Edmund courts Rusedski as coach

2013 AEGON International, 2014 AEGON International, News

edmundBrits Kyle Edmund and Greg Rusedski, two familiar faces at Devonshire Park last year, are forming the dream team aiming to follow in the footsteps of Olympic champion Andy Murray.

Rusedski is set to become coach of the 19-year-old Yorkshire ace, who claimed his inaugural ATP Tour victory at Eastbourne’s 2013 AEGON International against France’s Kenny De Schepper.

greg-rusedski

Greg Rusedski

Edmund, the world no292, was part of Rusedski’s Junior Davis Cup GB squad and in February was called up to the GB Davis Cup team that shocked the United States.

Rusedski, a former British no1 who played in the Legends Exhibition at the 2013 AEGON International, will take over from LTA coach Colin Beecher.

Edmund aims to emulate both Rusedski and Murray by becoming the British no1, and during the off-season trained with the Wimbledon champion in Miami.

Michael+Downey

LTA chief executive Michael Downey

“This is great and no disrespect to Colin Beecher, who did great work, but change sometimes should happen.

“It reflects that not only did Kyle look for a change but that Greg wanted to step up and take on this challenge. Greg has stepped over the line, and said ‘give me the keys’.”

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Raonic races into pole position

Gilles SIMON, Kevin ANDERSON, Milos RAONIC, Players

 

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

MilosRaonicMilos Raonic, the world no15, has taken over the mantle as top seed for the 2013 AEGON International from Gilles Simon after being granted a wildcard on Thursday evening.

The Canadian was bundled out of the 1st Round of the Gerry Weber Open in Germany by French ace Gael Monfils on Tuesday without putting up much of a fight in a 6-4 6-2 reversal.

Despite his infamous booming serve, Raonic made a string of unforced errors and whimpered to his concede defeat – following on from his early French Open exit after being out served by South African Kevin Anderson.

But 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 competing on the ATP Tour last year after 14 seasons, on a trial run. The pair are working together from Monte Carlo as they both reside in the tax-free haven.

Montenegrian-born Raonic said: “Being coached by Ivan will really offer a new dimension to my game, as his recent experience on Tour is a major plus for my development.

“I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can from him and to continue to grow my game in the best way possible.

“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 Kyle Edmund and James Ward have also been given wildcards into the Eastbourne event.

South African-born Edmund, the world no444, became the youngest British player since Andy Murray to win a Futures event with the Birmingham, Alabama title in American crown in October 2012.

The 18-year-old, given a trio of wildcards by the LTA – for Queen’s, Eastbourne and Wimbledon – last month picked up the Junior French Open Doubles title to add to the 2012 Junior US Open Doubles crown.

Brought up in Yorkshire from the age of three, Edmund said: “This is only my second ATP World Tour event so I’m very excited to be playing against some of the world’s top players at Eastbourne.”

james-wardGreat Britain Davis Cup stalwart Ward came close to breaking into the top 100 last April with a career-high world ranking of no137, and took American ace Mardy Fish to five sets at 2012 Wimbledon before bowing out.

The son of a London taxi driver, Ward’s best results and displays have been on the grass courts in England although he shocked Russian Dimitry Tursunov in April’s Davis Cup tie.

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.”

Provisional eight seeds:

  1. Milos RAONIC (Canada)
  2. Gilles SIMON (France)
  3. Philipp KOHLSCHREIBER (Germany)
  4. Juan MONACO (Argentina)
  5. Kevin ANDERSON (South Africa)
  6. Alexandr DOLGOPOLOV (Ukraine)
  7. Andreas SEPPI (Italy)
  8. Fabio FOGNINI (Italy)

Other provisional entrants:

  1. Julien BENNETEAU (France)
  2. Martin KLIZAN (Slovakia)
  3. Jarkko NIEMINEN (Finland)
  4. Viktor TROICKI (Serbia)
  5. Feliciano LOPEZ (Spain)
  6. Denis ISTOMIN (Uzbekistan)
  7. Radek STEPANEK (Czech Republic)
  8. Ivan DODIG (Croatia)
  9. Grega ZEMLJA (Slovenia)
  10. Bernard TOMIC (Australia)
  11. Fernando VERDASCO (Spain)
  12. James WARD (Great Britain)
  13. Kyle EDMUND (Great Britain)

Fantastique Simon’s fired up

Gilles SIMON, News, Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

gilles simon 2013Gilles Simon, the top seed for the 2013 AEGON International, will be ready to make an impact at Devonshire Park with the delightful seaside town likely to suit his laidback persona both on and off the court.

The in-form French ace is aiming to add another title as he prepares for a shot at finally making an impact at Wimbledon. His playing style and tactics suit fast surfaces, so taking the grass court crown at Eastbourne is certainly a strong possibility.

Often referred to by the French media simply as “fantastique!”, despite briefly cracking the world’s top 10 in 2008, Simon has had to settle for being a top 20 hit rather than one of the Grand Slam potential champions.

Because Simon can’t hit the ball with the same sort of pace as today’s leading players, he takes the power off his opponent’s shots and zaps their energy.

He is a grinder who gets almost every shot back, and the longer the match goes on then the more winners Simon comes up. He has the incredible ability to take the pace off the ball but then powerfully return the shot to try to outfox opponents.

Simon’s ability to anticipate where the ball will be placed increases the pressure on opponents, which forces them out of their comfort zone and begins to give him the upper hand.

Gilles SimonSo grass should suit him as he has a tendency to play low shots without pace, often opting to drive the ball down the middle of the court. These tactics have long worked wonders since he joined the Tour in 2002.

He can make opponents suddenly become vulnerable as they cannot comfortably attack low balls and have no angles to work with from the centre of the court.

Simon explained: “When I play a shot, most of the time I already know where the ball is going to come back to me.

“I try to stay as relaxed as possible, but it’s never easy to find a good balance of being focused and being relaxed at the same time – on the inside, at times, I do feel nervous.

“But my aim, of course, is to win the biggest titles possible. It’s been a long while since I beat one of the top four players – Nadal, Djokovic, Murray or Federer.”

He has defeated two top 10 players already this season, Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro and former Eastbourne runner-up Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia.

But unless Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych opts for a wildcard then Simon won’t have to face another ATP Tour top 10 player during his week in Eastbourne.

Whether Simon, who has never been past the 4th Round at Wimbledon, will be able to add the 2013 Eastbourne crown as his 12th Singles title remains to be seen.

KYLE EDMUND

News, Players

 

Birthplace:
Johannesburg, South Africa
Residence
Beverley, England
Height
6′ 2″ (1.88 m)
Weight
159 lbs. (72 kg)
Plays
Right-handed
Turned Pro
2012

Born in South Africa but raised from the age of three in Beverley, Yorkshire, Edmund has the ability to succeed in both Singles and Doubles and only turned professional last year,

Won the 2013 Junior French Open Doubles crown and the 2012 Junior US Open Doubles title.

At Junior Singles finished was a quarter-finalist at 2012 Australian Open following on from a final four berth at the 2011 US Open.

In April 2012 became a practice partner for the Great British Davis Cup squad and a month later collected his second Futures title by winning at Vero Beach Florida without dropping a set. Became the youngest British player since Andy Murray to win a Futures event, following his triumph at Birmingham, Alabama, USA in October 2012.

Goes into Eastbourne world ranked no444 in only his second ATP Tour main draw tournament, ahead of competing at 2013 Wimbledon as a wildcard.

.

Robson opts to be a Brit special

Caroline Wozniacki, Laura Robson, News, Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Laura RobsonLaura Robson, the former Junior Wimbledon champion when aged 14, has hired Andy Murray’s former coach Miles Maclagan initally for the grass court season.

The 19-year-old, who parted from Croatian coach Zeliko Krajan last month, has a game that suits grass but is desperate to rise through the WTA Tour rankings this year.

She aims to soar through the world rankings if she can gain positive results at the two Wimbledon warm-up tournaments at Birmingham and Eastbourne before tackling SW19.

The world no37 is aware that Maclagan, a ex-Great Britain Davis Cup player, could become a permanent fixture but the grass court events are a trial run.

Maclagan coached fellow Scot Murray to his maiden Grand Slam final, the 2008 US Open in 2008, but the pair parted ways in 2010 following a highly successful 30 month partnership.

Maclagan explained: “Laura clearly has the mind for the big stadiums and to take on the big players. It’s a key ingredient in anyone who’s going to play well.

“To see a young player with a lot of firepower and the ability to take on the top players is exciting. We’re going to start out for a little period over the grass to see how things go.

“There’s a lot I need to learn about the women’s WTA Tour, but Laura isn’t someone that I’ve studied. I have watched her just in passing rather than studied her, so there is a lot about her game that I need to know.

“One thing I have learnt is that what we see from the outside is so often not the case. I’m pretty chilled, but if practice isn’t of a quality or standards aren’t there then I’m not so chilled!”

Robson has had an extremely disappointing season going into the grass court season, with seven 1st Round defeats, including a poor showing against former Eastbourne champion and ex-world no1 Caroline Wozniacki at the 2013 French Open.

Road to 2009 Men’s Final

Denis Istomin, Fabio FOGNINI

eastbournetenniscourts

2009 AEGON International Men’s Final

Preview by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Russian no2 seed Dmitry Tursunov (world no27)
vs.
Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic (world no126)

Frank DancevicFRANK DANCEVIC ||| Canadian, Unseeded 
At 6’1″ Canadian Frank Dancevic may not have been a giant but he has been the giantkiller of the first ever ATP Tour event at Eastbourne and has constantly played on Centre Court.

He managed to pick up the pieces in the main draw after squeezing through the qualifying rounds despite a slight injury that jeopardised his involvement against the top seed on Monday.

Had he not faced such an opportunity as playing someone in the world’s top 30 – and on Centre Court – then Dancevic may well have rested for next week’s Wimbledon. And he played out of his skin to spectacularly see off Russian Igor Andreev, 7-6(6), 6-2. 

Given slightly more trouble to dispatch British wildcard James Ward, who at world no224 was the only player ranked lower than him that he’s faced in the main draw, Dancevic edged through the second round contest 7-6(6), 6-4 in the second round.

He avoided playing a seed in the quarter-finals because France’s Julian Benneteau upset no5 seed Mikhail Youzhny, a quarter-finalist at Queen’s Club the previous week, and Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer beat Benneteau. The encounter against world no70 Mayer proved to be Dancevic’s toughest match en route to the final despite the 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5 result.

“It was a difficult match and I was lucky to hang in there,” said the 24-year-old. “I came into this tournament wanting to get a few matches before Wimbledon and I’m on a pretty good roll. Grass is definitely one of my favourite surfaces and when I play on grass I feel at home.”

In a one-way semi-final Dancevic defeated no4 seed Fabrice ‘The Magician’ Santoro. The French veteran remains a force to be reckoned with, despite playing his final year on the ATP Tour, but Dancevic survived the legendarily tricky shots coming from the other side of the net to progress 6-4, 6-4.

“I played super aggressive today against Fabrice,” admitted serve and volley expert Dancevic. “It was a difficult match because of the way he plays and the wind, but I went out thinking I’m going to go for everything and hit the ball as hard as I can.”

Dancevic has played in one ATP Tour final, beaten by Dmitry Tursunov at 2007 Indianapolis.

Final record || won 0 lost 1

DMITRY TURSUNOVEB2009DMITRY TURSUNOV ||| Russian, Seeded no2
As expected, Dmitry Tursunov has reached the inaugural ATP Tour final at Devonshire Park. The world no27 opened his campaign by struggling against enthusiastic Italian Fabio Fognini 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

The 26-year-old Russian was almost out of the tournament in the second round when he was fully stretched by Alex Bogdanovic in a three set thriller on Centre Court.

Tursunov found himseld trailing 5-3 in the final set tiebreak to the ace British qualifier before grabbing the next four points to seal a nervy 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(5) success.

And Tursunov admitted: “I thought I played well, I played a good tiebreaker,” said Tursunov. “He’s a difficult guy to play, he’s got all the shots. I definitely think he should be ranked much higher than he is but he just needs to put everything together.”

The entertaining Russian’s brush with failure has since seen him in emphatic form. He pulled off victory in a very close quarter-final to oust Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 7-6(6), 6-4, who had seen off no6 seed Sam Querrey.

But Tursunov’s most comprehensive win was surprisingly reserved for his semi-final showdown with Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. The no8 seed seemed to have run of out steam after impressively defeating Russian Evgeny Korolev, Andy Murray’s Olympic conquerer Yen-Hsun Lu, and Serbian grass court expert Janko Tipsarevic.

Although Garcia-Lopez hit a string of winners off that showed more variety in his tactics than the Russian, it was Tursunov’s trademark power that paid dividends with a flattering 6-2, 6-2 result. But his lack of volleys give the game away as to why the sturdy Russian is not really a force to be reckoned with among the world’s top 10.

2009 Men’s Singles – Pre-tournament news

Andreas Seppi, EXCLUSIVE, Julien BENNETEAU, Radek STEPANEK

2009 AEGON International

Pre-tournament news by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

gael monfilsMonfils misery

A further injury to Gael Monfils (pictured) has ended the interest of the provisional top seed to compete at 2009 Eastbourne, after the French ace was forced to withdraw from the tournament at Queen’s Club less than a week before he was due to play at the inaugural AEGON International.

The 22-year-old tends to bounce in and out of the world’s top 10 with his on-going left kneecap injury, but ended his interest in the 2009 AEGON Championships on Tuesday 10 June because of a wrist injury he picked up at the London event.

Monfils has opted to miss Eastbourne to concentrate on being 100% for Wimbledon on 22nd June and took advice from the French Tennis Federation (FTF) over these two injuries before pulling out of the AEGON International on Friday 12 June.

Monfils surprisingly played at Roland Garros, where he reached the semi-final stage in 2008, despite having played only one match on clay in the six weeks prior to the grand slam – suffering defeat in Monte Carlo.

And he was outclassed 6-4, 6-0 by hard-hitting Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in a tame exhibition match in Paris just a few days before the 2009 French Open, when Monfils’ injury to his knee was deemed severe.

“In the evening I had a new, bad pain – it’s not great. I clench my teeth but my knee is still hurting. I’m not at all physically prepared to play [at the French Open], but I still believe a miracle will happen,” claimed Monfils who excelled at Roland Garros before winning two matches on the grass courts at Queen’s Club.

Bernard Montalvan, an FTF doctor, explained that Monfils suffers from an inflammation of the left kneecap that could require surgery and a long period of rehabilitation.

“I clench my teeth but my knee is still hurting … I still believe a miracle will happen!”

– Gael Monfils

Stepanek still on injured list

czech star stepanek may skip eastbourneRadek Stepanek’s ankle injury means that he has choosen to skip Eastbourne’s pre-Wimbledon event in a race be fit for the more lucrative Championships at SW19.

The Czech Republic ace (pictured) retired injured at the Prosrejov Challenger event in early June, immediately after reaching the third round at Roland Garros and definitely misses Eastbourne 2009.

His doctor, Dr Rene Kloc, confirmed about the ankle injury: “The ligaments are not torn but are badly swollen, his involvement in Wimbledon is uncertain.”

The 30-year-old has repeatedly suffered throughout his career with a range of injuries, which have jeopardised Stepanek becoming a regular name in the world’s top 10.

But Stepanek is also well-known for courting as well as on court skills, having been the former fiance of ex-world no1 Martina Hingis and is currently going out with compatriot Nicole Vaidisova despite the huge age gap.

Talented trio fully rested

janko tipsarevicAt last there is some good news for organisers and fans alike as the injuries to Janko Tipsarevic, Eduardo Schwank and Lu Yen-Hsun did not prevent the trio from turning up at Queen’s Club in London.

However, they were all dismal and duly dispatched in the first round at the 2009 AEGON Championships, so at least all have been given time to rest before making their respective Devonshire Park debuts.

Although Tipsarevic retired with leg injuries against Scotland’s Andy Murray at the 2009 French Open, the Serbian crowd-pleaser didn’t appear to struggle with injury – just his game – as he was thrashed by qualifier Nicolas Mahut in the first round at Queen’s Club.

Argentine Schwank retired injured in the opening round of May’s Furth Challenger event in Germany, having breezed through the qualifying rounds, yet was miraclously fit when he was destroyed by Aussie Lleyton Hewitt in the first round at Queen’s to make it one game in the past three sets for out of form Schwank.

And China’s Yen-Hsun may have retired from his first round match at the Roland Garros after losing the opening set to France’s Mathieu Montcourt but was in London on the grass courts.

However, he was remarkably slow around the court during his first round exit at Queen’s Club to Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. The 25-year-old last won two sets in early May at Israel’s Ramat Hasharon Challenger.

EXCLUSIVE | Eastbourne eyed up Murray

andy murray could play eastbourneAndy Murray was all set to play at Devonshire Park had he failed to make much of an impact at the 2009 AEGON Championships in London.

The British ace (pictured) said after his early antipicated French Open exit: “I love playing at Queen’s. But this year there isn’t the same pressure, as the points system has changed.

“You want to play matches to get used to the courts and the movement on grass, but it’s not the end of the world if you lose early.

“There are a lot of exhibition events the following week and the Eastbourne tournament’s not a long way away. If you feel like you want competitive matches you can go there, though ideally I’d have a decent run at Queen’s.”

But event organisers at Eastbourne had kept an eye on Murray’s excellent run at Queen’s Club in case they could persuade him to make the 2009 AEGON International, which currently has no real star attractions in the men’s draw.

Neither of the men’s newly-sponsored AEGON tournaments have ignited the interest of the big guns on the ATP Tour this year, which gives Murray little competition at Queen’s and would have also been a breeze at Eastbourne.

However, the wily Scot did not want to wear himself out before his best ever shot at Wimbledon, particularly as he has a tendency to run out of steam at the larger tournaments and especially events where there are the best of five set matches.

The Lawn Tennis Association told http://www.eastbournetennis.com: “With regard to Andy Murray, he has not entered the tournament yet. If he should request a wildcard, while there are still wildcards available, then he will be given one.”

Gasquet hit by suspension

Career in balance after cocaine drug test

richard gasquetRichard Gasquet will not play at Eastbourne’s inaugural AEGON International. The 22-year-old was handed an immediate provisional suspension (on May 12) from the International Tennis Federation (ITF), following traces of cocaine found in an urine sample after a random drug test.

The French ace (pictured) is gathering evidence to prove his innocence, despite returning two positive drug tests at March’s Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. Gasquet claims that a separate test of his hair samples on May 7 showed no trace of cocaine. He will get an opportunity to put his case in front of anti-doping tribunal around mid-July.

But as it takes around 60 days to put together a suitable panel from around the world, Gasquet misses the French Open, Eastbourne and Wimbledon. With his career is in jeopardy if he is handed a two year ban from the ATP Tour, Gasquet is eager to prove his innocence.

richard gasquetHe issued a statement on 10 May, which said: “The test of the B sample submitted at the end of March 2009 confirmed the positive result of the A sample taken on the same day. I want to prove my innocence and will explain myself at an appropriate time.”

The website of L’Equipe, the daily French sports newspaper, claimed that the drug results revealed traces of cocaine. And cited sources at both the French Tennis Federation (FTF) and Team Lagardere – Gasquet’s training base.

However, the FTF admitted their surprise at reports of Gasquet’s misdemeanour. The FFT also issued a statement on 10 May, which read: “The FFT has learnt of the positive test of Richard Gasquet at the Miami tournament, although no official notification has been made.

“This piece of information is very surprising with regards to the character of Richard Gasquet and, if confirmed according to official proceedings, would be a very sad one for Richard Gasquet, for tennis in general and for French tennis in particular – whose image would be tarnished.

“At this stage, the FFT does not wish to make further comments because it is down to the anti-doping authorities, within the International Tennis Federation (ITF), to assess such a case and it is not for the FFT to intervene.

richard gasquet“The FFT will follow with great attention the developments of this case, avoiding making hasty judgments and anxious to leave the player to organise his defence for the international tennis bodies. If the facts are correct, however, this would be particularly unfortunate in light of all the efforts of the FFT in terms of deterring athletes from using banned substances.”

Gasquet did not compete at the recent Madrid Masters in Spain, withdrew from a recent tournament in Estoril, Portugal (neck injury) and pulled out of Miami (shoulder injury).

He has slipped down the world rankings and languishes just outside the top 20, but despite being seeded no4 for the prestigious event at Devonshire Park will be an overwhelming favourite if he plays. This is because Gasquet has an outstanding record on grass, which includes twice winning the pre-Wimbledon tournament at Nottingham.

“Tennis on grass has always been special to me and I’m convinced that this is the best tournament to play before The Championships,” said Gasquet. “I’m delighted to play the AEGON International this year at Eastbourne.”

But whether he will get the opportunity to play at Devonshire Park in June lies in the balance and has shocked the tennis world.

Entrant news

2009 AEGON International | 13-20 June

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CLICK FOR CURRENT ATP TOUR WORLD RANKINGS

EXCLUSIVE | Entrants for the 2009 AEGON International at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park:

1 Monfils, Gael FRA, world no10 at time of entry
2 Stepanek, Radek CZE 17
3 Tursunov, Dmitry RUS 22
4 Melzer, Jurgen AUT 27
5 Andreev, Igor RUS 32
6 Seppi, Andreas ITA 36
7 Mathieu, Paul-Henri FRA 39
8 Santoro, Fabrice FRA 44
9 Benneteau, Julien FRA 46
10 Bolelli, Simone ITA 50
11 Ljubicic, Ivan CRO 53
12 Querrey, Sam USA 61
13 Ginepri, Robby USA 62
14 Tipsarevic, Janko SRB 63
15 Youzhny, Mikhail RUS 64
16 Gabashvili, Teimuraz RUS 65
17 Lu, Yen-Hsun TPE 67
18 Schwank, Eduardo ARG 71
19 Garcia-Lopez, Guillermo ESP 72
20 Gonzalez, Maximo ARG 74
21 Fognini, Fabio ITA 75
22 Haas, Tommy GER 76

The unlikely lads

Murray and Nadal sign early for Queen’s

andy murrayThere will be disappointment for the followers of men’s tennis, as Andy Murray (pictured left) and world no1 Rafael Nadal (pictured below) have signed up early to play at Queen’s Club in London prior to Wimbledon.

This severely narrows down the possibility of either player appearing on the prestigious grass courts at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park this year, although no one cannot be totally discounted until the last minute.

As Murray’s mother Judy has been involved in the past at Eastbourne’s tennis week, it was hoped that she would be able to help tempt him to show his silky skills to the popular seaside resort crowd.

But following a gruelling clay court season, with Queen’s immediately after the French Open, it is improbable that either Murray or Nadal will wish to play another tournament so close to Wimbledon.

rafael nadalNottingham, which hosted the men’s tournament until last year, had traditionally struggled to attract many big names on the ATP Tour because of the event was played just a week before Wimbledon and the distance from London. But Eastbourne offers a more intimate setting for the tennis stars, and is undoubtedly a more relaxing place to be than Nottingham.

But Nadal, the biggest name in the men’s sport, will be attempting to folllow on from the defence of his French Open crown and try to repeat last year’s remarkable grass court double at Queen’s and Wimbledon.

Nadal, the Olympic champion, said about Queen’s: “To arrive as the last champion is going to be a really nice experience. It was totally unexpected for me to win after winning at Roland Garros. I arrived and had one day to adapt to grass. But I played really, really good tennis.”

“After winning at Roland Garros, I arrived and had one day to adapt to grass”

– Rafael Nadal