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.

 

 

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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