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.

Robson revels on Centre stage

2013 AEGON International, Laura Robson, News, Players, WTA Players

By Xavier Harley-Rudd

Laura RobsonLaura Robson brushed aside Ukrainian qualifier Yuliya Beygelzimer 6-3 6-2 on Tuesday to add to the Great British contingent succeeding at the traditional Wimbledon warm-up event.

Robson was rarely troubled and has grown into her game as well as her six foot frame since picking up the Mixed Doubles silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Now 19, five years since she took the limelight as the Junior Wimbledon Girls champion, Robson outclassed Beygelzimer with an array of shots that had the Centre Court crowd purring.

The Australian born left-hander improved her win-loss ratio to 4-4 for the season, which has lifted Robson to world no43 and has long been considered the future British star.

The Ukrainian, languishing at world no187, found Robson’s rip-roaring game far too tricky to suffer another straight sets defeat to the Brit in only their second encounter.

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

Robson opts to be a Brit special

Caroline Wozniacki, Laura Robson, News, Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Laura RobsonLaura Robson, the former Junior Wimbledon champion when aged 14, has hired Andy Murray’s former coach Miles Maclagan initally for the grass court season.

The 19-year-old, who parted from Croatian coach Zeliko Krajan last month, has a game that suits grass but is desperate to rise through the WTA Tour rankings this year.

She aims to soar through the world rankings if she can gain positive results at the two Wimbledon warm-up tournaments at Birmingham and Eastbourne before tackling SW19.

The world no37 is aware that Maclagan, a ex-Great Britain Davis Cup player, could become a permanent fixture but the grass court events are a trial run.

Maclagan coached fellow Scot Murray to his maiden Grand Slam final, the 2008 US Open in 2008, but the pair parted ways in 2010 following a highly successful 30 month partnership.

Maclagan explained: “Laura clearly has the mind for the big stadiums and to take on the big players. It’s a key ingredient in anyone who’s going to play well.

“To see a young player with a lot of firepower and the ability to take on the top players is exciting. We’re going to start out for a little period over the grass to see how things go.

“There’s a lot I need to learn about the women’s WTA Tour, but Laura isn’t someone that I’ve studied. I have watched her just in passing rather than studied her, so there is a lot about her game that I need to know.

“One thing I have learnt is that what we see from the outside is so often not the case. I’m pretty chilled, but if practice isn’t of a quality or standards aren’t there then I’m not so chilled!”

Robson has had an extremely disappointing season going into the grass court season, with seven 1st Round defeats, including a poor showing against former Eastbourne champion and ex-world no1 Caroline Wozniacki at the 2013 French Open.

Robson backs out

Caroline Wozniacki, Laura Robson, WTA Players

laurarobsonEB2012Laura Robson has surprisingly withdrawn from the Ladies Doubles event at the 2013 French Open due to a back injury.

However, the British no1 is very likely to still compete in the 2013 AEGON International in her bid to warm-up for a shot at Wimbledon – where she won the Junior Championship aged 14 in 2006.

Robson was blown away by former Eastbourne champion Caroline Wozniacki in the opening round 6-3 6-2 reversal at the French Open, who then was shocked by in the second round by Serbian Bojana Jovanovski.

Robson was due to compete in Doubles with ex-world no1 Doubles ace Lisa Raymond of the United States.

But the 21-year-old Brit was advised to rest her back and is due to immediately return to London to prepare for the grass court season in England.

Robson has pencilled in to compete in the AEGON Classic at Birmingham before returning to Devonshire Park for the AEGON International ahead of The Championships at SW19.

However, following her poor performance in Paris, Robson will be fully focused on returning to her best at Wimbledon so if her back injury up she may be cautious about playing in back-to-back events at Birmingham and Eastbourne – although much will depend on her progress at the AEGON Classic before deciding whether to give the AEGON International a miss.

Watson ends Brit interest in Paris

Laura Robson, WTA Players

heather-watsoneb2012Heather Watson became the last Brit to bow out of the 2013 French Open, and went one better than compatriots Elena Baltacha and Laura Robson by winning a set.

But the Guersney’s ace 6-4 2-6 6-4 defeat to Swiss star Stefanie Voegele in a rain delayed contest means that there are no British players in the 2nd Round at Roland Garros for the first time in six years.

But Watson, the British no2, was not too far away from being back to her best following a two-month layoff from the WTA Tour because of glandular fever.

The 21-year-old said: “I wanted more matches under my belt before Wimbledon, but I will just work from here and do stuff to get fit for the grass court season.

“I’m pleased with how I played, I was aggressive. There’s two main things for me, being ready for the next shot and getting ready.”

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.

2012 Ladies Singles – Wednesday’s Results

Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova, Laura Robson, Lucie Safarova, Marion Bartoli, Results, Tamira Paszek, WTA Players

2012 AEGON International

2nd Round

Heather Watson lost 6-7 1-6 to Lucie Safarova

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova won 7-5 3-6 6-4 v Christina McHale

Angelique Kerber won 6-3 6-2 v Chanelle Scheepers

Laura Robson lost 4-6 5-7 to Ekaterina Makarova

Tsvetana Pironkova won 6-0 4-6 6-4 v Stephanie Dubois

Marion Bartoli won 6-2 6-2 v Aleksandra Wozniak

Tamira Paszek won 6-4 3-6 6-1 v Daniela Hantuchova

Petra Cetkovska lost 1-6 6-1 2-6 to Klara Zakopalova

Makarova ends great Brit

Ekaterina Makarova, Laura Robson, Petra Kvitova

Ekaterina Makarova2012aegonLaura Robson, Britain’s great hope, put up a great fight before bowing out to Ekaterina Makarova – the 2010 Eastbourne winner and conqueror of Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

The Russian was in control on Court 1, but made hard work of dismissing the Devonshire Park debutant to register a 6-4 7-5 over the teenager.

Makarova’s strong serves and tight angle flat shots left plucky Robson chasing the match.

Robson, aged 18, admitted:

I played pretty well but she played extremely well, she’s definitely suited to the grass courts.

“I competed well, and there are still lots of things that can be improved. But in terms of where I was a few months ago, I think it’s a big improvement already.

“When she broke at the end of the second set, I just missed a few first serves and she took advantage of that.

“I’ve been trying for the last few months to work on movement and on my serve, both are improving.

“I’ve always thought that I could beat these girls, but I definitely have to bring my A game – I have to be really mentally ready for it.”laurarobsonEB2012

Robson hit two backhand errors at 2-2, missing out on two break points, and fluffed a forehand to concede the single break that proved decisive in the opening set.

But the second was a close run battle with Robson moving through the gears to show a typical British never say die attitude.

But a single below par service game by Robson proved costly. At 5-5 on Robson began with a double fault and nervously missed shots to falter without winning a point. The impressive Makarova serving out for a deserved victory.