By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Promising American teenager Madison Keys left the French Open courts in tears following defeat but is ready for a shot at making a name for herself on grass.
The 18-year-old, on her maiden outing in the main draw at Roland Garros, complained after her 6-4 7-6(2) reversal to Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig: “It was raining and dark, but I have to deal with it. On days like this the balls are heavy and everything is even slower.
“But this one defeat hurts more than the others. I just feel like I didn’t play my best. If I played my best then it probably wouldn’t have hurt as bad.”
Puig, a 19-year-old making her French Open debut on the WTA Tour, knew Keys’ game from their encounters on the Juniors circuit and was rewarded for her patient play with a 3rd Round contest against Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro.
But big-serving Keys is desperate to speed her career plans and make the world’s top 50 within the next 18 months. This aim starts with four back-to-back grass court tournaments in England.
She will kick-off at the second tier event in Nottingham followed by trying to make the main draw at the AEGON Classic in Birmingham and the AEGON International in Eastbourne before a shot at making a name for herself at Wimbledon.
Keys admitted: “Grass is faster than clay, so I’m happy. Clay is still not my favorite surface, it totally plays against me and my game.”
2012 AEGON International
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
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