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.

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

Kirilenko shows cutting edge

2013 AEGON International, Maria Kirilenko, News, Players, WTA Players
By Xavier Harley-Rudd
maria_kirilenkoMaria Kirilenko beat Serbian Bojana Jovanovski in their first ever encounter on the WTA circuit to progress to the 2nd Round at Eastbourne today.

The blonde Russian, seeded no10 for Wimbledon, made a mountain out of the opening set but breezed through the second set to register a 7-6 6-1 success.

Kirilenko, who has recently climbed the world rankings to live up to the long-term hype of being one of the rising stars from Russia, combined her natural finesse with a power game but played conservatively before snatching the first set 7-5 on the tiebreak.

With the lead there was no stopping the 26-year-old, who continued her fabulous form to follow on from a set of stunning performances at Roland Garros that propelled her into the world’s top 10 for the first time.

Jovanovski, the world no40, was totally outclassed in a rapid second set with the Russian no6 seed vying to make Eastbourne her second crown this season and took her win-loss record for the year to 28-10.

Capturing this tournament title poses a massive opportunity for Kirilenko to finally live up to the great expectations that have long been weighed on her shoulders.

Errani withdrawal promotes Stosur

2013 AEGON International, Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, EXCLUSIVE, Li Na, Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, Petra Kvitova, Players, Sam Stosur, Sara Errani, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Tamira Paszek, Yaroslava Shvedova

Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Sam Stosur Sam Stosur has been elevated to the no8 seeding as Italian Sara Errani withdrew from Eastbourne on Thursday afternoon.

Errani, who reached the semi-finals at the French Open but only picked up a single game against eventual champion Serena Williams, is suffering from a foot strain and an abductor strain.

The Aussie ace, who only opted for late wildcards at the grass court tournaments in Birmingham and Eastbourne instead of practice.

Her trademark kick serve is exposed to daze and confuse opponents, with the rest of the seeded players probably breathing a sigh of relief that they won’t have to face her in the opening round.

And with an incredible line-up for this year’s pre-Wimbledon tournament at Eastbourne, it is probably the best place to watch grass court tennis outside of The Championships at SW19.

Six former champions – Agnieszka Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki, Marion Bartoli, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Tamira Paszek and Ekatrina Makarova – face stiff competition from the world’s leading ladies.

German Anglique Kerber, who let five match points slip in last year’s final, will be amongst the favourites to be crowned 2013 AEGON International champion.

Petra Kvitova, the Czech Republic’s 2011 Wimbledon winner, has the ability to go all the way on grass whereas top 10 ace Chinese no1 Li Na does not have the style of game particularly suited to grass.

However, grass court experts Stosur and Serbian star Ana Ivanovic will be relishing the opportunity of competing against the top players ahead of Wimbledon, although neither are likely to lift the crown on 22 June 2013.

There are an intriguing trio of Russians also in with a chance of making the final. Maria Kirilenko will be joined by relative veteran Nadia Petrova on their respective hunt for glory.

Players to watch, but who won’t be crowned 2013 Eastbourne champion, include British youngsters Laura Robson and Heather Watson.

America’s rising star Sloane Stephens and Kazakhstani’s Yaroslava Shvedova have withdrawn from the event.

Seeds are:

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

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

Maria Kirilenko

2013 AEGON International, Maria Kirilenko
Kirilenko, MariaKirilenko, Maria 
Birthplace:
Moscow, Russia
Residence
Moscow, Russia
Height
5′ 9″ (1.74 m)
Weight
132 lbs. (60 kg)
Plays
Right-handed
Turned Pro
2001 

Maria Kirilenko took part in her first WTA tournament in 2002, but burst onto the scene in 2003 – the season that she won her first title (in Peking) and broke into the world’s top 30.

She secured another title in 2007, but the following year was when things really took off for her, when she lifted three more singles trophies in Estoril, Barcelona and Seoul.

She also climbed to number 18 in the WTA rankings in 2008, her then highest ever position.

The 2010 season saw her best performance in a Grand Slam, when she reached the Australian Open quarter-finals.

However, her greatest successes have been in doubles, where she was won titles including the Australian Open alongside Belarussian Victoria Azarenka.

2009 AEGON International – Pre-tournament news

Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Kirilenko, News, Players, WTA Players

2009 AEGON International | 13-20 June

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

ana-ivanovicspeaksoutAiling Ivanovic doubles up

Ana Ivanovic is set to make her maiden appearance at Devonshire Park this year in both the Singles and the Doubles.

The Serbian star has been given a wildcard into the Eastbourne Doubles draw and will partner German Sabine Lisicki, world ranked no180 in Doubles.

Ivanovic is currently unranked at Doubles as she has only played once at Doubles on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour since the 2008 campaign.

Yet the 21-year-old once reached a career-high Doubles ranking of no50 in September 2006, after played tournaments with Russian Maria Kirilenko.

And Ivanovic slipped out of world’s top 10 to no13 following her tame 4th Round exit as a defending champion at Roland Garros.

She skipped the 2008 Eastbourne event due to a combination of injury and exhaustion following her French Open victory, which propelled her to world no1.

But has long been touted as a future Wimbledon champion because Ivanovic’s game is suited to grass. And she surprised even herself with a grand slam success on the clay courts of Roland Garros in 2008.

Ivanovic’s best finish at Wimbledon has been a semi-final spot, although if she can capture the 2009 AEGON International at Devonshire Park will be a force to reckoned with at SW19. And having appointed a new coach, the popular player has looked sharper, fitter, stronger and more confident.

She enthused: “I’m looking forward to playing in Eastbourne, it’s a very peaceful setting.

“It looks like the perfect place to prepare for Wimbledon. It’s also a chance to win a prestigious title, I know that the tournament has great history.”

But not all the top players opt for further match practice so close to Wimbledon, particularly as the clay court season has only just ended and Birmingham’s Priory Club takes place the week before Eastbourne.

The magnificent seven sign up

2009 AEGON International | 13-20 June

AEGON InternationalEntrants for the 2009 AEGON International were initially revealed with seven talents boasting an excellent pedigree and each have a real chance of winning the tournament.

Three teenagers, two Russians and two Serbians, are pencilled in to play at Devonshire Park this year.

Polish ace Agnieszka Radwanska makes it a hat-trick of appearances at Eastbourne and defends her 2008 crown. Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki are the other talented teenagers to enter, and have both recently climbed into the world’s top 10 with seven Sony Ericsson WTA Tour titles between them since their Devonshire Park debuts.

The formidable Russian duo of Elena Dementieva and Vera Zvonareva are due to return to Eastbourne. Both have been in red-hot form, regularly collecting 2009 singles titles on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour but fluffed their chances at Devonshire Park last year to make early exits.

Zvonareva was named in May 2009 as a ‘Promoter of Gender Equality’ by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to became the fifth ambassador of the United Nations.

Serbia’s popular pair of Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic are also planning to play at Eastbourne according to their respective coaches.

Beauty Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion, only missed making her debut at Devonshire Park because of her sensational exploits at capturing the grand slam in Paris beforehand.

While Jankovic, who made a dismal star to the year, is back to her best with confidence much higher after winning the inaugural Andalucia Tennis Experience in Marbella, Spain.

“I’m looking forward to playing in Eastbourne. It looks like the perfect place to prepare for Wimbledon”

– Ana Ivanovic