Wozniacki under strain

Caroline Wozniacki, News, Players, WTA Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

wozniackiebdoubt12Caroline Wozniacki, set to return to Eastbourne for the first time since winning at Devonshire Park in 2009, appears to be coming under immense pressure ahead of Roland Garros.

And health permitting the 21-year-old is eager to warm up for the back-to-back grass court tournaments of Wimbledon and the London 2012 Olympics.

The Danish ace, eager to capture her inaugural Grand Slam title, gave up during her match at the Italian Open because of a respiratory illness.

The former world no1, heavily criticised by players – past and present – for reaching top spot on the WTA Tour without a major title, trailed 6-4 4-0 in Rome against Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues.

Wozniacki consulted medics after losing the opening set of the 2nd Round tie but conceded defeat following advice from her physio in relation to her breathing difficulties.

The great Dane spent most of the 2011 season as world no1, but has slipped down the rankings and is only just inside the top 10.

Wozniacki appears to have been on a downward spiral ever since her romance with Irish golfer Rory McIlroy, which has included the exit of two coaches before returning to her father as permanent coach.

If Wozniacki is forced to skip the 2012 French Open then she will hopefully return to Eastbourne eager to impress, and not be unable to compete ahead of Wimbledon.

Wozniacki will return

Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, EXCLUSIVE, Marion Bartoli, Petra Kvitova, WTA Players

Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Caroline Wozniacki, who claimed her first grass court WTA Tour title by taking the 2009 AEGON International crown, is set to return to Devonshire Park.

The great Dane, a recent world no1, proved to be a popular winner at Eastbourne. But she has not been back to warm-up for Wimbledon since her triumph.

Wozniacki and Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska were the two up and coming aces at the 2009 Eastbourne event, both delighting the Centre Court with their incredible talents.

Ex-Eastbourne champion Radwanska is back at Devonshire Park and so far in 2012 is the in-form player alongside Belarussian Victoria Azarenka. However, Azarenka – who made her Eastbourne debut last year – has risen to world no1 since her grunts were heard all over Devonshire Park, and she has not entered the 2012 AEGON International.

Top 10 player Marion Bartoli is scheduled to defend her title, although the former Wimbledon finalist has been dealt a cruel blow by the French Tennis Federation by being denied an Olympic berth for not playing in Fed Cup ties.

Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova and Russian Vera Zvonareva, the former world no2, are returning to grace the grass courts at Eastbourne – with both in with a shot of claiming the 2012 crown.

Although rejuvenated Serb star Ana Ivanovic – an ex-world no1 – will be aiming to win her first title under new coach Nigel Sears, having impressed on the 2011 grass court season and aiming to return to her former glories.

2009 Men’s Singles Results

Results

2009 AEGON International

Singles first round

winner result loser
I. Ljubicic 7-6, 7-5 A.Seppi
R. Ginepri 6-3, 6-4 A. Golubev
D. Istomi 7-6, 7-5 K.Kim
J. Tipsarevic 6-4, 6-2 P-H.Mathieu
S. Querrey 6-2, 7-5 P. Capdeville
A. Bogdanovic 6-4, 7-6 I. Minar
G. Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 6-7, 6-2 E. Korolev
J. Ward 6-1, 6-3 V. Crivoi
L. Mayer 6-4, 6-2 E. Schwank
J. Goodall 6-4, 6-1 T.Ito
B. Klein 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 T. Gabashvili
F. Santoro 6-3, 6-2 R.Kendrick
C.Fleming 6-7, 6-1, 3-6 Y-H. Lu
F. Dancevic 7-6, 6-2 I. Andreev
J. Benneteau 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 M. Youzhny
D. Tursunov 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 F. Fabio

Second round

player one result player two
A. Bogdanovic 7-6, 4-6, 6-7 D. Tursunov
S. Querrey 6-3, 6-7, 4-6 D. Istomin
F. Dancevic 7-6, 6-4 J. Ward
L. Mayer 6-4, 6-4 J. Benneteau
F. Santoro 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 R. Ginepri
G. Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 6-7, 7-6 Y-H. Lu
I. Ljubicic 6-3, 7-5 J. Goodall
J. Tipsarevic 7-6, 6-1 B. Klein

Quarter-finals

player one result player two
F. DANCEVIC 6-7, 6-4, 7-5 L. MAYER
F. SANTORO [4] 3-6, 4-2, retired I. LJUBICIC
G. GARCIA-LOPEZ [8] 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 J. TIPSAREVIC
D. ISTOMIN 6-7, 4-6 D. TURSUNOV [2]

Semi-finals

player one result player two
F. DANCEVIC 6-4, 6-4 F. SANTORO [4]
G. GARCIA-LOPEZ [8] 2-6, 2-6 D. TURSUNOV [2]

2009 final

player one result player two
D. TURSUNOV [2] 6-3, 7-6 F. DANCEVIC

2009 Men’s Final

Results

2009 AEGON International Final

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd at Eastbourne

Dmitry-Tursunov2009EBwinnerDmitry Tursunov (Russia) defeated Frank Dancevic (Canada)  6-3, 7-6

“It’s good to win, it doesn’t matter which surface it is on,” served up newly-crowned Eastbourne 2009 singles champion Dmitry Tursunov after capturing his first title of the season.

The Miami-based Russian, originally from Moscow, had struggled in the first three rounds to overcome opponents but had few problems in sealing success at the AEGON International at the expense of qualifier Frank Dancevic 6-3, 7-6.

Tursunov did not face a break point and served a dozen aces on his way to romping to victory.

The tournament no2 seed walked away with the opening set as Canadian serve and volley expert Dancevic played defensively. 

And Tursunov’s participation was in slight jeopardy after he required treatment to his ankle midway through the second set, which had previously resulted in a two-month rest from the ATP Tour.

“It’s a great feeling. I suffered a bit in the second set, but now I feel great,” admitted Tursunov.

“Playing on grass can be tough because we only get three or four weeks on it so players are a bit like cats in water, but it seems like a good surface to me.

“Obviously it’s given me some practice on grass, which is very important in the lead-in to Wimbledon as last season I didn’t play as many matches ahead of Wimbledon.

“It is human nature to want to beat someone else – whether it’s Eastbourne, Wimbledon or beating your grandmother at chequers – as it always feels good to win.”

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.

Tursunov survives scare

News

DmitryTursunovvBritEB2009Dmitry Tursunov suffered a scare to British no2 Alex Bogdanovic before edging through an epic three set Centre Court thriller on a tiebreak.

The Russian star was pushed all the way by his opponent – and the home supporters – before booking a 3rd Round berth courtesy of an edgy 6-7 6-4 7-6 triumph.

Bogdanovic celebrated his eight Wimbledon wildcard on the bounce by shocking Czech Republic’s Ivo Minar in the opening round to set up a clash against the world no27.

The 25-year-old, vying his first ever victory at the SW19 in eight attempts, explained: “I wanted to play as many matches as I could on grass before Wimbledon and I’ve been able to do that so I feel prepared.

“But it’s always tough to lose matches like today. It could have been anybody’s victory but at least I played solidly and gave him a game.

“In the second set my serving wasn’t as good and I gave him more chances to attack me which cost me, but I did well to come this far.

“”This is the best I’ve ever played, so I’m going into Wimbledon with great confidence.”

 

Goodall grabs maiden

News

JoshGoodallEB2009winJosh Goodall collected his maiden ATP Tour main draw victory by dismantling Japan’s Tatsuma Ito 6-4 6-1.

And it seemed it was the world no199’s day when nothing could wrong as he was also granted Wimbledon wildcards for both Singles and the Men’s Doubles.

The British no3 enthused: “I’m so excited about Wimbledon and love playing in the tournament, the biggest in the world. Hopefully I can take the lessons of this week and build on them.

“In the past I’ve let my emotions get the better of me, but now I’m able to keep things under control. I’m able to go out now and express myself and play the tennis I want to.

“I’m just really pleased to get through this, it feels good to finally win on the ATP Tour.

“But maybe it’s not as good as I thought it would be because I’ve wanted it for so long, and maybe I was putting too much pressure on myself to win.”

 

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