..
He made it an incredible hat-trick of San Jose titles on the bounce in February 2013 to become the first player for almost 50 years to achieve such an impressive feat.
His style of play suit fast courts, where he relies on his height and reach to thunder down serves and put away overhead smashes.
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)
- Bolzano, Italy
- Caldaro, Italy
- 6’3″ (190 cm)
- 165 lbs (75 kg)
- Turned Pro
Andreas Seppi was born on the 21st of February, 1985 in Bolzano, Italy.
He has been competing in the Davis Cup for his country since his debut against Georgia in 2004. The following year he reached the Top 100 of the ATP ranking for the first time and ended 2007 in the Top 50, having that year reached his first singles final in Gstaad. On the 7th of June he achieved his best position in the rankings to date (27th).
Last year he won his first, and so far only, ATP title on the grass courts at Eastbourne, beating Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia in the final.
His best Grand Slam result is reaching the third round, a feat he has achieved three times: twice at Wimbledon and once at the US Open. He has had success in Masters 1000 tournaments as well, reaching the semi-finals at Hamburg in the last edition of this tournament in that category.
In doubles, he has reached five finals, all of which with different partnerships, all of which ending in defeat.
2012 AEGON International
<< Men’s post Final: Andy Roddick’s winning speech
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Andy Roddick, the world no33, wrestled the AEGON International title off in-form Andreas Seppi with a comprehensive 6-3 6-2 triumph in 72 minutes.
The Centre Court crowd were disappointed that the ATP Tour final failed to produce the drama and fireworks of the preceding WTA Tour when eight match points were required to decide a champion.
American ace Roddick, who arrived at Eastbourne in the worst form of his career with six defeats on the bounce, has reversed his fortunes by dismantling all those before him this week at Devonshire Park – including the hapless Italian in the final.
And no6 seed Roddick reached the final courtesy of two retirements against him, and dropped just one set en route to capturing the crown – his fifth grass court title – culminating in a one-man show to bring down the curtain on no3 Seppi and his reign as 2011 Eastbourne champion.
The last-minute wildcard won over half of his return points, which resulted in Seppi being broken five times. And the American clinched the title on his first point to claim his 31st career title.
Roddick now joins Swiss star Roger Federer as the only two current ATP Tour stars to have won at least one title each season for the past 12 years.
Former world no1 Roddick beamed:
I started off not serving great and then made an adjustment. I think I served 90 percent in the second set, which is pretty strong number.
“I feel really good because I went from a six match losing streak to all of a sudden winning a tournament – it is a 180-degree turnaround.
“I am so thankful that it went my way this week. My returns this week were close to as well as I have returned – I’ll just have to try to maintain this form going into next week’s Wimbledon.
“I really wanted to keep alive winning one tournament a year for 12 years, I know three or four people have done that.
“I need to remind myself of those numbers just to remember this is a what did you do last week type sport? So looking back on that, maybe I need to look at those a little bit more and realise that I’ve done this for a long time pretty well.
“It’s everything I could have asked for. I feel like I can come here and get my work in. The facility and the courts have been great and the community really seems to support this event.
”You’re not dealing with the hustle and bustle of a massive city. I think before a major, that’s nice – a really positive week.
”The thing that makes sports great is there is no script. You can draw it up, and it rarely works out the way this week has.”
2012 Final Preview by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
On the ball: Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick, a last-gasp wildcard entry, is set to claim his first ATP Tour grass title since winning at Queen’s Club in 2007.
The 29-year-old has this term been hampered by a hamstring injury and then a loss of form – he arrived at Eastbourne with six successive defeats.
The American ace, seeded at next week’s Wimbledon although was world no33 when the seeds were announced, has lost 20 career finals. And he has lived up to SW19′s confidence in their three-time runner-up, who has been demonic at Devonshire Park and dropped just one set in the tournament as the no6 seed.
But defending champion Andreas Seppi, who had an opening round bye, has an even more impressive record this week as he has not dropped a set this week.
Seppi has stormed to his fourth ATP Tour final and is brimming with confidence to retain the Eastbourne crown and add to Belgrade title picked up last month.
The 28-year-old, since collecting his maiden title last season at Devonshire Park has been on a terrific run – and this is his best season so far.
The Italian ace took world no1 Novak Djokovic to five sets at the 2012 French Open to climb to a career high world ranking of no24.
The only time these players have met was at the 2008 US Open final, when Roddick saw off Seppi 6-2 7-5 7-6.
If Roddick can prise the crown off Seppi then he will match Swiss maestro Roger Federer on the ATP Tour with his title streak to 12 years on the bounce – the best among current players on the circuit.
Friday 2012 Round-Up by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Final countdown: Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick squares off against reigning champion Andreas Seppi in the Eastbourne final, having only been served one difficult match on his Devonshire Park debut.
The world no33 collected much-needed grass court practice to capture his 600th ATP Tour victory courtesy of back-to-back wins.
With rain delaying the quarter-finals by a day, the eight competitors had their work cut out – especially with the blustery weather conditions – as the semi-finals needed to also be played.
Italian Seppi was first to step onto the stage and began delivering a perfect act when leading 7-5, 2-1, only for German Philipp Kohlschreiber to be forced to retire because of an ankle injury.
Seppi next opponent was 20-year-old American Ryan Harrison, was held off Denis Istomin in the opening tiebreak 7-5 to register a slender 7-6 6-4 triumph.
But despite his youthfulness Harrison was outplayed by wily Seppi, the contest completed in 75 minutes with Seppi soaring through to his second Eastbourne final on the bounce with a comfortable 7-5 6-1 success.
Roddick squeezed through to the semi-final stafe with a fiercely fought contest against Fabio Fognini.
The Italian handed the 29-year-old a number of scares before succumbing to the three-time Wimbledon finalist 6-3 3-6 7-5.
Belgian Steve Darcis saw off Australian qualifier Marinko Matosevic courtesy of winning the second set tiebreak 7-4, booking a showdown with Roddick after sealing a 6-2 7-6 triumph.
American ace Roddick appeared untroubled by the windy weather, and marched through the games as though it was a practice match. But Darcis was forced to retire with a back injury when trailing 6-3 3-1.
It was tough out there, some of the toughest conditions to play in. But you know you’re going to have some lucky points.
“I can’t remember much tougher that I’ve played in. That wind out there is frightening. It’s not as much as about tennis today as just getting through it.
“This week has worked out. Regardless of what happens in the final I will go into Wimbledon with some wins behind me and some confidence on a surface I’m very comfortable on – so I got my game back a little this week.”
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.