The British no3 dismissed China’s Saisai Zheng 6-1 6-3 but then fell to Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva 4-6 6-3 7-5 in the 2nd Round qualifier at Roland Garros.
Konta admitted: “I must learn from my mistakes and I will work harder. Gutted is an accurate description of how I’m feeling right now. I’m getting physically stronger and I enjoy grass, even though it’s a short season.
“I’m really looking forward to the grass season and thrilled with the tournament coming up in Eastbourne as it’s my home event. I love it in Eastbourne as it is my getaway. I train up in London, which is very busy so when I come back it’s my little haven.”
The 22-year-old, born in Sydney to Hungarian parents, became a British citizen in May 2012 and trains at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton under Louis Cayer.
Konta reached her highest WTA Tour ranking of no142 in February 2013, but with an impressive showing at the grass court events at Birmingham, Eastbourne and Wimbledon could break into the world’s top 100.
2012 AEGON International
Aleksandra Wozniak won 6-3 4-6 7-6 v Galina Voskoboeva
Anne Keothavong lost 2-6 3-6 to Daniela Hantuchova
Tamira Paszek won 7-5 6-1 v Marina Erakovic
Mona Barthel lost 1-6 6-4 1-6 to Chanelle Scheepers
Stephanie Dubois won 7-6 7-5 v Andrea Hlavackova
Bojana Jovanovski lost 2-6 3-6 to Laura Robson
Elena Vesnina won by walkover v Mirjana Lucic
Jade Windley lost 2-6 0-6 to Greta Arn
In the opener Hantuchova served strongly, winning 87% of points off her first service. In the second set the world No.24 carried on in the same vain to take the match 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 12 minutes.
It was a one-sided affair the vocal crowd trying to encourage Keothavong, who was out of her depth against the former top 10 ace.
The pair had only ever met on one previous occasion, at the AEGON International in 2010, which saw Hantuchova sealing victory with ease 6-4, 6-2.
2012 AEGON International draw | By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Caroline Wozniacki, the former world no1 and ex-Eastbourne champion, has been set a stiff task at the AEGON International – her first return to Devonshire Park since triumphing in 2009.
The no3 seed has been drawn against tenacious teenager Christina McHale, widely regarded as the next best thing on the WTA Tour and expected to soon fill the big shoes of ailing veterans Serena and Venus Williams as the American no1.
The winner of this highly anticipated contest is pitched in the same quarter as another ex-world no1 in the shape of Ana Ivanovic, who is on the comeback trail under recently appointed British coach Nigel Sears. But the Serbian star, seeded no4, has a game that is suited to grass despite having never made much of an impact at Wimbledon.
However, Ivanovic faces a qualifier in the 1st Round then, if successful, the winner of China’s in-form Jie Zheng and the stunning Czech Republic ace Klara Zakopalova.
Whoever comes out of that quarter potentially faces Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the Czech Republic star who finished runner-up at last year’s Eastbourne final.
Kvitova was ousted by new world no1 Maria Sharapova at Roland Garros, so will be keen to obtain some grass court practice ahead of defending her title at SW19.
But Kvitova has been handed a nightmare opening round opponent in the form of Ekaterina Makarova, as the Russian is a former Eastbourne champion courtesy of a thrilling two set victory over Belarussian Victoria Azarenka in 2010.
In the same quarter there could be a 2nd Round clash between two talented young Germans, seeded Angelique Kerber and Mona Barthel. Both are deemed dark horses in the race to win the AEGON International, although South African Chanelle Scheepers will be planning a possible quarter-final showdown with Kvitova if she can see off Barthel in the opening round.
Marion Bartoli, the defending Eastbourne champion, is set to face Romanian beauty Sorana Cirstea in the 1st Round.
The French ace, if she wins, would face the winner of Aleksandra Wozniak and Galina Voskoboeva. Bartoli is seeded for a quarter-final clash with Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova.
Agnieszka Radwanska, the world no3 and top seed, leads a tough looking top quarter. The Pole, a former Eastbourne champion, is drawn against Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova – who is known on the WTA Tour for causing upsets. The winner faces either Petra Cetkovska or Carla Suarez Navarro in the 2nd Round.
Daniela Hantuchova, who surprisingly slipped up in her 1st Round match on grass at Birmingham, has been handed an opening round showdown against Brit Anne Keothavong. And the Slovakian will already be eying up her potential 2nd Round opponent out of New Zealand no1 Marina Erakovic and Austrian ace Tamira Paszek, who for the tournament is based at her Godparents who live in Eastbourne.
Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Provisional players for Eastbourne, not all in the main draw, are:
- Greta Arn
- Mona Barthel
- Marion Bartoli
- Petra Cetkovska
- Sorana Cirstea
- Stephanie Dubois
- Marina Erakovic
- Daniela Hantuchova
- Andrea Hlavackova
- Su-Wei Hsieh
- Anne Keothavong
- Angelique Kerber
- Petra Kvitova
- Ekaterina Makarova
- Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez
- Christina McHale
- Li Na
- Tamira Paszek
- Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
- Tsvetana Pironkova
- Agnieszka Radwanska
- Laura Robson
- Lucie Safarova
- Chanelle Scheepers
- Carla Suarez Navarro
- Elena Vesnina
- Galina Voskoboeva
- Heather Watson
- Aleksandra Wozniak
- Caroline Wozniacki
- Klara Zakopalova
- Jie Zheng
by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
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.”
2010 AEGON International
By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Stosur back with a bang
French Open runner-up Sam Stosur bounced back from her disappointment of losing in Paris, her first grand slam final, by dismissing 18-year-old American teenager Melanie Oudin 6-4, 6-4.
The Australian no3 seed made a stuttering start, but her trademark kick serve paid dividends to see off brave battler Oudin – a quarter-finalist at the 2009 US Open.
Stosur now faces former top 10 player Daniela Hantuchova, following the Slovak’s comfortable win over London-based British wild card Anne Keothavong 6-4, 6-2. Ever-improving Hantuchova finished runner-up at Eastbourne 2004.
Former Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli, who has reached the semi-final stage at Devonshire Park for the past three seasons, steamed on with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Russian Vera Dushevina, the 2005 Eastbourne runner-up.
French ace Bartoli next meets Hungarian Agnes Szavay in the round of 16, who struggled to see off Belarussian Olga Govortsova 3-6, 6-2, 7-6
Czech star Lucie Safarova held off Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the battle of the babes on Court 4 with a thrilling 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 triumph.
And Russian Vera Zvonareva put up a brave fight before bowing out 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 to Spain’s Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez.
Daniela Hantuchova defeated Anne Keothavong 6-4 6-2
Lucie Safarova defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 3-6 6-4
Marion Bartoli defeated Vera Dushevina 6-4 7-5
Maria-Jose Marinez Sanchez defeated Vera Zvonareva 6-3 3-6 7-5
Sam Stosur defeated Melanie Oudin 6-4 6-4
Agnes Szavay defeated Olga Govortsova 3-6 6-2 7-6
This week’s top seeds are reigning Eastbourne champion and US Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki and surprise French Open champion Francesca Schiavone. Wozniacki faces French babe Aravane Rezai, while Schiavone tackles Romanian beauty Sorana Cirstea.
Wozniacki is defending her title, having defeated France’s Virginie Razzano in last year’s final to capture her only career grass-court tournament on the WTA Tour.
US Open champ Kim Clijsters is seeded fifth this week and will return to action after being sidelined with a foot injury since April. Former world no1 Clijsters – and Eastbourne 2005 champion – faces Belgian Fed Cup team-mate Yanina Wickmayer.
2010 AEGON International
Pre-tournament news by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Caroline Wozniacki has a daunting task ahead if she is to successfully retain her Eastbourne crown, won so spectacularly in 2009.
The great Dane needs as much bite as she can muster with the draw comprising six of the current world’s top 10 players.
And Wozniacki is one of four ex-Eastbourne champions alongside popular Pole Agnieszka Radwanska (2008 winner), Belgian ace Kim Clijsters (2005) and out-of-sorts Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova (2004).
With such a strong field, it has been no surprise that there are some really tough opening round draws that would be worthy of a final at most other events.
Wozniacki faces in-form French star Aravane Rezai, who won the Madrid Masters on clay that allegedly upset compatriot Martoli Bartoli because of all the media attention at the 2010 French Open.
Bartoli has reached three successive semi-finals at Eastbourne, but will need to be back to her best if she is succeed again. While Shahar Peer, tipped by numerous former players as a future Wimbledon champion, is surely due some long overdue success at Devonshire Park.
Clijsters is on the comeback trail and although is a favourite with the fans may not entertain the crowds for long as she has to face Fed Cup team-mate Yanina Wickmayer.
Francesca Schiavone, the newly-crowned French Open champion, may not be a grass court expert but should easily see off Kuznetsova if they both reach the second round. Kuznetsova fell out of the world’s top 10 for the first time in over four years after being bounced out of the French Open early.
Big-serving Sam Stosur, runner-up at Roland Garros, has dramatically improved since the semi-finals at Eastbourne 2008 but her sternest test is likely to be a quarter-final clash against 2010 Australian Open semi-finalist Li Na.
The Chinese ace picked up the grass court title at Birmingham on Sunday with a comfortable win over former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova.
Schiavone inspires Italy
Francesca Schiavone’s surprise victory on the clay courts at Roland Garros has inspired the Italian football team ahead of the FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa.
Milanese ace Schivone became the first woman outside the world’s top10 to win a grand slam singles title since 1933. The 2009 Wimbledon quarter-finalist (left) outplayed Australia Sam Stosur in the final at Paris.
When Schivone was quizzed what makes her game so special, she claimed: “Going over the limits, and being everything you can be in two hours.”
Henin misses Eastbourne
Justine Henin, desperately seeking to win Wimbledon, but has opted to skip 2010 Eastbourne.
The Belgian ace has signed up for the grass court UNICEF Open at Rosmalen in Holland, as she warms up for the only grand slam event to elude her.
This will only be Henin’s eighth event since returning to the WTA Tour, following her shock fourth round 2010 French Open exit to Australian Sam Stosur.
I knew that 2010 was going to be difficult, I thought it would be a year of transition. I’m getting used to dealing with situations.
– Justine Henin
Brits back in business
British no1 Elena Baltacha, who warmed up for Eastbourne by winning the AEGON Trophy at Nottingham, has done enough to climb up the world rankings and claim a wildcard entry into the event at Devonshire Park.
And compatriot Anne Keothavong, the ex-British no1 before a long-term injury, has also been handed a wildcard to the event.
Scottish star Baltacha (pictured), plagued by injuries for years, only rejoined the world’s top 100 in early 2010 but she has been cutting her way through the world rankings ever since.
Delighted with her form and playing at Eastbourne, she said: “There’s nothing like playing in front of your home crowd, but like always I’m going to give it everything I have.
“I always join the week as the grass plays similarly to Wimbledon. I’ve got a lot of friends down at Eastbourne, so I always end up staying the whole week.”
Calm Clijsters all clear
Kim Clijsters, the 2009 US Open champion, will be making a return appearance at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park this year despite missing the 2010 French Open with a foot injury.
Clijsters will use Eastbourne to warm-up before competing in the singles and mixed doubles – with compatriot Xavier Malisse – at 2010 Wimbledon.
The former 2005 Eastbourne singles winner briefly left the WTA Tour to have a baby, but has made a dramatic reappearance on the professional circuit.
Eastbourne’s one of my favourite events. I won it in 2005 and I can’t wait to challenge for the title again.
– Kim Clijsters
Kuznetsova’s quick on the draw
Svetlana Kuznetsova has stepped in to replace her injured Russian compatriot Elena Dementieva at the 2010 AEGON International.
The ex-Eastbourne champion, who was knocked out of the third round at Roland Garros while trying to defend her French Open title, is desperate to rediscover her form for Wimbledon after falling out of the world’s top 10 for the first time in a decade.
I’m delighted to have been awarded this wildcard to Eastbourne, it provides excellent preparation for Wimbledon. It brings back good memories after my victory there in 2004. Without playing matches, it’s hard to win.
– Svetlana Kuznetsova
Dementieva down and out
Elena Dementieva, who claimed that she had played at Roland Garros with a torn calf muscle since the second round, retired with the injury at the semi-final stage.
The no5 seed (pictured) in Paris received treatment during her French Open quarter-final victory over compatriot Nadia Petrova, but did not require a physio on the Philippe Chatrier Court against the Italian.
“I’ve a tear in my left calf, so it’s very painful to even walk,” she said. “Today was just a sharp pain and it was a bit too much.”
Peer placed for top 10 hit
Shahar Peer returned to her native Israel for a break before her grass court season kicks off at Eastbourne, where she aims to edge ever closer to being a top 10 player.
Her clay court season displays, including semi-final spots at Madrid and Stuttgart as well the last 16 at the French Open, has lifted her to world no14 going into the 2010 AEGON International.
Coach Pablo Giacopelli said: “Peer will get to the top 10 this year, or at least get very near to it, but the key is about staying there.”
No risk for Robson
Laura Robson has opted to qualify for the Birmingham grass court tournament ahead of Wimbledon, but skips the 2010 AEGON International as she has accepted a wildcard into the WTA Tour event of the Unicef Open in Rosmalen, Holland.
The event in the Netherlands is run by her management company, Octagon, and her coach Martijn Bok is also Dutch.
But the teenager was not a popular player after referring to other WTA Tour players as “sluts”. She later apologised for her jibe.
Great Dane back for third bite
Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, the Danish ace, will make it a hat-trick of appearances at Eastbourne by playing at Devonshire Park.
The 2009 US Open runner-up is a grass court expert and relishes the chance to play on the surface prior to The Championships.
“I’m really excited to defend my title,” enthused Wozniacki “And I can’t wait to return to England for the grass court season.”