Wozniacki outshines rising star

2013 AEGON International, Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova, Elena Baltacha, Elena Vesnina, Laura Robson, Maria Kirilenko, News

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Laura RobsonCaroline Wozniacki scored a 6-4 6-4 success in scorching Centre Court sunshine on Wednesday, outshining British teenager Heather Watson.

The former world no1 broke in the ninth game of the intriguing contest and never looked back, notching up a second victory over the 19-year-old in a matter of weeks.

Left hander Robson suffered a humiliating defeat at last month’s French Open, when her feet were like clay on the red soil. But the Australian-born youngest had learned her lessons from that hefty reversal so put up a decent fight against Wozniacki.

With both players possessing an attacking style of game suited to grass, and having each been crowned Junior Wimbledon Singles champions, the contest was always going to one of high quality and entertainment – not just because of the British interest.

The surprisingly quiet set of supporters were divided on who to cheer as the great Dane was a former champion at Devonshire Park and a regular popular figure, whilst Robson is the rising British star yet to shine on the big stay despite cracking the world’s top 50.

Wozniacki, the world no9 whose career nosedived following her well publicised romance with professional golfer Rory McIllroy, made a stuttering start but once ahead there was only one winner.

Wozniacki said: “I love it here and I love playing on grass. I’ve been here 10 years in a row now, including junior tournaments, and I really enjoy the homely feel to Eastbourne.

“Laura served really well today and she put a lot of pressure on me, which made it a really good match to watch.”

With the bit between her teeth Wozniacki eased into a 2-0 second set lead, only to face a temporary blip when the resilience of Robson overpowered her to break serve.

It appeared that Robson got stage fright and started to look jittery, unforced errors costing her dearly. And on match point Robson hit a return long to whimper out of the contest.

Wozniacki added: “It wasn’t a comfortable win. I felt that the crowd were supporting, which was nice because I have a soft spot for Eastbourne.

“I’m just tinkering a little bit with my racquet. I’m still under contract with Yonex, so we’re just trying to figure out a racquet that can help me a little bit more with my game. I just feel like I needed a little bit more power and the racket will help.”

Robson said: “I defended better than I did in Paris and got myself into a lot better positioning in the court.

“But it’s just a couple of shots here and there, and a couple of missed first serves on big that makes a big difference against a top player – it’s frustrating to miss easy shots.”

Two other British wildcards faltered to blonde Russians in three sets. Elena Baltacha put up a battling display on Court 2 to world no10 Maria Kirilenko but Heather Watson was second best to Elena Vesnina.

Baltacha grabbed the opening set off no6 seed Kirilenko but was ousted 4-6 6-4 6-3. Watson made a dreadful start against Vesnina but squared matters to force a third set only to fall apart and suffer a 6-1 3-6 6-2 reversal.

Another Russian, former Eastbourne champion Ekaterina Makarova caused a sensation by overturning German Angelique Kerber – last year’s runner-up – 6-3 6-4.

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Six appeal for Wimbledon ladies

Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Elena Vesnina, Li Na, Maria Kirilenko, News, Petra Kvitova, Players

aegon international 2013Six of the top 10 seeds for 2013 Wimbledon are competing at Eastbourne in a warm-up for the coveted Grand Slam event.

Former Devonshire champion Agnieszka Radwanska is the highest of the seeds (no4) playing at Devonshire Park, Li Na (no6), Angelique Kerber (no7), ex-Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova (no8), former AEGON International titleholder Caroline Wozniacki (no9) and Maria Kirilenko (no10) make up six of the best.

And there are 10 other players at Eastbourne who have also been seeded, including Serbian Ana Ivanovic who made a brief appearance at the 2013 AEGON International after being stunned in three sets by Russian Elena Vesnina.

2013 Wimbledon seeds for Ladies Singles draw:

  1. Serena WILLIAMS
  2. Victoria AZARENKA
  3. Maria SHARAPOVA
  4. Agnieszka RADWANSKA
  5. Sara ERRANI
  6. LI Na
  7. Angelique KERBER
  8. Petra KVITOVA
  9. Caroline WOZNIACKI
  10. Maria KIRILENKO
  11. Roberta VINCI
  12. Ana IVANOVIC
  13. Nadia PETROVA
  14. Sam STOSUR
  15. Marion BARTOLI
  16. Jelena JANKOVIC
  17. Sloane STEPHENS
  18. Dominika CIBULKOVA
  19. Carla SUAREZ NAVARRO
  20. Kirsten FLIPKENS
  21. Anastasia PAVLYUCHENKOVA
  22. Sorana CIRSTEA
  23. Sabine LISICKI
  24. PENG Shuai
  25. Ekaterina MAKAROVA
  26. Svetlana KUZNETSOVA
  27. Varvara LEPCHENKO
  28. Lucie SAFAROVA
  29. Tamira PASZEK
  30. Alize CORNET
  31. Mona BARTHEL
  32. Romina OPRANDI

Vesnina sees off stuttering Ivanovic

2013 AEGON International, Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber

Ana Ivanovic made hard work of her opening match at 2013 EastbourneElena Vesnina dismissed the challenge of Ana Ivanovic in a rain delayed Centre Court three set thriller on Monday afternoon, battling back to carve out a 2-6 6-4 6-3 success.

But it was Ivanovic who had herself to blame and shooting herself in the foot when victory seemed to be in the bag.

Ivanovic said:

“It’s very hard to get rhythm as you don’t get many long rallies. I want to build towards having a few good days of practice in London before Wimbledon.

“I still need to get used to moving on the grass. It’s fun to play on grass because you have to be quick and react, but sometimes it gets frustrating as I have a style of game where I go for big shots.”

The no8 seed was in control in the opening set with her powerful first serve and flat forehand getting the better of Vesnina.

Elena Vesnina But Vesnina, following in the footsteps of another beautiful blonde Russian – Anna Kournikova – by failing to win a Singles title on the WTA circuit, fought back to square the contest with a solid second set display.

The high expectations that came with capturing the 2008 French Open crown, followed by a brief flirtation as world no1, has been a burden on the young shoulders of Ivanovic.

And again the Serbian star was far from her best after her tactics were all too transparent to the never-say-die attitude of Vesnina.

Ivanovic went through a start-stop stutter on the WTA Tour until last year, when she made an impression on the grass courts, suffered from a lack of confidence. But she returned to a top 15 place for the first time since nosediving from being the world’s best player.

Ivanovic, due to her dashing good looks, was written off by many former players as more of a stylish pretender rather than a serious contender on the circuit.

Yet under the guidance of veteran British coach Nigel Sears Ivanovic has worked hard to claw her way back up the rankings, and is seeking a top 10 place soon. But on the evidence of her 1st Round exit to Vesnina that is unlikely to happen in 2013.

Ivanovic possesses a much more controlled gameplan nowadays, no longer relying on her power strikes to win matches. She annihilated Angelique Kerber, the 2012 Eastbourne runner-up, with a near perfect performance over the German at the recent Stuttgart tournament.

But the topsy turvy form and predictable choice of shots made it easy enough for Vesnina to pull off a shock result and stun the ex-world no1.

Ivanovic admitted: “This tournament is always very strong, so from the 1st Round you face a tough opponent. I played well in the beginning, but it was just a few points here and there that really decided this match.”

Radwanska’s role as leading lady

2013 AEGON International, Agnieszka Radwanska, Alize Cornet, Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, Elena Baltacha, Elena Vesnina, Johanna Konta, Klara Zakopalova, Laura Robson, Li Na, Lucie Safarova, Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, Petra Kvitova, Players, Roberta Vinci, Sara Errani, Seeds, Sloane Stephens, Sorana Cirstea, Su-Wei Hsieh, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Tamira Paszek, Varvara Lepchenko, Yanina Wickmayer, Yaroslava Shvedova

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

2013 entrants and seeds

Sara ErraniSara Errani, who brilliantly battled her way to the semi-finals at Roland Garros, misses Eastbourne with a late withdrawal.
The exciting Italian is suffering from both a foot injury and an abductor strain.
But her loss has elevated Aussie ace Sam Stosur to provisionally become a seeded player, although that is dependent following her shock exit at the 2013 French Open.
Russian regular Nadia Petrova and France’s Marion Bartoli are battling it out with Stosur to take the final no8 seeding.
Stosur, who only made late applications for wildcard entries at both Birmingham and Eastbourne grass court court events, will be among the players expected to progress during the week-long tournament.
With Li Na also granted a wildcard entry following a poor performance at the 2013 French Open, then the Chinese no1 has stepped into the shoes of Errani to take over as no2 seed. Li will be extremely eager to kick start her grass court season with progress at Devonshire Park.
Two former Eastbourne champions, top seed Agnieszka Radwanska and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki will provide stiff opposition on their favourite surface.
Angelique Kerber fluffed five match points in the 2012 AEGON International final to Austrian ace Tamira Paszek, so the German star will be determined to go one step better having learnt from her mistakes.
Former Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova as never had much luck at Eastbourne, and the Czech Republic ace will be keen to put that record straight ahead of SW19.
Maria Kirilenko and Serbian star Ana Ivanovic will bring glamour to the courts as well as their amazing array of tennis weapons, although the Russian is unlikely to make much impact in a tough draw.
Seeds are:

  1. Agnieszka RADWANSKA
  2. LI Na
  3. Angelique KERBER
  4. Petra KVITOVA
  5. Caroline WOZNIACKI
  6. Maria KIRILENKO
  7. Ana IVANOVIC
  8. Nadia PETROVA

2012 Ladies Singles – Tuesday’s Results

Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, Elena Vesnina, Laura Robson, Lucie Safarova, Marion Bartoli, Petra Kvitova, Results, Sorana Cirstea, Su-Wei Hsieh, WTA Players

2012 AEGON International

1st Round

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

Kerber steps up

Angelique Kerber, Elena Vesnina, WTA Players

Angelique KerberEB2012Angelique Kerber, the world no9, needed a 49 minute final set to dismiss the challenge of Russian Elena Vesnina in their 1st Round clash.

Although the German lost the opening set, her spirited display saw her then wrap up the second set without dropping a game before a cat and mouse, nervy finale to triumph 3-6 6-0 7-5 in 107 minutes.

Left-hander Kerber, who hit the big time with an impressive run to the 2011 US Open semi-finals, has emerged as a potential Grand Slam champion despite a dire record at majors.

And her appearance at Eastbourne could be the start of the 24-year-old rising through the ranks to become a top five player.

Already Kerber has claimed WTA Tour titles this season – her first on the circuit – by seeing off two big guns in front of their home fans. Marion Bartoli was her victim at Paris in February followed by the scalp of Caroline Wozniacki in April at Copenhagen.

So Kerber is not afraid of upsetting both the opposition and their local supporters, this no nonsense attitude looks to hold the key to a long and successful future for her on the WTA Tour – maybe with Eastbourne’s AEGON International as her third ever career title on the senior circuit.

2012 Ladies Singles – Monday’s Results

Elena Vesnina, Laura Robson, Results, Tamira Paszek, WTA Players

2012 AEGON International

1st Round

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

Qualifying

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

Barthel battered in Birmingham

Ekaterina Makarova, Elena Vesnina, Laura Robson, News, Players, WTA Players

Mona Barthel Beaten in BirminghamMona Barthel will arrive at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park keen to made amends for her poor performance on grass at Birmingham.

The German star, seeded no6 at the AEGON Classic at the Edgbaston Priory Club, was ousted by Czech Republic stunner Andrea Hlavackova in straight sets.

The 25-year-old, a Doubles specialist who won the 2011 French Open with compatriot Lucie Hradecka without conceding a set, saw off Barthel 7-6 6-2.

American teenage sensation Christina McHale, set to make her Eastbourne debut this year, was ousted 6-1 1-6 7-5 in a ding-dong battle to Russian 29-year-old Elena Vesnina.

Fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, seeded no8, was given the runaround in her 7-6 6-3 tussle to beat Kazakhstan’s Sesil Karatantcheva.

Ex-Eastbourne champion Makarova next faces New Zealand no1 Marina Erakovic – the no9 seed – who delivered the knockout blow to Britain’s Laura Robson 6-4 3-6 6-4.

And fellow Brit Melanie South put on a brave battling display before succumbing to former world no1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, seeded no5, 6-1 7-6.

 

 

2012 Ladies Entrants

Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, Elena Vesnina, EXCLUSIVE, Klara Zakopalova, Laura Robson, Lucie Safarova, Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, Petra Kvitova, Players, Sorana Cirstea, Su-Wei Hsieh, Tamira Paszek, WTA Players

Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Provisional players for Eastbourne, not all in the main draw, are:

  1. Greta Arn 
  2. Mona Barthel
  3. Marion Bartoli
  4. Petra Cetkovska
  5. Sorana Cirstea
  6. Stephanie Dubois
  7. Marina Erakovic
  8. Daniela Hantuchova
  9. Andrea Hlavackova
  10. Su-Wei Hsieh
  11. Anne Keothavong
  12. Angelique Kerber
  13. Petra Kvitova
  14. Ekaterina Makarova
  15. Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez
  16. Christina McHale
  17. Li Na
  18. Tamira Paszek
  19. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
  20. Tsvetana Pironkova
  21. Agnieszka Radwanska
  22. Laura Robson
  23. Lucie Safarova
  24. Chanelle Scheepers
  25. Carla Suarez Navarro
  26. Elena Vesnina
  27. Galina Voskoboeva
  28. Heather Watson
  29. Aleksandra Wozniak
  30. Caroline Wozniacki
  31. Klara Zakopalova
  32. Jie Zheng