Dodig cleans up against rubbish Raonic

2013 AEGON International

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

MilosRaonicMilos Raonic’s Devonshire Park debut proved disastrous with Croatian Ivan Dodig sending the giant Canadian packing in 83 minutes on Wedneday.

Raonic, the top seed who only entered the tournament as a late wildcard last Thursday, was dismissed 6-2 7-6 – but put up a battle in the tiebreak that he lost 9-7.

Dogged Dodi, the world no54, thumped a dozen aces in the one-sided clash, and reeled off the opening set in 35 minutes.

The Canadian 22-year-old dropped his serve in the first game and was broken with ease in the seventh game, Dodig sealing the set with a breathtaking forehand volley winner that delighted the Centre Court crowd.

With neither player losing their serve in a more conservative second set, littered with aces, the ultimate tiebreak could have gone either way. Dodig double faulted to gift the no1 seed a golden opportunity to square the contest, but battled back and with a fierce backhand cross court winner made it 9-7 to storm into the 3rd Round.

World no15 Raonic admitted that his performance was way below par, and will be hoping that his recent blip on the ATP circuit does not continue with a poor showing at next week’s Wimbledon.

He explained: “I couldn’t have started in a worse way, missing four backhands to start the match.

“I had break chances but then lost my serve easily again. The defeat comes down on me because of things I didn’t do.

“I was trying to get a little bit closer and I had my chance in the tiebreak, but I don’t think I should let situations where I get two double faults from my opponent pass by and not win the tiebreak – that’s pretty bad.

“I really cant play much worse, so it’s only going to get better going into Wimbledon – which I think is positive.”

Raonic, who has recently appointed former ATP Tour world no3 Ivan Ljubicic on a trial basis as coach, said: “With Ivan we are trying to incorporate things and understanding that it’s not always going to work.

“It’s not about winning practice sets but about having a long-term goal. I have a way that I need to play if I want to achieve the things I want to achieve down the road, including breaking into the top 10.”

MILOS RAONIC

2013 AEGON International, Andreas Seppi, Fabio FOGNINI, Milos RAONIC, Players

milos raonic

Birthplace:
Podgorica, Montenegro
Residence
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Height
6′ 5″ (1.90 m)
Weight
198 lbs (90 kg)
Plays
Right-handed
Turned Pro
2008

The giant Canadian is arguably one of the most exciting prospects on the ATP World Tour with his thundering serve.

Having moved from Montenegro to Canada aged three, he perfected his game as child with a ball machine. This practice paid dividends as Raonic became just the third Canadian man in the Open Era to reach the 4th Round of a Grand Slam by excelling at the 2012 Australian Open..

He made it an incredible hat-trick of San Jose titles on the bounce in February 2013 to become the first player for almost 50 years to achieve such an impressive feat.

His style of play suit fast courts, where he relies on his height and reach to thunder down serves and put away overhead smashes.

Helped Canada reach their first Davis Cup semi-finals with victories over Italy’s Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi – Eastbourne regulars.

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.

 

Normal service resumes

Andy Roddick, Fabio FOGNINI

Roddick’s back by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Andy Roddick at the double

Double trouble: Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick, who only arrived at Devonshire Park courtesy of a last-gasp wildcard on the eve of the AEGON International, has waltzed into the final.

And apart from Friday’s quarter-final battle against wily Italian Fabio Fognini he has been hardly tested on his Eastbourne debut – and been handed some good fortune with two opponents retiring with injured backs against him.

Big server and American compatriot Sam Querrey retired after 24 minutes in their 1st round contest and brilliant Belgian Steve Darcis threw in the towel during their one-way semi-final clash that Roddick was easily winning.

Roddick arrived at Eastbourne on the back of his worse ever run on the ATP Tour, suffering six defeats on the bounce – partly due to a hamstring injury that sidelined him for three months.

On his return to the circuit he lost all three Round Robin matches in Dusseldorf and made immediate exits on the clay at the French Open then on the grass at Queen’s Club in London.

The 29-year-old, who chalked up his 600th win on the ATP Tour, will be aiming for his 31st Singles title on Saturday – his first final appearance since February 2011 when he beat Milos Raonic to claim the Memphis crown.

Roddick admitted:

There’s a lot of times when you make plans where you draw the perfect scenario and you draw up a script and it doesn’t work out – but this week has worked out.

“Regardless of what happens I will go into Wimbledon with some wins behind me and some confidence on a surface I’m very comfortable on – I got my game back a little bit this week.

“If you’d have asked me last week after I lost at Queen’s I was probably a lot more negative than I would be right now.

“I don’t know that I can play 26 events a year anymore or be on the road 45 weeks a year with my body the way it is, but fortunately for me Grand Slams are only two weeks long.”