Hungry Hampton has recipe for success

2013 AEGON International, Agnieszka Radwanska, Klara Zakopalova, Lucie Safarova, News, Players, Sam Stosur, WTA Players
By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
lucie safarova quarter-finalsLucie Safarova missed out on a second WTA Tour semi-final spot on the trot, upset by battling American qualifier Jamie Hampton in three sets on Thursday.
The world no41 bounced back from losing the opening set, when she was slipping and sliding around the No1 Court, but a gutsy display earned her a 3-6 7-6 6-4 success.
Initially the Czech ace’s thunderous forehand with formidable top spin was the real difference between the players, but once gutsy Hampton read her opponent’s tactics then the tide turned in an intriguing clash.
Hampton, who will move into the world’s top 30 next week courtesy of her incredible exploits at Eastbourne, made it back-to-back victories over Safarova after her impressive win at last month’s French Open.

Hungry Hampton had come through three qualifying matches and two main draw rounds with aplomb, having caused a sensation shock to dismiss top seed and world no4 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the 1st Round.

But the 23-year-old Hampton was initially troubled by the high bouncing shots from Safarova that resulted in a set of unforced errors and was staring at defeat going into the second set tiebreak.

Hampton confidently took the game to the Czech, storming to a 7-1 tiebreak success and maintained the momentum going into the final set.

Hampton said: “Last year’s Wimbledon was my first match on grass, and everyone told me that I would have a ton of fun on grass – it turns out everyone was right!”

Safarova arrived at Eastbourne in tip-top form, having carved her way to the Nurnberg semi-final but suffering a shock reversal to Romanian Simona Halep.

She had impressed on grass, following up her win over compatriot Klara Zakopalova to then upset Australian wildcard Sam Stosur, only to fail to fend off the challenge of Hampton in her fifth shot at an Eastbourne title.

Whether history will repeat itself at Devonshire Park with a qualifier being crowned the ladies champion for a second season on the trot remains a question that only Hampton can answer.

Six of the best from Safarova

2013 AEGON International, Lucie Safarova, News, Players, Sam Stosur, Su-Wei Hsieh, WTA Players
By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Lucie SafarovaLucie Safarova made it six career victories over Australian wildcard Sam Stosur on Court 1 with a straight set success in 102 entertaining minutes.
The Czech ace only fired one ace in her comprehensive 7-6 6-3 triumph but was not always in command.
Former US Open champion Stosur, who suffered her sixth defeat in eight WTA Tour matches against the left hander, began confidently and racing into a 5-2 lead.
But then Safarova notched up a gear to pile the pressure on Stosur with some solid shots from the baseline and chasing every ball as though her life depended on it. And this tactic paid dividends, reeling off the next three games to level at 5-5.
Safarova forced a tiebreak and sealed that set 7-5 with controlled tennis to leave Stosur visibly fuming at making silly errors.
Stosur’s normally solid serve and and fierce forehand were both jittery, handing Safarova a perfect opportunity to book a 3rd Round berth.
Safarova held her serve immediately after breaking Stosur’s serve in the eighth game, and appears to be a force to be reckoned with this season at Devonshire Park.
American Jamie Hampton is next up for Safarova. The German-born qualifier saw off Taipei’s Su-Wei Hseih 6-4 7-6, running away with the tiebreak 7-2.

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

Stosur prepared to bounce back

2013 AEGON International, Players, Sam Stosur

 

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

sam stosur 1Sam Stosur has set herself a mission at Eastbourne of causing some shock results in her determined to return to the world’s top 10.

The industrious Australian has only slipped out of the elite world ranking following a disappointing run at the 2013 French Open, coupled with recent injuries keeping her off the circuit.

But Stosur’s experience for winning titles – both at Singles and Doubles – coupled with her aggressive style of play and her infamous signature kick serve should cause problems for opponents during the grass season.

She only opted for wildcard entries at both Birmingham and Eastbourne at the very last minute having contemplated just practicing ahead of Wimbledon.

And although she will not be seeded at the 2013 AEGON International she truly does possess all the necessary weapons to cause havoc in the draw, although is unlikely to get further than the semi-finals. Yet her progress will be dependent on the draw as this year’s tournament has attracted the usual array of leading ladies.

But Stosur, troubled by a calf injury during the gruelling clay court season, is determined to get back on track both in terms of long-term fitness and world ranking.

As a Grand Slam champion at Singles, Ladies Doubles and Mixed Doubles, Stosur will biting at the chomp to make an impression at Devonshire Park ahead of her shot at making an impact at The Championships.

Stosur explained: “The way that I play is an aggressive style, fast and explosive. I try to get on the point as quickly as possible, and my overall work along with my coach puts it all into place.

“When I was very young, probably 10, I had a coach that taught me the correct technique to hit the serve the way that I hit it. And as I got older my serves got better, so I have the basis of everything that I need each time in my serve.

“I have the same routine before each match and for few years I have used a sports psychologist. I have learned what works for me to mentally get ready for a match, to get over a loss or to handle a big win.

“The mental side of things is important at this level because everyone can hit the ball pretty well, so I believe that what can really make the difference between winning and losing comes down to handling things mentally.

sam stosur eastbourne 2011“But moving from clay to grass I find that my ankles and joints are a little bit sore because of that gripping on the grass.

“And I have to be ready to adapt as quickly as possible, because on grass the ball doesn’t bounce so high – but as the years go on I try and do whatever I can before playing too much on that surface.”

Stosur will no doubt be seeking to play plenty of matches at Birmingham’s AEGON Classic in preparation for her return to Devonshire Park, having missed Eastbourne – arguably the world’s friendliest grass court tournament – last year to compete in Holland.

But with such an array of talent from the world’s top 10 vying for glory at Eastbourne, it is extremely doubtful that Stosur will go to SW19 having played too much tennis on grass. Although the battling Australian ace can never be discounted, and Devonshire Park has a history of unexpected champions.

Subdued Stosur selects return

EXCLUSIVE, News, Players, Sam Stosur, WTA Players

Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Samantha Stosur of Australia serves duriSam Stosur, who will drop out of the world’s top 10 for the first time since 2011 coming into Eastbourne, has made entering the 2013 AEGON International priority over training.

The Australian has been granted a wildcard entry to Devonshire Park, the traditional warm-up event for Wimbledon, and is relieved to see the gruelling clay court season come to a halt.

The current world no9 exited the 2013 French Open to former world no1 Jelena Jankovic in the 3rd Round and in recent seasons competed in the grass court tournaments at Eastbourne (2011) and ‘s-Hertogenbosch (2012) ahead of Wimbledon.

Stosur, who has not been past the 2nd Round at SW19 since 2009, refused to finalise her schedule until she weighed up all her options and was no longer involved in the French Open Ladies Doubles with the London-based Italian Francesca Schiavone.

But she is desperate to end her string of indifference results and is seeking to gain momentum, having overcome a calf injury that disrupted her build-up to Roland Garros. The Australian ace has also been granted a wildcard entry at the less prestigious but nevertheless testing tournament at Birmingham, the AEGON Classic, which starts next Monday.

The 2011 US Open winner’s career has not taken off as expected since her maiden Grand Slam success.

Stosur said: “I decided last year that I’d maybe try something a little bit different ahead of preparing for Wimbledon.

“I have assessed the time I’ve got to get stuck into the practice and my aim is to try and have a good Wimbledon.

“I am starting to feel better about my tennis after having a very stop-start first five months of the year. I guess the clay court season is over for the moment and then I head onto the grass, and we’ll see what happens there.

“It’s a challenge going onto the grass for me, it’s another opportunity to turn my form around.”

Stosur serves dangerous warning

News, Players, Sam Stosur, WTA Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

sam stosur serveSam Stosur, whose powerful kick serve suits fast surfaces, will be aiming to return back to the world’s elite by making progress at Eastbourne.

The wildcard Australian, who only dropped out of the world’s top 10 following her 3rd Round reversal to Jelena Jankovic, has got the all-round power game to reel off victims on grass and immediately climb back up the rankings.

Former world no1 Jankovic got revenge for her 2010 French Open defeat to Stosur three years later in Paris. However, the Serbian star made controversial comments when she exited the 2010 Roland Garros semi-finals.

Jankovic claimed at the time about Stosur: “To be honest, she kind of has like almost the game of a man – that’s what it feels like.

“When I look at how the men play she has kind of a similar kick serve, which not many women have. It’s a very heavy spin and then she runs around the forehand.”

Rising French star Kristina Mladenovic, beaten by Stosur in the 2nd Round at Roland Garros, said about her opponent: “She was serving just amazing, and I would say like a man today – really. She’s the only woman player able to hit that hard and that heavy with those conditions.”

Stosur retorted: “It’s just one of those things, I don’t take offence. It all depends how it’s said and the context of it. Sometimes in print it probably sounds more harsh than it actually was.

“Most of the time it’s a compliment. I’m able to hit a kick serve. If I can do something better than the rest of the girls then that’s something to be happy with.”

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

Sam Stosur

Players, Sam Stosur, WTA Players
Sam Stosur, headshotBirthplace:
Brisbane, Australia
Residence
Gold Coast, Australia
Height
5′ 7 3/4″ (1.72 m)
Weight
143 lbs. (65 kg)
Plays
Right-handed
Turned Pro
1999
Sam Stosur started playing tennis when she was eight years old, courtesy to a friend’s suggestion. Her WTA debut was also to be her first Grand Slam, the 2000 Australian Open.
However, it took four years to break into the world’s top 100 but once there she cracked the top 50 within 12 months.
She was initially considered to be a Doubles expert, having partnered American Lisa Raymond to clinch her first two Doubles titles on Tour in 2005 and adding the US Open crown the same year.
Yet Stosur is more focused on Singles tennis, having won the 2011 US Open with a memorable victory over American ace Serena Williams in the final.
She has been a top 10 fixture for years but following her 3rd Round exit at the 2013 French Open will be out of the top 10 for the first time since 2011, so keen to generate world ranking points during the short grass court season.

Ladies – Saturday 18 June 2011

Marion Bartoli, Petra Kvitova, Results, WTA Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

2011 AEGON International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne

bartoli2011championBattler Bartoli takes Eastbourne title

Unorthodox Marion Bartoli captured her first Eastbourne title, having never got pass the semi-finals before in four previous attempts, with a hard-fought 6-1 4-6 7-5 success over Petra Kvitova.

Kvitova impressed on her Eastbourne debut with a two tremendous fightbacks in a day but bowed out in an enthralling final to Bartoli. Battling Bartoli got off to a cracking start to thunder past traditional slow-starter Kvitova, breaking serve on the fourth game for a comfortable 3-1 lead.

The French ace, who impressed with a swift semi-final triumph over gutsy Australian Sam Stosur, played consistently and Kvitova made numerous unforced errors to surrender the opening set with just one game to her credit.

However, the second set was a different ball game with the world no8 starting to measure up to Bartoli’s powerful drives. But Bartoli broke Kvitova and held her serve for another 3-1 lead.

Rise from the dead

The Czech star looked dead and buried on Centre Court, finding the transition from this morning’s semi-final victory over injured Daniela Hantuchova on Court 1 too tricky initially.

Then Kvitova, the no5 seed, moved up a few gears to take the game to Bartoli with a string of impressive groundstrokes to outwit the clever two-hander and break back to level matters at 3-3. With Kvitova suddenly find her confidence to hit winners from all over the court, and no longer scared to dictate at the net, she broke in the 10th game to level matters with a 6-4 advantage.

The decisive set was neck and neck with neither player keen to relinquish the chance to claim a confidence-boasting title going into 2011 Wimbledon.

Games went with serve in a cagey affair, with Bartoli fending of! f break point to survive the scare and keep the result in the balance at 3-3. Kvitova let out a trademark joyous shriek after her neat dropshot gave her a 4-3 advantage.

With games going with serve at 5-5 it appeared that a tie-break would have to divide the pair of seeded players until Bartoli broke to lead 6-5 and served out for the title.

Kvitova kills off injured Hantuchova

Petra Kvitova bounced back from a stuttering start to overcome in-form Daniela Hantuchova (pictured) 7-6 4-2 when the Slovak star retired with a left abdominal injury.

The Czech ace was outplayed initially, losing the opening three games against rejuvenated Hantuchova, but gathered her nerves to work her way back into an intriguing tie.

With Hantuchova’s overpowering serve working to her advantage and a string of solid groundstrokes, Kvitova played a cagey game and fought back to trail 4-3 before the Slovak ace required a treatment break for an injury flare-up.

On her return the world no8 bounced back and did well to force a tie-break, but the pair were well matched and it took a marathon 11-9 result to hand Kvitova the opening set.

With Hantuchova’s movement fast deteriorating it came as no surprise that the no5 seed dominated play and dictated! from the baseline with occasion forays to the net to put away volleys and smashes.

Much to the disappointment of the enthusiastic Court 1 crowd, Hantuchova, playing her first back-to-back semi-finals for many years, had little choice but to wave the white flag and bow out graciously with her injury. Kvitova, the highest ranked player in the final four, will need to start well in this afternoon’s final if she is claim the Eastbourne title on her Devonshire Park debut.

Bartoi blasts past stuttering Stosur

Marion Bartoli reached her maiden Eastbourne final after a convincing 6-3 6-1 success over out-of-sorts Sam Stosur on a very blustery Centre Court, which affected the serving ability of the pair of seeds.

Bartoli bounced all over the court from the beginning and behaved like a prize-fighter throughout, swinging her racquet to practice shots at every opportunity. The unorthodox two-handed French ace was in formidable form to run away with the opening set,

Stosur uncharacteristically playing a defensive game and staying on the baseline. Bartoli moved through the gears in the second set, following a three minute break for a short shower to pass, and thundered drives from all corners to leave Stosur looking lost and unable to cope.

Although the crowd were desperate for a third set and very supportive of Stosur, the Australian simply could not find her rhythmn and appears lost to suffer a heavy defeat.

“Marion was hitting the ball very hard out there, and the conditions were worse than the other day – but it was just one of those things. I’ve had a great week overall and got some competitive matches on grass behind me to take to Wimbledon.

“I didn’t see Serena (Williams) play here but I think she came back too soon, she had a year out so we’ll see how she gets on next week”

– Sam Stosur

Finals Day preview: What to expect at Eastbourne

World no8 Petra Kvitova faces Slovak ace Daniela Hantuchova in the first semi-final showdown.

2010 Wimbledon semi-finalist Kvitova, the highest ranked player left, has impressed on her Devonshire Park debut and the Czech star possesses natural grass skills despite having never won a match on the surface prior to last year’s heroics at SW19.

The 21-year-old left-hander has a battle on her hands against world no25 Hantuchova, who is a rejuvenated player on her seventh visit to Eastbourne.

The 2004 Devonshire Park runner-up has registered impressive wins over French Open champion Li Na and American superstar Venus Williams to reach back-to-back singles semi-finals on the WTA Tour for the first time in four seasons.

Eastbourne regulars Sam Stosur and Marion Bartoli will battle it out for a place in the final for the first time on, and have high top form this season. World no10 Stosur stormed into her third semi-final this season, and saw off top seed Vera Zvonareva in the quarter-finals.

Unorthodox Bartoli is in her fifth successive semi-final at Devonshire Park, having bowed out graciously in the past four encounters. The French ace plays two-handed on both sides and arrived at Devonshire Park on a career-high ranking of world no9 following her heroics at Roland Garros.

Ladies – Friday 17 June 2011

Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Marion Bartoli, Petra Kvitova, WTA Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

2011 AEGON International at Eastbourne

Semi-final Preview: Kvitova vs Hantuchova

Czech star Petra Kvitova faces Daniela Hantuchova in their second showdown this season, having already dismissed the Slovak star on a hard court in the Federation Cup in their previous only meeting.

World no8 Kvitova is the highest ranked player remaining and has impressed on her Devonshire Park debut, which was expected after she showed her new-found silky grass skills by racing to the 2010 Wimbledon semi-finals despite having previously never won a match on the green stuff.

The 21-year-old left-hander has only recently broken into the world’s top 10, courtesy of four titles this year including her terrific run to claim the Madrid Open by defeating Vera Zvonareva, Li Na and in-form Victoria Azarenka.

Monaco-based world no25 Hantuchova, who burst onto the singles scene almost a decade ago before concentrating on doubles, is a rejuvenated player and seems set to keep on improving with a top 10 place her personal aim.

The 28-year-old returned to the top of her game with a shock success over top seed and ex-Eastbourne champion Caroline Wozniacki at 2010 Roland Garros, and followed this success with a powerful display at Birmingham to overwhelm Ana Ivanovic and finish runner-up on grass.

This is the seventh visit to Eastbourne for Hantuchova, who is keen to improve on her Devonshire Park runner-up slot in 2004, and she is hoping to face Sam Stosur in the final in order to avenge last year’s second defeat at Eastbourne.

Hantuchova is back to her best, reflected by this week’s victories over French Open champion Li Na and American superstar Venus Williams to reach back-to-back singles semi-finals on the WTA Tour for the first time in four seasons.

Hantuchova’s advantage is not just the fact that she has realms of experience and being unseeded faces no pressure, but that she has ironed out any flaws by becoming a major success at doubles and possesses an all-round game including exceptional serve and volley skills.

Semi-final Preview: Stosur vs Bartoli

Sam StosurSam Stosur and Marion Bartoli will meet for the first time on grass as both bid to capture their maiden title of the year, and in the devastating form they are both in this tie promises to be a firecracker of a face-off.

The gutsy Australian claims that grass is not her favourite surface, but having spent most of her career winning at doubles her net and volley skills are second to none that gives her a huge advantage.

World no10 Stosur stormed into the final four with aplomb, her third semi-final this season, and was only tested in her quarter-final tie against top seed Vera Zvonareva.

Marion BartoliSurprisingly Stosur has yet to claim a grass court title despite this being the 27-year-old’s third semi-final on the bounce at Eastbourne in five visits to the English south coast event.

Unorthodox Bartoli (right) plays two-handed on both sides and arrived at Devonshire Park on a career-high ranking of world no9 following her heroics at Roland Garros, where she became the first Frenchwoman since 2005 to reach the semi-final stage.

Battling Bartoli has been in emphatic form this season, having reached two finals and six semi-finals, but has tumbled in her previous four Eastbourne semi-finals encounters in as many years.