Feliciano Lopez, the obvious dark horse in the draw, dismantled Argentine Juan Monaco in straight sets on Court 1 on Wednesday courtesy of his trademark thunderous serves.
The Spanish star outshone the no4 seed in all departments to secure a quarter-final berth in 70 minutes courtesy of a 6-4 6-4 passage.
The tie was initially an attrition of powerful serves, with both dominating play with booming serves. But Lopez drew first blood match to snatch the opening set.
With the lead Lopez began to mix his tactics, racing to take control at the net and putting away some incredible volleys to unnerve the Argentinian. This worked out to his advantage with two breaks of serve sealing success, initially in the opening game.
But Monaco broke back in the sixth game, but was unable to match the sizzling Lopez who is surely a potential champion. Lopez also defeated Monaco on grass at the 2012 London Olympics.
Another Spaniard made the quarter-finals, Fernando Verdasco losing only four of his first service points in annihilating compatriot Albert Ramos in the straight sets on Wednesday.
The opening match on Court 2 proved to be a disappointment in terms of a contest, with a comprehensive 6-4 6-0 victory.
Gilles 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.
Yet 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.
Gilles Simon, the 28-year-old from Nice, is the top seed as the highest ranked of the trio from the world’s top 20 ATP players due compete at the 2103 AEGON International.
Simon, who reached the dizzy heights of world no6 is nicknamed “Gilou” with his most significant success over Rafael Nadal in Madrid five years ago.
Although British fans will probably remember the current world no17 bowing out to Olympic champion Andy Murray at the 2013 Australian Open.
German Phillip Kohlschreiber (world no18) missed out on being seeded no1 and has the perfect all round game that is suited to grass, so is the most probable champion.
Argentinian Juan Monaco (world no20) is the no3 seed but is a clay court expert so is likely to find the adjustment from a gruelling season on a slower surface difficult to adjust to.
In form Kevin Anderson has been given the no4 seeding and the 6 foot 8 inch South African star will be a force to be reckoned with courtesy of his thundering serve and game suited to fast surfaces.
Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov, a Devonshire Park regular, takes the no5 slot with former Eastbourne champion Andreas Seppi of Italy a dangerous opponent as no6 seed.
Seppi’s compatriot Fabio Fognini takes the no7 berth with French ace Julien Benneteau completing the eight seeds.
But the player that the seeds will be aiming to avoid will be Monaco-based Australian Bernard Tomic, who in 2011 became the first teenager since Boris Becker to reach the Men’s Singles semi-finals at Wimbledon.
Tomic stuttered out of the 2012 AEGON International in three sets to Fognini despite being the no4 seed and was booed off the Wimbledon courts following his destruction of the grass with his racquet after tasting defeat.
Czech Republic’s Radek Stepanek will be another difficult opponent, and if compatriot Tomas Berdych – a top 10 player – has a shortlived experience at Queen’s in London then he will listen to whether his coach Ivan Ljubicic wants him to warm-up Wimbledon as a Devonshire Park wildcard.
Thomaz Belluci has withdrawn from the tournament, which isn’t the first time that the Brazilian has opted to skip the event.
The Argentine began playing tennis when he was seven and turned pro in 2002, although it wasn’t until 2004, when he broke into the ATP top 100, that he established himself on the world stage. That year he won the Sao Paulo Challenger and made his Roland Garros debut. In 2005 he reached his first ATP final in Casablanca.
After a relatively quiet 2006, in which he still managed to climb into the top 75 in the rankings, he enjoyed an incredible 2007 by picking up three ATP titles on clay (Buenos Aires, Portschach and Kitzbuhel), as well as advancing to the last sixteen in the Roland Garros, all of which resulted in him being catapulted to number 23.
In 2008, and despite not winning anything, he achieved his highest ever position in the ATP ranking table (14) after reaching the latter stages of a number of different tournaments. That year he lost the Viña del Mar final which kick started a terrible run of misfortune that would see him lose seven consecutive finals. During this drought he reached the semi-finals of the Masters 1000 in Shanghai (2010) and the quarter-finals in Rome, Indian Wells and Paris.
He finally broke the curse in February 2012, picking up the fourth title of his career by beating fellow countryman Carlos Belocq in, quite aptly, the final of the Viña del Mar. Monaco is also an accomplished doubles player, a category for which he has been bestowed with two titles. He represented Argentina in the Davis Cup final in 2011, where the South Americans lost out to Spain in Seville.