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.”
Tamira Paszek, the defending AEGON International champion, is keen to emulate her remarkable run on her return to Devonshire Park.
The 22-year-old Austrian rode her luck with ambitious and attacking play to reach the 2012 final in style. Then shocked German Angelique Kerber in three sets, saving five match points in a topsy-turvy final that had neutrals on the edge of their Centre Court seats.
Paszek not only impressed fellow WTA Tour players and the enthusiastic crowds, but her Eastbourne-based godparents throughout last year’s tournament.
The world no.30 admitted: “It would be the most amazing thing if I could win it for the second time, but the fans are always incredible and hopefully they might get behind me again – so I don’t see why it can’t happen again.
“Last year I came into it just looking to play a few games that seemed to go pretty well for me. As soon as I am on grass for two days it feels natural, and I got to the Wimbledon final of the Girls’ Singles.
“I have family who live in Eastbourne so I stay at their house, which does help relax me before the tournament and made a big difference last year.”
- 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.
By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd at Wimbledon
The Austrian ace, who had won just two matches all year prior to Devonshire Park -including 11 1st Round exits on the WTA Tour -saved two match points against former world no1 Wozniacki.
But Paszek won their Centre Court 1st Round clash 5-7 7-6 (4) 6-4 in three hours and 12 minutes.
In a topsy-turvy decisive set, ex-Eastbourne champion Wozniacki moved into a 30-0 3-2 lead only for her tenacious 22-year-old opponent to claw her way back.
After Paszek’s killer baseline strokes destroyed the Dane’s serve to break, the battling Austrian stuttered on her own serve for the match to slip from 5-3 to 5-4.
Wozniacki was hard pushed on her own service game with long rallies, and she unsuccessfully challenged a clearly wayward shot to move to match point against her – and Paszek passed her with a powerful precise drive to take the match.
And to really rub the salt in the wounds, this was the very first time that Wozniacki had suffered an opening round defeat at a Grand Slam.
2012 AEGON International
<< Men’s post Final: Andy Roddick’s winning speech
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<< Ladies post Final: Tamira Paszek’s winning speech
<< Ladies event: Rory McIIroy practices with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki
Andy Roddick | 23 June 2012
Andy RODDICK defeated Andreas Seppi 6‑3 6‑2
Q. Are you a much happier man than you were at the start of the week?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I feel better about my tennis game. You know, like I touched on yesterday a lot of times you make plans on the fly. In a perfect world, the idea was that I didn’t get matches at Queen’s; let’s come here and try and get some matches in.
You know, 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. You know, I think, as I’ve gotten older, I guess I’ve learned to appreciate this a little bit more.
Q. Pretty efficient performance today, wasn’t it?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. I mean, I don’t remember the last time I got broken twice and won 3 and 2. I felt real good. My returns this week were close to as well as I have.
You know, I was able to close well. You know, I started off not serving great and then made an adjustment. I think I served 90% in the second set, which is a pretty strong number, especially given the conditions. Just try to maintain this form going into Wimbledon.
Q. On Wimbledon, you’re playing Jamie Baker in Round 1. Any thoughts on that?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I didn’t know that until not too long ago. I made it a point not to check on this that while this tournament was still going on.
You know, he’s played it before. You know, he’s been in that draw plenty of times. He had a pretty good win here this week I think over one of our guys. You know, you’ve gotta go out and serve well and return well, and hopefully it will take care of itself.
Q. How far do you think you can go at Wimbledon, then?
ANDY RODDICK: Right now my goal is make it past the first round. We’ll see. We’ll renegotiate round by round.
Q. You go in in a much better mood than you were previously?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, yeah. I feel better about my tennis game. You know, coming in here I felt like I was hitting the ball fine in practice. It’s just such a fine line but it seems like a big line between playing well and hitting the ball well in drills in practice and getting that to translate to matches. I was able to kind of find that crossover this week.
You know, now it’s just a matter of, you know, taking care of myself the next couple of days and just trying to maintain what I started this week.
Q. Will you come back to defend your crown next year?
ANDY RODDICK: We’ll see. You know, like I said, I think I answered this yesterday, as well. I think you might have asked it yesterday.
Q. Wasn’t me.
ANDY RODDICK: Wasn’t you? Okay.
It was you? Okay. I’ll let you live, then. (Laughter.) We’ll see. It’s tough for me to say anything at this point.
Q. Can you just tell us a little bit about your feelings about Wimbledon? I mean, it has been discussed as to whether this might be your last year or not. Clearly that’s probably not something you want to answer at the moment, but there will come a time in the not‑too‑distant future when you won’t be able to play there anymore, whether it’s this year, two or three years’ time.
ANDY RODDICK: Sure.
Q. How do you feel about going back and all the experiences you’ve had there and going back again?
ANDY RODDICK: I think it’s the most special place in tennis. You know, I think it’s the event that we have that we can put up against any other sporting event in the world.
As far as the traditions and just the way everything works, you know, it’s a really, really special place. You know, on an off day, I think it was five days before Queen’s, I went and hit on the indoor courts, and just walking through the grounds when nobody is there, it still has that feeling.
I think we’re pretty spoiled when we walk through most tennis venues. I don’t really take notice of too much anymore, I don’t think. I guess I’m a little jaded as far as that goes. But you walk through there, and I think if you have a pulse at all, it grabs your attention.
Q. Are you going to find it hard to pull yourself away from it eventually?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, there’s no rule against me visiting, is there? You guys gonna keep me out of the country or what?
Q. We’ll let you come, yeah.
ANDY RODDICK: Then I don’t have to worry about that then.
Q. Won’t be quite the same, will it?
ANDY RODDICK: It’s never the same, but it is what it is. I have a lot of great memories, you know. I have played some great tennis there over the years, and, you know, somehow or another, it’s one of those things that happens naturally, and I don’t know how, why, or when exactly, but I have developed a good relationship with, you know, the crowds there, as well.
So it’s a special place that I really enjoy playing.
Q. What will this give you confidence‑wise heading into Wimbledon this week?
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, it’s great. I went from a six‑match losing streak to all of a sudden winning a tournament. It’s 180‑degree turnaround. Playing the right way, too.
I felt like I played most of the matches this week on my terms, you know, with the exception of yesterday which was on the wind’s terms and nobody else’s.
I feel good. I felt like I returned really well this week. You know, it turns quickly. I always say that to people ‑ I’m not sure how much they believe me ‑ but you’re never playing as badly as you think, and you’re probably never playing as good as you think, too. I’m just going to stay the course and try to maintain form.
Q. What happened at Queen’s, quite an amazing turnaround. In the space of a week you come to the final and win it here.
ANDY RODDICK: I mean, I had match point at Queen’s a couple times. I win that one, who knows? I could be in the same position there, you know. It’s just a matter of getting over the hurdles. The margins in professional tennis are so small, you know, between ‑‑ a tournament like playing well here, I mean, yesterday I was down break point in the third set. I lose that one, and all of a sudden, who knows what happens? I’m probably not sitting here and you guys still have a lot of questions, you know.
So it’s a fine line. I’m thankful that it went my way this week.
Q. Talk about the men’s game with Nadal and Djokovic. Can anyone surpass them, do you think, this year?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, yeah, you left out Roger. He’s pretty good, too. I’m not in the business of making predictions. That’s not my job. So I’m just trying to play and get through a round and then see where we are after that.
Q. Do you still feel a Grand Slam is in you?
ANDY RODDICK: We’ll see. I know I can win matches. It’s a matter of putting seven in a row together. I don’t know that I’m going to get carried away with thinking of this tournament in the context of a win before the first Monday. I think that’s a little presumptuous for me at this point.
I feel I can put a scare into people right now the way I’m playing.
Q. With your win, you have got over 600 tour victories. How does that feel? Pretty esteemed list.
ANDY RODDICK: I actually miscounted. I thought the one in the morning was 600, and then, you know, bless my team. They didn’t have the heart to tell me it wasn’t. So I kind of messed that one up.
Q. Is that something you keep an eye on as you play?
ANDY RODDICK: No, sure, I was conscious of that. When you do something, you know, 15, 16 people have done in the history of the game, it’s two things: It makes you call into the fact that you are probably older than you want to be at this point, and secondly, it’s a lot of wins. I mean, it’s a lot of matches. You know, it’s a humbling thing.
The other one I wanted to keep alive was, you know, winning one tournament a year for I think it’s 12 years now. I know three or four people have done that.
This has been a good week for me as far as that stuff goes. You know, three weeks ago I couldn’t have thought I was further away, you know.
So it changes quickly. You know, sometimes I need to remind myself of those numbers just to ‑ you know, 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 realize that I’ve done this for a long time pretty well.
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.”
Tamira Paszek | 23 June 2012
T. PASZEK defeated Angelique Kerber 5‑7 6‑3 7‑5
Q. Have you studied the life of Houdini?
TAMIRA PASZEK: I haven’t, no. I don’t know. It was just amazing feeling. I don’t know what kept me going, how I kept going. I was dead tired in the third set. I could hardly move. I just gave all I had left, and it just was enough.
Q. Have you surprised yourself with the way you’ve managed to fight through these matches this week?
TAMIRA PASZEK: I always knew I’m a fighter, I always believed in myself, but I’d say Andrei my coach really helped me to find my passion in the game, to find my belief in myself on court.
Because in practice everything has been working, and now it was just a matter of getting that aggression and pleasure to play on court. It just all fitted together this week.
Q. When she had five match points and she didn’t put any of them away, did you start to think this could be your day?
TAMIRA PASZEK: It was kind of weird, because the game before I slipped on court, and I kind of hurt my Achilles and the ankle a bit, so I was like ‑ I didn’t even think about the score, what was going on. She really played well that game.
I just said, Okay, I’ll just try a dropshot, why not, for a change?
So I kept going, won that game, and then I was just like, Okay, whatever. Just keep playing, try to focus on every point.
To be honest, I did not realize that it was match point or like ‑‑ that was 5‑3 down. She was serving for the match at 5‑4. I was just like on court enjoying the atmosphere with this amazing crowd. It was unbelievable.
Q. Shortly afterwards you had your ankle strapped, and it was getting bigger by the minute.
TAMIRA PASZEK: Yeah, it was getting bigger and bigger. It was so tight, and I hate tight tape. So it was like, Oh, that’s feeling a bit weird on court. You have to manage to get on with things which aren’t perfect. So I just tried to keep there and keep hanging there.
Q. In the beginning, you were almost down 4‑Love. Why the slow start?
TAMIRA PASZEK: I had my chances in the first two games, I was playing well, but I was playing too reserved. She just played her game and went for the shots. Changed the tactics a little bit. I played too much onto her body and on the same side all over again, so I just tried to move her a bit more and get my game going. It worked out in the end.
Q. How is your ankle now?
TAMIRA PASZEK: I haven’t seen the doctor yet. I’m going to meet the doctor afterwards. We’ll have a look at that.
It’s feeling okay. It’s a bit painful, but I’m walking, which is good.
Q. Have you allowed yourself any thoughts about Wimbledon yet?
TAMIRA PASZEK: Not really. Today’s day of Eastbourne, Eastbourne final, you’re only once in the final here in 2012, so that was my day. I tried to enjoy every moment out there. I will enjoy the rest of the day, try to relax, review the whole week, and then from tomorrow focus on Wimbledon starts.
Q. You’ve got some family connections in Eastbourne. How special was it to win in Eastbourne for you?
TAMIRA PASZEK: Amazing. I mean, the feelings, I cannot describe them. I was sitting on the couch at home a week ago, drive from Birmingham, played a horrible match there, no confidence. I was like, Okay, just try to get at least one win under your belt before Wimbledon.
My godfather was joking. He’s like, You’re going to bring me this cup home.
I’m like, Oh, my God. That’s a lot of pressure.
I just took it step by step, day by day, and match by match it just went better and better and better. I haven’t even met him yet. He’s going to be over the moon.
I love Eastbourne I’m already looking forward to come back next week.
Q. Is this the best week of your tennis life?
TAMIRA PASZEK: It’s been one of the best, yeah. Of course, winning a title, you know, everything has to fit together. It was a pleasure to have all my family here, my coach here. My dad came in from London this morning, which was a surprise for me.
So it makes it really special to win, first of all, the title on grass, one of my favorite surfaces, and secondly, in front of the family. So many fans and family and friends back home were watching. So I want to also thank everyone who was supporting me throughout the whole week.
Q. What other family did you have here apart from your father and your Godparents?
TAMIRA PASZEK: That’s it.
Q. That’s it?
TAMIRA PASZEK: That’s it. Friends and people I have known since I’m like two years old. I had a couple of them here. My mom and my brother are home, but they were watching on TV.
Q. What will this do for your career now, you think?
TAMIRA PASZEK: I definitely think it gave me a big confidence boost. Going into Wimbledon now, it’s just a different feeling than a week ago where I was low in confidence and just not sure whether I was doing the right things.
Now I just feel like everything fits together. I’m happy on court. I’m enjoying every moment out there. I feel feet on court, ready to play three sets, been there three hours. Just makes me happy to be healthy out there.
Q. A lot of people might look at your first‑round match now as one of the most exciting now.
TAMIRA PASZEK: I heard about that already. Well, Caroline’s tough opponent, former world No. 1, amazing competitor out there. Doesn’t give you a free point.
So from tomorrow I will just try to, you know, do my work with Andrei, go on court, try to adapt my game, get used to the courts, the atmosphere for Grand Slam again, and then we will see. I will go out there and enjoy every moment and try to do my best.
Q. What’s your head‑to‑head with Caroline?
TAMIRA PASZEK: Oh, well, we know each other since we are like 10 years old. I have a picture at home. We’re like both (indicating short height)?
We played the final when we were Under 12 or something like that. But I think on tour she beat me once. That was the only time we played on tour, if I remember. Juniors many times.
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.”