Tomic’s turn to wilt Ward

2013 AEGON International, Bernard TOMIC, News, Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Bernard TomicBernard Tomic bounced back from his shock exit at Queen’s with two breaks of serve to defeat British wildcard James Ward on Tuesday.

In their first meeting on the ATP Tour, Tomic put his recent off court troubles begin him to breeze past Ward without breaking a sweat.

The two grass court experts treated the Centre Court crowd to an entertaining contest, although both wavered in terms of confidence at times with a number of unforced errors.

Once Tomic edged ahead then it appeared highly unlikely that the Australian would surrender, leaving Ward – on his fifth successive wildcard at Eastbourne – to concentrate on Wimbledon.

Big serving Tomic has slipped down the world rankings to no64 following his father’s suspension as an accredited coach since an incident at the Madrid Masters. And it was Tomic’s first ATP circuit triumph since his father was charged with alleged assault of former training partner Thomas Drouet in May.

With his father and coach John courtside for the second tournament on the bounce, finally the pair had something to cheer about as the four-match losing streak was halted.

His win-loss record of 15-11 after brushing aside Ward says it all, but if Tomic can continue to utilise his thunderous serve and stay solid at the back of the court then he could be an outsider for the Eastbourne crown.

However, that depends upon whether he is fully recovered from the hamstring injury suffered during the 1st Round at Roland Garros.

Tomic said: “My leg is probably not 100 per cent but I’m feeling OK out there, so hopefully my leg holds up every match I play and I don’t feel it.

“Every match here is going to give me more confidence, and I’m going to have to use these matches for Wimbledon preparation.”

The distractions because of his father/coach could be shaken off at Devonshire Park, which would take Tomic into Wimbledon brimming with confidence.

Raonic races into pole position

Gilles SIMON, Kevin ANDERSON, Milos RAONIC, Players

 

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

MilosRaonicMilos Raonic, the world no15, has taken over the mantle as top seed for the 2013 AEGON International from Gilles Simon after being granted a wildcard on Thursday evening.

The Canadian was bundled out of the 1st Round of the Gerry Weber Open in Germany by French ace Gael Monfils on Tuesday without putting up much of a fight in a 6-4 6-2 reversal.

Despite his infamous booming serve, Raonic made a string of unforced errors and whimpered to his concede defeat – following on from his early French Open exit after being out served by South African Kevin Anderson.

But Raonic’s game has recently been going through a bad patch after he parted ways with Spanish coach Galo Blanco last month.

The 22-year-old has turned to Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic, who retired from competing on the ATP Tour last year after 14 seasons, on a trial run. The pair are working together from Monte Carlo as they both reside in the tax-free haven.

Montenegrian-born Raonic said: “Being coached by Ivan will really offer a new dimension to my game, as his recent experience on Tour is a major plus for my development.

“I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can from him and to continue to grow my game in the best way possible.

“We both come from aggressive styles of play, so he understands the mentality I have on court as well as the areas where I can improve.”

The British duo of Kyle Edmund and James Ward have also been given wildcards into the Eastbourne event.

South African-born Edmund, the world no444, became the youngest British player since Andy Murray to win a Futures event with the Birmingham, Alabama title in American crown in October 2012.

The 18-year-old, given a trio of wildcards by the LTA – for Queen’s, Eastbourne and Wimbledon – last month picked up the Junior French Open Doubles title to add to the 2012 Junior US Open Doubles crown.

Brought up in Yorkshire from the age of three, Edmund said: “This is only my second ATP World Tour event so I’m very excited to be playing against some of the world’s top players at Eastbourne.”

james-wardGreat Britain Davis Cup stalwart Ward came close to breaking into the top 100 last April with a career-high world ranking of no137, and took American ace Mardy Fish to five sets at 2012 Wimbledon before bowing out.

The son of a London taxi driver, Ward’s best results and displays have been on the grass courts in England although he shocked Russian Dimitry Tursunov in April’s Davis Cup tie.

Ward, a 2010 AEGON International quarter-finalist, admitted: “I’m really looking forward to returning to Eastbourne, it’s the perfect opportunity to get in some matches ahead of Wimbledon.”

Provisional eight seeds:

  1. Milos RAONIC (Canada)
  2. Gilles SIMON (France)
  3. Philipp KOHLSCHREIBER (Germany)
  4. Juan MONACO (Argentina)
  5. Kevin ANDERSON (South Africa)
  6. Alexandr DOLGOPOLOV (Ukraine)
  7. Andreas SEPPI (Italy)
  8. Fabio FOGNINI (Italy)

Other provisional entrants:

  1. Julien BENNETEAU (France)
  2. Martin KLIZAN (Slovakia)
  3. Jarkko NIEMINEN (Finland)
  4. Viktor TROICKI (Serbia)
  5. Feliciano LOPEZ (Spain)
  6. Denis ISTOMIN (Uzbekistan)
  7. Radek STEPANEK (Czech Republic)
  8. Ivan DODIG (Croatia)
  9. Grega ZEMLJA (Slovenia)
  10. Bernard TOMIC (Australia)
  11. Fernando VERDASCO (Spain)
  12. James WARD (Great Britain)
  13. Kyle EDMUND (Great Britain)

Simon set to impress

Alexandr DOLGOPOLOV, Andreas Seppi, Fabio FOGNINI, Gilles SIMON, Juan MONACO, Julien BENNETEAU, Kevin ANDERSON, Milos RAONIC, News, Philipp KOHLSCHREIBER, Players, Radek STEPANEK, Thomaz BELLUCCI

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

aegon international men's winnerGilles Simon, who has yet to progress beyond the 4th Round at Wimbledon, is one of the favourites to lift the 2013 AEGON International crown.

But the French ace, whose game is suited to the low bounce on grass, as top seed will no doubt feel the pressure on him at Devonshire Park as he was pushed out of being the top seed on Thursday evening.

Milos Raonic, the world no15, taken over the mantle as no1 seed for the 2013 AEGON International as a late wildcard.

The Canadian was bundled out of the opening round of the grass court Gerry Weber Open in Germany by French ace Gael Monfils, following on from his early French Open exit after being out served by South African Kevin Anderson.

Despite his infamous booming serve, Raonic’s game has recently been going through a bad patch after he parted ways with Spanish coach Galo Blanco last month.

The 22-year-old has turned to Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic, who retired from  the ATP Tour last year after 14 seasons, on a trial run and the duo are working together from their respective residence in Monte Carlo.

Raonic said: “We both come from aggressive styles of play, so he understands the mentality I have on court as well as the areas where I can improve.”

The British duo of talented teenager Kyle Edmund and Davis Cup stalwart James Ward have also been given wildcards into the Eastbourne event.

Ward, a 2010 AEGON International quarter-finalist, admitted: “I’m really looking forward to returning to Eastbourne, it’s the perfect opportunity to get in some matches ahead of Wimbledon.”

Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci has become the first withdrawal from the tournament, and previously skipped the Eastbourne event, although was never amongst the players likely to win.

But Phillip Kohlschreiber, who narrowly missed out on being the no1 seed, is the most probable champion with an attacking style of play that is suited to grass and saw the German reach the 2012 Wimbledon quarter-finals.

South African no1 Anderson made a name for himself on grass with an impressive run to the quarter-finals at 2008 Wimbledon – just a year after joining the ATP Tour – and the thundering serves from the 6 foot 8 inch powerful ace are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Bernard Tomic deflatedYet unseeded Bernard Tomic, who crashed out at Queen’s in London, went one better by becoming the first teenager since German legend Boris Becker to reach the Men’s Singles semi-finals at Wimbledon.

That was in 2011, but the tenacious Aussie had an unhappy return to SW19 last season and has courted controversy off the court due to allegations involving his father/coach John.

Tomic was surprisingly defeated in three sets by Italian Fabio Fognini at the 2012 AEGON International, so will be a dangerous floater in the draw.

Another Italian regular to Devonshire Park, former Eastbourne champion Andreas Seppi, has a slim shot of winning the tournament.

Clay court expert Juan Monaco of Argentina, Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov, French ace Julien Benneteau and Czech Republic’s Radek Stepanek will all be vying a slice of glory although it seems that the top three seeds of Raonic, Simon and Kohlschreiber are the overwhelming favourites to taste success.

 

JAMES WARD

Players

James Ward

Birthplace:
London, England
Residence
London, England
Height
6′ 3″ (1.90 m)
Weight
159 lbs. (72 kg)
Plays
Right-handed
Turned Pro
2006

The British No2 Ward has been granted his fifth wildcard at the Eastbourne’s AEGON international and achieved his best results on grass, including a run to the quarter-finals at Devonshire Park in 2010.

He hit a career-high world ranking of no137 in April 2012 and narrowly missed out at last year’s Wimbledon in a five set thriller to American ace Mardy Fish.

Ward represented Great Britain in the Davis Cup for the seventh time in April 2012, pulling off an incredible five set victory over Russian Dimitry Tursunov.

His Spanish coach Toni Colom arranged for him to spend time in Mallorca as Rafael Nadal’s hitting partner in December 2009, where he fine-tuned his double-handed backhand to great effect.

Ward driven off course

2013 AEGON International

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

James Ward could not emulate the success of compatriot Jamie Baker in the opening round at Eastbourne.

The British wildcard, a former quarter-finalist at Devonshire Park had a shot at scrapping through but Croatian-born Australian Marinko Matosevic proved too hot to handle.

But battler Ward, son of a London taxi driver, was all revved up from the off to steer his way to the opening set.

But Matosevic stepped up a gear to overwhelm his opponent, who appeared to have no answer in the second set.

The vocal crowd helped Ward get back on track after the second set diversion, but Ward simply ran out of steam and ideas to succumb 4-6 6-1 6-4.

Watson breaks duck

Caroline Wozniacki, Feliciano LOPEZ, Laura Robson, News, Results, Sorana Cirstea, WTA Players, Yanina Wickmayer

HeatherWatsonWINSEB2010Heather Watson registered her maiden WTA Tour triumph by overturning a top 50 player much to the delight of the supportive Centre Court crowd.

The 18-year-old Guernsey ace, who scythed through three qualifying rounds to reach the main draw, showed hunger and precision to tear apart Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak – the world no48 – 6-3 6-2.

Watson, ranked 344 going into the 2010 Aegon International, had been granted a wildcard to next week’s Wimbledon on the strength of her exceptional results at Devonshire Park.

And the US Open Junior champion impressed in only her third match in the main draw of a WTA Tour event despite the blustery conditions upsetting both players.

Watson admitted: “I’m so so happy, I was really glad to get through the qualifiers but I didn’t want to stop there.”

She saw off compatriot Anna Smith (world no265), Russian grass court specialist Tsvetana Pironkova (no81) and then Serbian Bojana Jovanovski (no108) in qualifying.

But Watson’s latest triumph eclipsed fellow Brit Laura Robson, the 2008 Wimbledon Junior champion, who has not won a main draw match on the WTA Tour but is only aged 16.

It was a day of shocks with world no3 and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki falling to France powerhouse Aravane Rezai in three sets. And the newly-crowned French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy succumbed in straight to Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

Former Eastbourne winner Kim Clijsters, the 2009 US Open champion, returned to winning ways in her first grass court tournament for four years away, by demolishing Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-1 6-1 with aplomb.

British stalwart Elena Baltacha progressed against China’s Li Na after the no7 seed retired hurt before the start of the second set of what was a dull contest.

James Ward, the son of a London taxi driver, also made the 2nd Round courtesy of his opponent retiring.

The 23-year-old pulled off a shock success to record his inaugural win in a main draw event. He was leading Feliciano Lopez 6-3 5-4 on Centre Court, but the Spaniard threw in the towel by retiring from the contest citing a shoulder injury to concede defeat to the Great Britain Davis Cup player.

Ward described his victory over no2 seed Lopez as the “biggest of my career”.

However, the world no342 turned down a wildcard into the Wimbledon qualifying competition in order to compete at Eastbourne. He explained: “I was offered the chance to play here and I decided it would be best for my ranking.”

 

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.