Top 20 aces to grace Eastbourne

Ana Ivanovic, Legends, News, WTA Players

by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

anaKEBAlthough there have been some truly greats to have played singles at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park, there have been so many doubles experts as well as well-known crowd-pleasers who failed to make a real impact despite all the hype.

Fans have been extremely vocal towards the stars that have shone in the annual event, held a stone’s throw from the seafront at the ppular British resort. with Russian babe Anna Kournikova especially popular with both male and female fans despite never winning a singles title throughout her career.

And although fans have adored these aces, there have been a number of tennis stars who were due to play at the prestigious Devonshire Park International Tennis Centre and disappointed the crowds with their non-appearance.

ana-ivanovicIn recent years, both Russian ace Maria Sharparova and Serbian starlet Ana Ivanovic have been pencilled in to play at Eastbourne. Sharparova won the Edgbaston event so skipped Eastbourne and went on to win become a Wimbledon champion.

Ivanovic pulled out of making her Eastbourne debut last year, partly because of injury and partly because of exhaustion following her unexpected French Open triumph, missed out on playing at Devonshire Park in 2005 because of an injury but is set to make it third time lucky in 2009 despite not being the force she was.

Appreciative fans have been treated to superb strokes and thrilling matches as well as a number of upsets on both Centre Court and the intimate No1 Court.

We have served up what we believe is the ultimate top 20 aces to grace Devonshire Park in terms of results, commitment to playing the pre-Wimbledon tournament and how the fans really reacted to their presence.

Our leading ladies | listed alphabetically

Tracy Austin, Kim Clijsters, Lindsay Davenport, Chris Evert, Justine Henin, Martina Hingis, Andrea Jeager, Anna Kournikova, Conchita Martinez, Amelie Mauresmo, Martina Navratilova, Jana Novotna, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Monica Seles, Pam Shriver, Betty Stove, Virginia Wade, Serena Williams and Venus Williams.

tracey-austinatEastbourneTracy Austin

Ex-world no1 American teenage prodigy who exploded onto the sport aged 14. In 1979, aged 16, Austin became the youngest player to win the US Open. She added the 1981 US Open for 30 career titles, but never got further than the semi-finals of Wimbledon. Retired aged 21, made two comebacks and now works as a commentator for American TV. Austin’s record in the UK was pretty impressive, with two Eastbourne titles and became Wimbledon’s youngest ever competitor aged just 15.

Kim ClijstersKim Clijsters

Ex-world no1 Belgium who won the 2005 US Open. Finished runner-up at the Australian Open and the French Open although never got further than the semi-final stage at Wimbledon despite her runner-up spot at junior Wimbledon in 1988. Retired from the sport aged 24 in 2007 and had a baby the following year but is going to give it another shot on the Sony Ericssson WTA Tour after 2009 Wimbledon.

lindsaydavenportatEBLindsay Davenport

Ex-world no1 American who has won all the grand Ssam titles except the French Open, including the 1999 Wimbledon Championships. Took a 11-month break from the sport to give birth to her son, Jagger, in 2007. Is expecting her second child in 2009, and is unlikely to ever return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

chris-evertatEastbourneChris Evert

Ex-world no1 American in 1976 became the female athlete to win over $1m in career earnings. Evert won 18 grand slams, comprising seven French Open titles, six times a winner of the US Open, a trio of Wimbledon triumphs and two Australian Open successes. Retired in 1989, runs her own tennis academy in the USA and is almost as famous for her many marriages – to British tennis no1 John Lloyd but is currently married to veteran golfer Greg “The Shark” Norman.

JHenin2007EBsemiJustine Henin

Ex-world no1 Belgian who in 2007 became the first sportswoman to earn over $5m a year in prize money. Henin won her fourth French Open and second US Open in 2007, adding to her 2004 Australian Open title. She reached all four grand slam finals in 2006 but only won the French Open. Made shock retirement aged 25 in 2008.

MHingisEBMartina Hingis

Ex-world no1 from Switzerland who dominated the sport in 1997 by winning three grand slam titles and added two more grand slams in her career. The prodigy, named after Martina Navratilova, retired between 2002 and 2006 following injuries. Hingis was banned for two years from January 2008 after testing positive to cocaine during 2007 Wimbledon but is unlikely to return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

andrea-jaegeratEastbourneAndrea Jaeger

American whose promising career was curtailed by shoulder injuries, but won 11 titles. Jaeger reached two Grand Slam finals, the 1982 French Open and Wimbledon in 1983. Retired aged 22 in 1987, and in 2006 took the vows to become an Anglican Dominican nun so is now known as Sister Andrea.

anna-kournikovainsunnyeastbourneAnna Kournikova

Russian doubles specialist who was famous for never winning a singles title. In 1997, she became only the second woman – following Chris Evert – in the open era to reach the semi-final on her Wimbledon debut. Retired from the WTA Tour in 2004 but still plays in high-profile celebrity matches for charity.

Hana MandlikovaEastbourneHana Mandlikova

Czech Republic ace who played in four consecutive grand slam singles finals, from the 1980 US Open to Wimbledon in 1981, Mandlíkova won all the grand slam titles except Wimbledon, and finished runner-up in four grand slam singles events. Retired aged 28 after struggling with injuries.

conchita_martinez_mylife-retConchita Martinez

The only Spanish woman to have won the Wimbledon, after shocking Martina Navratilova in the 1994 final. Finished runner-up at the 1998 Australian Open and 2000 French Open. Became the only player to win the Italian Open singles title in four consecutive years (1992-1996). Retired from the WTA Tour in 2006.

AMauresmo2007EBQFAmelie Mauresmo

Ex-world no1 French ace who won her only two grand slam titles in 2006, the Australian Open and Wimbledon, following the disappointment of losing the 1999 Australian Open final to Martina Hingis. One of only three women to be crowned world no1 without first winning a grand slam singles title. W,on the 2009 Paris Indoors event. Won Eastbourne once and finished runner-up once.

Martina-NavratilovaHSMartina Navratilova

Ex-world no1 Czech-born American who dominated the women’s tennis in the late 1970s and 1980s. In 1982, she became the first player to win over $1m in a single year. Reached Wimbledon final 12 times, including nine consecutive years from 1982 through 1990, and won the title a record nine times. Won Eastbourne a remarkable 11 times, though was disappointed by having to play the qualifying event at Devonshire Park in 2004.

jana_novotnaJana Novotna

Doubles specialist from the Czech Republic whose only grand slam success was the 1998 Wimbledon Championships. Twice finished runner-up at Wimbledon, in 1993 and 1998. Famously burst into tears at SW19 after she narrowly lost to Steffi Graf, and was comforted by the shoulder of the Dutchess of Kent.

arantxa-sanchez-vicarioArantxa Sanchez Vicario

Ex-world no1 Spaniard who won four grand slam titles, which included a hat-trick of French Open victories in 1989, 1994 and 1998. Finished runner-up in eight grand slams, including the 1995 and 1996 Wimbledon finals and three French Open finals. Retired from the WTA Tour in 2001.

monica-selespracticeatEBMonica Seles

Former world no1 American-Yugoslavian who collected seven grand slam titles between 1990 and 1992. Forced out of the sport for two years after a crazed fan of rival Steffi Graf stabbed her in the back on court. On her return Seles won the 1996 Australian Open and retired after the 2003 French Open but suffered weight problems until 2008.

pamshriverPam Shriver

American doubles expert who reached just one grand slam singles final, the 1978 US Open, where as an unseeded 16-year-old amateur she beat Martina Navratilova but lost to Chris Evert. Currently is a sports presenter for television stations in the United States.

BettyStoveBetty Stove

Dutch doubles specialist who failed to win any singles titles throughout her career, but came closest in her 1977 Wimbledon final defeat to Virginia Wade. After she retired she coached Hana Mandlikova for 10 years from 1980.

virginia-wadeEBVirginia Wade

Last British player to win a Wimbledon singles title, brilliantly triumphing during the centenary year of the Championships in 1977 in front of Queen Elizabeth II. Captured three grand slam titles during a 26-year career, which included the end of the amateur era. Works as a tennis commentator for BBC TV.

Serena-WilliamsatEastbourne-Serena Williams

Ex-world no1 American who helped revolutionise women’s tennis with her powerful style of play. Is the most recent player to hold all grand slam titles simultaneously and has an incredible tally of nine grand slams to her credit, including Wimbledon in 2002 and 2003. Still a major force on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and believes that she is really the world no1.

venus-williamsatEastbourneVenus Williams

Former world no1 American who has help redefined the women’s game with her sheer strength and athleticism. Collected seven grand slam titles, including a remarkable set of five Wimbledon triumphs in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008. She was the voice who championed equal prize money for men and women at both the French Open and Wimbledon. Still on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and a true champion on and off the court with her genuineness and stylish plat.

Great Brit returns

2013 AEGON International, Laura Robson, Petra Kvitova

laurarobsonEB2012Laura Robson, who made her dream debut in the main draw at Eastbourne’s Aegon International last year, is set to return to Devonshire Park for the 2013 tournament.

The 19-year-old, who captured the Junior Wimbledon title aged 14, defeated Spaniard veteran Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez in the opening round at Eastbourne before tasting defeat at the hands of Russian ace Ekaterina Makarova.

Brit Robson explained: “I’m excited to be returning to Eastbourne, it’s fantastic preparation ahead of Wimbledon.”

The six-footer broke into the world’s top 100 in 2012 and picked up a silver medal at doubles with Andy Murray at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The season also saw a remarkable run to the last 16 of the US Open, delivering shocks to former Grand Slam champions Kim Clijsters of Belgium and Li Na of China.

And Robson’s promise was revealed at the start of the 2013 season with an incredible display to defeated ex-Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the Australian Open, which resulted in the six-footer breaking into the world’s top 40.

Hantuchova’s health concerns

News, Players, WTA Players

Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

daniela hantuchova doubtful for EastbourneDaniela Hantuchova, who has skipped singles events on the WTA Tour since April, is a major doubt for Eastbourne and Birmingham — the two traditional Wimbledon warm-up events.

The popular Slovakian ace, whose form has dipped dreadfully after a promising start to the season, even withdrew from the 2012 French Open for “personal reasons”.

The world no18 is set be the no2 seed at the AEGON Classic in Birmingham (11-17 June) behind top seed Sabine Lisicki of Germany — who Hantuchova lost to in last year’s final.

And if Hantuchova prepares for the back-to-back majors of Wimbledon and the London 2012 Olympics at Devonshire Park (16-23 June), then she will be aiming to go further than last season when she was forced out of the AEGON International by injury on Court No1.

Hantuchova, informed Roland Garros officials that she was not ready to compete in Grand Slam event due to personal reasons. However, the 29-year-old is prone to niggling injuries and may simply be just resting ahead of the looming grass court season.

She was in formidable form at the start of the year, finishing runner-up at the season opening tournament in Brisbane but was destroyed by former Eastbourne champion Kim Clijsters in the 3rd Round of the Australian Open.

The Slovakian star shone with a pair of terrific triumphs to oust France in the Fed Cup tie and then retained her Pattaya Open title. But after poor performances in Doha and Dubai, Hantuchova was hammered in Indian Wells and Miami.

Lacking her usual confidence, she lost at singles and then bounced back to claim a win in Slovakia’s narrow Fed Cup success over Spain. Yet she has skipped the clay court season — including the French Open, the Italian Open as well as high-profile events in Madrid and Barcelona.

Since receiving the coveted 2001 Newcomer of the Year award from the WTA Tour, she remains in the world’s top 20 at singles. Only time will tell whether she returns to compete at Eastbourne this year.

 

 

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.”

 

Magical Makarova in seventh heaven

Agnieszka Radwanska, Ekaterina Makarova, News, Players, Sam Stosur, Svetlana Kuznetsova, WTA Players

Makarova wins 2010 Eastbourne Tennis final2010 AEGON International final

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Ice-cool Ekaterina Makarova became the first qualifier to ever claim the Eastbourne event, after winning seven matches on the trot.

The Russian world no100 stormed to her maiden career title without dropping a set all week, and sealed success with a battling 7-6 (5)  6-4 victory over Victoria Azarenka in 112 minutes.

But in the opening exchanges candyfloss pink-kitted Belarussian ace Azarenka looked to end the giant-killer’s emphatic run by racing to an opening set 3-0 lead.

The 22-year-old, playing in traditional Wimbledon white, then got some advice from her coach after the stuttering start to bounce back in style and edge the tiebreak against the world no15.

After high-pitched shrieker Azarenka sped into an early 2-1 lead in the next set, the 20-year-old part-based in Arizona and Paris, seemed to be struggling with a knee injury so called for her coach.

After the enforced break, Makarova immediately broke Azarenka’s serve to level matters at 2-2 and then went for broke to seal the set and the title to become the first unseeded Devonshire Park winner since Chanda Rubin’s 2002 triumph.

And Makarova will climb up the world rankings after her run of wins on grass, especially as prior to Eastbourne she had not registered back-to-back main draw matches this season.

The rising Russian star steamrolled to the final, including stunning victories over twice grand slam winner and compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova and recent French Open runner-up Sam Stosur of Australia.

Makarova wins 2010 EastbourneMakarova, playing in her third career final, said:

“I started very good today and made no mistakes, but then I got a bit nervous and she came back, but I threw this from my mind and played point by point.

“I’m in shock right now, especially that I didn’t lose a set. This is just unbelievable to me, I cannot believe that I did it.

“I can’t understand yet that I’ve won. There was no secret to the success, my secret has been my great coach – the best!

“I was eating every day pasta in the same restaurant, so maybe that’s the reason! But I also like the grass and I’ve really enjoyed the week.”

Azarenka, who saw off two former Eastbourne champions – Kim Clijsters and Agnieszka Radwanska – to reach the final, would not expand on her injury and explained:

“It’s my problem, I’ll keep it to myself. I still have to treat it and I don’t want to put it out there but it’s not a big thing.”

 

2010 AEGON International – Ladies final preview

Agnieszka Radwanska, Ekaterina Makarova, Marion Bartoli, News, Players, Sam Stosur, Svetlana Kuznetsova, WTA Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Big guns misfired but bring on the big shots

Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)

Victoria Azarenka EB 2010Victoria Azarenka is the favourite to be crowned Eastbourne 2010 champion after scything her way past top names on grass, but faces a daunting task against world no100 Ekaterina Makarova.

Belarussian ace Azarenka has been at her high-pitched shrieking best to dismiss quality players in her side of the draw, including a first round exit for 2008 Eastbourne winner Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and a semi-final success over French ace Marion Bartoli – both in straight sets.

Makarova has been in emphatic form, and steamrolled her way through three qualifying matches as well as the main draw without dropping a set.

The giant-killer subdued battling Australian Sam Stosur in a memorable semi-final showdown, fighting back from an initial 3-0 deficit before her coach intervened and a change of tactics deservedly edged her into the final.

Tennis - AEGON International - Day Three - EastbourneLittle known Russian Makarova is the first qualifier to reach the final at Eastbourne since compatriot Vera Duchevina finished runner-up to Belgian’s Kim Clijsters at Devonshire Park in 2005.

Makarova tore past in-form compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova, a two-time grand slam champion and a former winner at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park, with a gritty performance and is becoming an expert at tiebreak victories.

She has made a mockery of the seedings at Devonshire Park this year, having pulled off a set of impressive results since the qualifying stages, and doesn’t look like running out of steam on the big stage – she could also surprise the entertaining Azarenka.

Victoria Azarenka vs Ekaterina Makarova

Jul 31, 1989 Birthday Jun 07, 1988
20 Age 22
Belarus Country Russia
15 Rank 100
Right-handed Plays Right-handed

Ladies – Friday 18 June 2010

Agnieszka Radwanska, Ekaterina Makarova, Marion Bartoli, News, Players, Sam Stosur, WTA Players

2010 AEGON International

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Previous meeting

Players Result Rd Date Tournament
Azarenka Bartoli 6-3 6-1 Fin. 10 Jan 09 Brisbane Int.

Ladies – Thursday 17 June 2010

Ekaterina Makarova, Marion Bartoli, News, Players, Svetlana Kuznetsova, WTA Players

2010 AEGON International

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Marion-Bartoli Eastbourne 2010Battling Bartoli takes thriller

Bartoli defeated Martinez-Sanchez 5-7 6-4 7-6(5)

French ace Marion Bartoli scraped her way into a fourth successive Eastbourne semi-final despite being outplayed by the impressive Spaniard in a marathon match.

Marie-Jose Martinez-Sanchez was quickest to the ball and thundered nine aces in the opening set, but Bartoli’s swift footwork and steely determination took the first set to a tight conclusion.

But Martinez-Sanchez seemed to run out of steam in the second set as the Bartoli started racing towards the net and force errors. With matters levelled, it was anyone’s match but Bartoli took the early initiative to carve out an early lead.

Martinez-Sanchez was equal to everything thrown at her in the decisive set, and bounced back with a further four aces to force a tiebreak.

Bartoli sped away into a 4-1 advantage but was soon pegged back and it was a close contest, but former Wimbledon runner-up Bartoli used her guile and experience to seal a fantastic victory and another chance to make the final at Devonshire Park.

Marion Bartoli M-J Martinez-Sanchez
Oct 02, 1984 Birthday Aug 12, 1982
25 years Age 27 years
France  Country  Spain
12 Current rank 23
9 (2008) Highest rank 19 (2010)
Right-handed Plays Right-handed

Sam Stosur 2010 EB

All steam ahead for stuttering Stosur

Stosur defeated Baltacha 6-7(5) 6-1 6-0

Powerful Sam Stosur was slow off the blocks in a boring battle on Centre Court’s opening match of the day, but bounced back to wipe the floor with British no1 Elena Baltacha.

The Scot exceeded her expectations at Devonshire Park with back-to-back wins over top quality Chinese opponents to reach her first Eastbourne quarter-final, and looked likely to stun French Open runner-up Stosur.

After Baltacha nicked the first set on the tiebreak, Stosur turned on the style to humble her opponent with powerful serves and steady backhand winners.

The tough Aussie steamed into her second semi-final at Devonshire Park, dictating the pace of each point. But the polite crowd seemed more enthusiastic towards sleeping in the sun after popping Champagne corks than supporting Baltacha in the battle of black-kitted muscle women.

Sam Stosur   Elena Baltacha
Mar 30, 1984 Birthday Aug 14, 1983
26 years Age 26 years
Australia  Country  Great Britain
7 Current rank 62
7 (2010) Highest rank 59 (2010)
Right-handed Plays Right-handed

Victoria Azarenka EB 2010Azarenka arrives to call the big shots

Azarenka defeated Clijsters 7-6(6) 6-4

Brilliant Belarussian Victoria Azarenka continued to turn the form books on their head but outgunning and out-shrieking fans favourite Kim Clijsters in straight sets.

It was a wondrous win for Azarenka in the Centre Court thriller, having to dig deep and stay composed for the most crucial points to bravely battle past the US Open champion and former Eastbourne winner.

Azarenka fluffled chances to seal the opening set, hindered by the blustery conditions, but deservedly won the tense tiebreak in a marathon 62 minute opening set.

Clijsters bounced back to her best to reel off a seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead, with a tremendous serve followed by a powerful cross-court forehand winner, and then 4-2.

However Azarenka played beyond her years to steadily steal big points and somehow level matters, thanks to hitting two double-faults from under pressure Clijsters.

The unseeded Belarussian held her nerve to edge ahead, leaving Clijsters to serve to stay in the tournament. But Clijsters, willed on by the crowd, completely choked and hit three forehand shots into the net to gift Ararenka her first Eastbourne semi-final appearance.

I’m very happy to have won, despite the windy conditions. I’m playing well here on grass, and it was a good decision to play here after having to withdraw for the last two years. I’ll take each match as it comes before Wimbledon

– Azarenka

 
Victoria Azarenka Kim Clijsters
Jul 31, 1989 Birthday Jun 08, 1983
20 years Age 27 years
Belarus  Country  Belgium
15 Current rank 9
6 (2010) Highest rank 1 (2006)
Right-handed Plays Right-handed

Tennis - AEGON International - Day Three - EastbourneMakarova lines up title ambition

Makarova defeated Kuznetsova 6-4 7-5

Qualifier Ekaterina Makarova ended Svetlana Kuznetsova’s impressive run in straight sets and 90 minutes in front of subdued fans on Court No1, which was marred by a string of controversial line calls.

The all-Russian clash saw favourite and wildcard Kuznetsova, the world no20 and former Eastbourne winner, frustrated by neat play and powerful shots from her compatriot.

In a very close contest, former US Open and French Open champion Kuznetsova struggled with the blustery conditions in the opening set to serve up three aces that were cancelled out by as double-faults.

Makarova moved into the lead by nicking the first set thanks to solid play and a string of powerful drives that stunned Kuznetsova.

The second set was better quality, with fewer mistakes and stronger serves. Kuznetsova chased the match and saved five out of seven break points, but the 22-year-old kept plugging away and toughed it out to register an emphatic result.

Ekaterina Makarova Svetlana Kuznetsova
Jun 27, 1985 Birthday Jun 07, 1988
24 years Age 22 years
Russia  Country  Russia
20 Current rank 100
2 (2008) Highest rank 35 (2009)
Right-handed Plays Right-handed

Azarenka wipes the floor with Watson

Lucie Safarova, News, Players, Results, WTA Players

heather-watsoneb2010defeatHeather Watson’s run at Devonshire Park ended with a finishing class from Belarussian rising star Victoria Azarenka, crashing 6-1 6-1 in 59 minutes.

The Guersney 18-year-old had breezed through three qualifying rounds to set up a 2nd Round clash against the world no15, only to be outplayed from the start.

Azarenka, who seems destined to be a regular top 10 ace, dominated play on Centre Court in a one-sided affair.

Watson, who secured a wildcard for Wimbledon on the strength of her qualifying results at Eastbourne, had impressed in her opening round contest to stun Canada’s world no48 Aleksandra Wozniak but ran out of steam against the talented Azarenka.

Regular visitor Kim Clijsters raced into the quarter-finals on her first event on grass for four seasons by destroying Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova 6-1, 6-0.

In the battle of Eastbourne favourites it was Australian Sam Stosur, fresh from her 2010 French Open final, who took the honours against Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova to register a 6-3 3-6 6-4 success.

Ladies – Wednesday 16 June 2010

2013 AEGON International, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, Lucie Safarova, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, Players, Sam Stosur, Sorana Cirstea, Svetlana Kuznetsova

2010 AEGON International

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

elena-baltachaBally blasts past Zheng

Elena Baltacha, the battling British no1 and wildcard, served up another shock victory over a top quality Chinese opponent at Devonshire Park in dramatic drama.

The Scot was expected to only be playing for pride, but bemused Jie Zheng in the opening set by running away with an emphatic 6-2 opening set.

Zheng came out fighting for a quarter-final place and turned on the style to wipe the floor with the well-supported Brit nicknamed ‘Bally’.

The decisive set saw a ding-dong contest fall in favour of Bally and then towards the petite but powerful Chinese ace. Helped on with some brave shots, a handful of unforced errors and the vocal crowd on Court No2, Bally edged victory for an sensational 6-2 1-6 6-3 triumph.

There were other topsy-turvy matches, with strong Aussie Sam Stosur – a recent runner-up at Roland Garros – pushed to the limits in the opening match of the day on Centre Court against Daniela Hantuchova.

Stosur’s trademark kick serve worked well in the opening set, but she was unable to flex her muscles against such a wily opponent and double faulted to lose the second set.

With long-legged Hantuchova playing as brightly as her fashionable orange outfit, and Stosur appearing exhausted after her exploits in Paris, the final set could have gone either way.

But no3 seed Stosur stepped up a gear and hit a number of powerdrives to tilt the scales and register a tense 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 success in just under two hours helped by 13 aces.

Stosur, a semi-finalist at Eastbourne 2007, said: “We’ve had some close matches and I’ve played quite well here so far. The more matches I get on grass the better I feel, so I hope this year I can do the best I’ve ever done on grass.”

In stark contrast, former world no1 and Eastbourne 2005 champion Kim Clijsters was in total control on Centre Court for a second successive day to rapidly make mincemeat out of lacklustre Lucie Safarova 6-1 6-0 in 39 whirlwind minutes.

Clijsters, the no5 seed, showed no sign of not being match fit following her foot injury that kept the Belgian ace out of the 2010 French Open and admitted: “Victory was good, quick and perfect but I’ve always liked playing on grass.

“Today was even better than yesterday and that’s a good sign. I’m playing good tennis and that’s the most important thing for me.”

Marion Bartoli, a former Wimbledon runner-up and regular at Eastbourne, had a fight on her hands to survive against impressive Hungarian Agnes Szavay and register a gritty 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Bartoli, the no8 seed, was slow off the starting blocks and looked likely to dumped out after falling behind 3-1 in the second set. But in a game of cat and mouse, the French ace kept her nerve to bounce back. She is in her fourth successive quarter-final at Devonshire Park, and is aiming to surpass her hat-trick of semi-final finishes.

The noise from Belarussian Victoria Azarenka on Court No1 was the most entertaining aspect for fans, as she outplayed British qualifier Heather Watson without any troubles to cruise home 6-1 6-1.

Watson’s progress at the event means that the Guersney-based youngster, the 2009 US Open Junior champion, climbed into the world’s top 250 for the first time in her short career on the WTA Tour. This was her first foray into the second round of a main draw.

My coach watched her match yesterday, she’s a very good player and moves very well. It was a difficult match, we had tough rallies and I’m happy the way I handled it.

– Victoria Azarenka

Russian wildcard Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 Eastbourne champion, fought back from match point in the second set to see off glamorous Romanian Sorana Cirstea in a marathon 150 minutes 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(4).

Kuznetsova arrived at Eastbourne having been dumped out of the French Open and dropping out of the world’s top 10 for the first time in four years. But the former US Open champion had played with nerves of steel to stutter into the quarter-finals against the odds to defy critics.

France’s fashionista Aravane Rezai, who claimed the scalp of defending Eastbourne champion Caroline Wozniacki in the previous round, had to wave the white flag and concede with a right wrist injury after trailing 6-2 3-0 to Spaniard Maria-Jose Martínez-Sanchez.

In the all-Russian battle, in-form qualifier Ekaterina Makarova surprisingly romped home against Nadia Petrova – a regular at Eastbourne and former finalist – with a stunning 6-2 6-0 success.

Matches played

Sam Stosur AUS 6-3 3-6 6-4 Daniela Hantuchova SVK
Heather Watson GBR 1-6 1-6 Victoria Azarenka BLR
Marion Bartoli FRA 3-6 6-4 6-4 Agnes Szavay HUN
Kim Clijsters BEL 6-1 6-0 Lucie Safarova CZE
Sorana Cirstea ROU 6-4 6-7(6) 6-7(4) Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS
Nadia Petrova RUS 2-6 0-6 Ekatrina Makarova RUS
M-J. Martinez Sanchez 6-2 3-0 ret. Aravane Rezai FRA
Jie Zheng CHN 2-6 6-1 3-6 Elena Baltacha GBR