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

Svetlana Kuznetsova

2013 AEGON International, Svetlana Kuznetsova
svetlana-kuznetsovaAge
27 (27/07/1985)
Birthplace:
St. Petersburg, Russia
Residence
Dubai, UAE
Height
5′ 8 1/2″ (1.74 m)
Weight
161 lbs. (73 kg)
Plays
Right-handed
Turned Pro
2000

Of all the players currently playing on the circuit, Svetlana Kuznetsova is one of the most decorated in both Singles and Doubles.

As well as having lifted four Grand Slam trophies (two in Singles and two in Doubles), the Russian ace also has 20 singles titles to her credit.

In 2002 she won her first two WTA titles – Helsinki and Bali – and aged 19 was crowned 2004 US Open champion by beating compatriot Elena Dementieva in the final.

She reached another Grand Slam final, the 2006 French Open, but was defeated by Justine Henin. In 2007 the Belgian rained on Kuznetsova’s parade yet again, this time preventing her from lifting the US Open title for a second time. A

After that final she climbed to world no2, her highest ever position to date, and won her second Grand Slam crown by defeating Dinara Safina in 2009 to triumph at Roland Garros.

McHale set to fill Williams’ shoes

Caroline Wozniacki, Marion Bartoli, News, Svetlana Kuznetsova, WTA Players

Christina McHale 2012Christina McHale, widely tipped as the American to fill the void soon to be left by Serena and Venus Williams, is hoping to hone her skills ahead of the Olympic Tennis stage at Eastbourne.

McHale, 19, is expected to crack the world’s top 10 over the next few seasons on the WTA Tour and has already claimed scalps of the leading players over the past year.

The American teenager recently beat 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, added to victories over Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, France’s Marion Bartoli and Russian ace Svetlana Kuznetsova.

McHale admitted that she was fast becoming a victim of her own success and said:

“Now everyone knows my game, because when you’re ranked everyone comes at you – but I know their game too.

“But putting a ranking on myself is one of the things I don’t like to do. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing by continuing to work hard and competing then. I’m working hard to get to the next level, and my coaches know I have to get stronger.”

McHale cracked the top 200 in 2010 but has become stronger on the court since then by being more tactically evolved. McHale’s game plan has been successfully adjusted by her coach Jay Gooding, staying close to the baseline and adding killer shots when approaching the net.

“It feels like things are moving steadily. I mostly played well all last year, but I need to concentrate on what’s ahead of me and continue to improve.”

 

Zvonareva return in doubt

EXCLUSIVE, News, WTA Players

Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Vera-ZvonarevaHeadVera Zvonareva has had a torrid season with niggling injuries, but the Russian star’s participation at Eastbourne is in severe jeopardy due to a recurring shoulder injury.

The 27-year-old practised at Roland Garros but pulled out of the French Open on the opening day just ahead of her match, because of her right shoulder problem.

Although she is set to compete at Devonshire Park, it is highly unlikely she will risk her shoulder and is not entered in next week’s Birmingham grass court tournament.

The two-time 2010 Grand Slam finalist – runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open – said:

“My shoulder injury has still not healed. It is part of the sport, and I have to find a way to get back so I can compete without pain.

“I have had some issues with it before and it’s been bothering me at the end of last year and early this year as well.

“I have not seen a specialist and I have not made any decision about the injury, but it is definitely not the best year.”

And Zvonareva has played only eight tournaments this year ahead of Wimbledon, although kicked off the 2012 season in fine form by capturing the Australian Open Doubles title with compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova.

But she retired with a hip injury at the Pattaya Open and the Qatar Open in February, followed by desert flu and then she skipped Stuttgart in April due to her shoulder injury.

Although she bounced back to make a brief appearance in Madrid, Zvonareva missed Rome and then Roland Garros with the same shoulder problems.

 

To Russia with love for Kuznetsova

Agnieszka Radwanska, News, Players, Svetlana Kuznetsova

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd in Paris

Svetlana Kuznetsova 2012FrenchOpenSvetlana Kuznetsova, who accounted for former Eastbourne winner Agnieszka Radwanska at the French Open, is back in business.

The Russian, who captured the 2009 Roland Garros title, overwhelmed the world no3 with aplomb.

Kuznetsova explained that the sudden upsurge in her game this season has been down to returning to train in Russia from her base in Spain:

“It was the right thing for my soul and to my feelings inside by coming back to Moscow to train.

“Changing my tennis from Spanish ways to another way was wrong for me. I had great coaches, I appreciated everybody a lot and they brought a lot to me.

“But now I need something else. I need a little bit back, my spin game. Now I try to play more forehands and I try to dictate, I play more speed.

“This is the game I was playing when I won 2004 US Open and the 2009 French Open. I have some advantages, which I had not been using.”

Russian roulette for Kuznetsova

Ekaterina Makarova, Laura Robson, Nadia Petrova, News, Players, Svetlana Kuznetsova, WTA Players

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

svetlana-kuznetsovaSvetlana Kuznetsova, twice a Grand Slam champion, could miss out on an Olympic Tennis berth.

Those world ranked at singles within the top 56, on both the ATP and WTA Tours, on 11 June 2012 are set to automatically qualify for a place in the Olympic Tennis main draw.

However, under the current IOC rules no nation is permitted more than four players at singles.

This is would prove to be problematic for the tennis-mad nation of Russia as they currently have seven women in the world’s top 56.

The Eastbourne favourites of Kuznetsova, Ekaterina Makarova and Nadia Petrova could each miss out on a shot at an Olympic medal for Russia unless they dramatically improve their world ranking.

Even taking into account the ITF’s wildcards, the four player rule would prevent Kuznetsova from competing.

Maria Sharapova, the Russian no1, admitted: “Growing up in Russia it was all about being an Olympian, especially the Winter Games, and tennis was not a big sport back then. Now tennis has become extremely popular in Russia.”

The Czech Republic are another nation who will be a victim of their own success on the WTA Tour, with five leading players vying for the four allocated berths at Olympics Singles.

Meanwhile, hosts Great Britain will be relying on wildcard entries for the Ladies Singles Competition as not even teenage sensation Laura Robson would automatically qualify for the Olympics.

 

Magical Makarova in seventh heaven

Agnieszka Radwanska, Ekaterina Makarova, News, Players, Sam Stosur, Svetlana Kuznetsova, WTA Players

Makarova wins 2010 Eastbourne Tennis final2010 AEGON International final

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Ice-cool Ekaterina Makarova became the first qualifier to ever claim the Eastbourne event, after winning seven matches on the trot.

The Russian world no100 stormed to her maiden career title without dropping a set all week, and sealed success with a battling 7-6 (5)  6-4 victory over Victoria Azarenka in 112 minutes.

But in the opening exchanges candyfloss pink-kitted Belarussian ace Azarenka looked to end the giant-killer’s emphatic run by racing to an opening set 3-0 lead.

The 22-year-old, playing in traditional Wimbledon white, then got some advice from her coach after the stuttering start to bounce back in style and edge the tiebreak against the world no15.

After high-pitched shrieker Azarenka sped into an early 2-1 lead in the next set, the 20-year-old part-based in Arizona and Paris, seemed to be struggling with a knee injury so called for her coach.

After the enforced break, Makarova immediately broke Azarenka’s serve to level matters at 2-2 and then went for broke to seal the set and the title to become the first unseeded Devonshire Park winner since Chanda Rubin’s 2002 triumph.

And Makarova will climb up the world rankings after her run of wins on grass, especially as prior to Eastbourne she had not registered back-to-back main draw matches this season.

The rising Russian star steamrolled to the final, including stunning victories over twice grand slam winner and compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova and recent French Open runner-up Sam Stosur of Australia.

Makarova wins 2010 EastbourneMakarova, playing in her third career final, said:

“I started very good today and made no mistakes, but then I got a bit nervous and she came back, but I threw this from my mind and played point by point.

“I’m in shock right now, especially that I didn’t lose a set. This is just unbelievable to me, I cannot believe that I did it.

“I can’t understand yet that I’ve won. There was no secret to the success, my secret has been my great coach – the best!

“I was eating every day pasta in the same restaurant, so maybe that’s the reason! But I also like the grass and I’ve really enjoyed the week.”

Azarenka, who saw off two former Eastbourne champions – Kim Clijsters and Agnieszka Radwanska – to reach the final, would not expand on her injury and explained:

“It’s my problem, I’ll keep it to myself. I still have to treat it and I don’t want to put it out there but it’s not a big thing.”

 

Ladies – Thursday 17 June 2010

Ekaterina Makarova, Marion Bartoli, News, Players, Svetlana Kuznetsova, WTA Players

2010 AEGON International

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Marion-Bartoli Eastbourne 2010Battling Bartoli takes thriller

Bartoli defeated Martinez-Sanchez 5-7 6-4 7-6(5)

French ace Marion Bartoli scraped her way into a fourth successive Eastbourne semi-final despite being outplayed by the impressive Spaniard in a marathon match.

Marie-Jose Martinez-Sanchez was quickest to the ball and thundered nine aces in the opening set, but Bartoli’s swift footwork and steely determination took the first set to a tight conclusion.

But Martinez-Sanchez seemed to run out of steam in the second set as the Bartoli started racing towards the net and force errors. With matters levelled, it was anyone’s match but Bartoli took the early initiative to carve out an early lead.

Martinez-Sanchez was equal to everything thrown at her in the decisive set, and bounced back with a further four aces to force a tiebreak.

Bartoli sped away into a 4-1 advantage but was soon pegged back and it was a close contest, but former Wimbledon runner-up Bartoli used her guile and experience to seal a fantastic victory and another chance to make the final at Devonshire Park.

Marion Bartoli M-J Martinez-Sanchez
Oct 02, 1984 Birthday Aug 12, 1982
25 years Age 27 years
France  Country  Spain
12 Current rank 23
9 (2008) Highest rank 19 (2010)
Right-handed Plays Right-handed

Sam Stosur 2010 EB

All steam ahead for stuttering Stosur

Stosur defeated Baltacha 6-7(5) 6-1 6-0

Powerful Sam Stosur was slow off the blocks in a boring battle on Centre Court’s opening match of the day, but bounced back to wipe the floor with British no1 Elena Baltacha.

The Scot exceeded her expectations at Devonshire Park with back-to-back wins over top quality Chinese opponents to reach her first Eastbourne quarter-final, and looked likely to stun French Open runner-up Stosur.

After Baltacha nicked the first set on the tiebreak, Stosur turned on the style to humble her opponent with powerful serves and steady backhand winners.

The tough Aussie steamed into her second semi-final at Devonshire Park, dictating the pace of each point. But the polite crowd seemed more enthusiastic towards sleeping in the sun after popping Champagne corks than supporting Baltacha in the battle of black-kitted muscle women.

Sam Stosur   Elena Baltacha
Mar 30, 1984 Birthday Aug 14, 1983
26 years Age 26 years
Australia  Country  Great Britain
7 Current rank 62
7 (2010) Highest rank 59 (2010)
Right-handed Plays Right-handed

Victoria Azarenka EB 2010Azarenka arrives to call the big shots

Azarenka defeated Clijsters 7-6(6) 6-4

Brilliant Belarussian Victoria Azarenka continued to turn the form books on their head but outgunning and out-shrieking fans favourite Kim Clijsters in straight sets.

It was a wondrous win for Azarenka in the Centre Court thriller, having to dig deep and stay composed for the most crucial points to bravely battle past the US Open champion and former Eastbourne winner.

Azarenka fluffled chances to seal the opening set, hindered by the blustery conditions, but deservedly won the tense tiebreak in a marathon 62 minute opening set.

Clijsters bounced back to her best to reel off a seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead, with a tremendous serve followed by a powerful cross-court forehand winner, and then 4-2.

However Azarenka played beyond her years to steadily steal big points and somehow level matters, thanks to hitting two double-faults from under pressure Clijsters.

The unseeded Belarussian held her nerve to edge ahead, leaving Clijsters to serve to stay in the tournament. But Clijsters, willed on by the crowd, completely choked and hit three forehand shots into the net to gift Ararenka her first Eastbourne semi-final appearance.

I’m very happy to have won, despite the windy conditions. I’m playing well here on grass, and it was a good decision to play here after having to withdraw for the last two years. I’ll take each match as it comes before Wimbledon

– Azarenka

 
Victoria Azarenka Kim Clijsters
Jul 31, 1989 Birthday Jun 08, 1983
20 years Age 27 years
Belarus  Country  Belgium
15 Current rank 9
6 (2010) Highest rank 1 (2006)
Right-handed Plays Right-handed

Tennis - AEGON International - Day Three - EastbourneMakarova lines up title ambition

Makarova defeated Kuznetsova 6-4 7-5

Qualifier Ekaterina Makarova ended Svetlana Kuznetsova’s impressive run in straight sets and 90 minutes in front of subdued fans on Court No1, which was marred by a string of controversial line calls.

The all-Russian clash saw favourite and wildcard Kuznetsova, the world no20 and former Eastbourne winner, frustrated by neat play and powerful shots from her compatriot.

In a very close contest, former US Open and French Open champion Kuznetsova struggled with the blustery conditions in the opening set to serve up three aces that were cancelled out by as double-faults.

Makarova moved into the lead by nicking the first set thanks to solid play and a string of powerful drives that stunned Kuznetsova.

The second set was better quality, with fewer mistakes and stronger serves. Kuznetsova chased the match and saved five out of seven break points, but the 22-year-old kept plugging away and toughed it out to register an emphatic result.

Ekaterina Makarova Svetlana Kuznetsova
Jun 27, 1985 Birthday Jun 07, 1988
24 years Age 22 years
Russia  Country  Russia
20 Current rank 100
2 (2008) Highest rank 35 (2009)
Right-handed Plays Right-handed

Ladies – Wednesday 16 June 2010

2013 AEGON International, Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, Lucie Safarova, Marion Bartoli, Nadia Petrova, Players, Sam Stosur, Sorana Cirstea, Svetlana Kuznetsova

2010 AEGON International

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

elena-baltachaBally blasts past Zheng

Elena Baltacha, the battling British no1 and wildcard, served up another shock victory over a top quality Chinese opponent at Devonshire Park in dramatic drama.

The Scot was expected to only be playing for pride, but bemused Jie Zheng in the opening set by running away with an emphatic 6-2 opening set.

Zheng came out fighting for a quarter-final place and turned on the style to wipe the floor with the well-supported Brit nicknamed ‘Bally’.

The decisive set saw a ding-dong contest fall in favour of Bally and then towards the petite but powerful Chinese ace. Helped on with some brave shots, a handful of unforced errors and the vocal crowd on Court No2, Bally edged victory for an sensational 6-2 1-6 6-3 triumph.

There were other topsy-turvy matches, with strong Aussie Sam Stosur – a recent runner-up at Roland Garros – pushed to the limits in the opening match of the day on Centre Court against Daniela Hantuchova.

Stosur’s trademark kick serve worked well in the opening set, but she was unable to flex her muscles against such a wily opponent and double faulted to lose the second set.

With long-legged Hantuchova playing as brightly as her fashionable orange outfit, and Stosur appearing exhausted after her exploits in Paris, the final set could have gone either way.

But no3 seed Stosur stepped up a gear and hit a number of powerdrives to tilt the scales and register a tense 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 success in just under two hours helped by 13 aces.

Stosur, a semi-finalist at Eastbourne 2007, said: “We’ve had some close matches and I’ve played quite well here so far. The more matches I get on grass the better I feel, so I hope this year I can do the best I’ve ever done on grass.”

In stark contrast, former world no1 and Eastbourne 2005 champion Kim Clijsters was in total control on Centre Court for a second successive day to rapidly make mincemeat out of lacklustre Lucie Safarova 6-1 6-0 in 39 whirlwind minutes.

Clijsters, the no5 seed, showed no sign of not being match fit following her foot injury that kept the Belgian ace out of the 2010 French Open and admitted: “Victory was good, quick and perfect but I’ve always liked playing on grass.

“Today was even better than yesterday and that’s a good sign. I’m playing good tennis and that’s the most important thing for me.”

Marion Bartoli, a former Wimbledon runner-up and regular at Eastbourne, had a fight on her hands to survive against impressive Hungarian Agnes Szavay and register a gritty 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Bartoli, the no8 seed, was slow off the starting blocks and looked likely to dumped out after falling behind 3-1 in the second set. But in a game of cat and mouse, the French ace kept her nerve to bounce back. She is in her fourth successive quarter-final at Devonshire Park, and is aiming to surpass her hat-trick of semi-final finishes.

The noise from Belarussian Victoria Azarenka on Court No1 was the most entertaining aspect for fans, as she outplayed British qualifier Heather Watson without any troubles to cruise home 6-1 6-1.

Watson’s progress at the event means that the Guersney-based youngster, the 2009 US Open Junior champion, climbed into the world’s top 250 for the first time in her short career on the WTA Tour. This was her first foray into the second round of a main draw.

My coach watched her match yesterday, she’s a very good player and moves very well. It was a difficult match, we had tough rallies and I’m happy the way I handled it.

– Victoria Azarenka

Russian wildcard Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 Eastbourne champion, fought back from match point in the second set to see off glamorous Romanian Sorana Cirstea in a marathon 150 minutes 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(4).

Kuznetsova arrived at Eastbourne having been dumped out of the French Open and dropping out of the world’s top 10 for the first time in four years. But the former US Open champion had played with nerves of steel to stutter into the quarter-finals against the odds to defy critics.

France’s fashionista Aravane Rezai, who claimed the scalp of defending Eastbourne champion Caroline Wozniacki in the previous round, had to wave the white flag and concede with a right wrist injury after trailing 6-2 3-0 to Spaniard Maria-Jose Martínez-Sanchez.

In the all-Russian battle, in-form qualifier Ekaterina Makarova surprisingly romped home against Nadia Petrova – a regular at Eastbourne and former finalist – with a stunning 6-2 6-0 success.

Matches played

Sam Stosur AUS 6-3 3-6 6-4 Daniela Hantuchova SVK
Heather Watson GBR 1-6 1-6 Victoria Azarenka BLR
Marion Bartoli FRA 3-6 6-4 6-4 Agnes Szavay HUN
Kim Clijsters BEL 6-1 6-0 Lucie Safarova CZE
Sorana Cirstea ROU 6-4 6-7(6) 6-7(4) Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS
Nadia Petrova RUS 2-6 0-6 Ekatrina Makarova RUS
M-J. Martinez Sanchez 6-2 3-0 ret. Aravane Rezai FRA
Jie Zheng CHN 2-6 6-1 3-6 Elena Baltacha GBR

 

 

Ladies – Tuesday 15 June 2010

Caroline Wozniacki, Ekaterina Makarova, Flavia Pennetta, Li Na, Nadia Petrova, News, Players, Sorana Cirstea, Svetlana Kuznetsova, WTA Players, Yanina Wickmayer

2010 AEGON International

By Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd

Caroline Wozniacki 2010Rezai delivers KO punch to Woz

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki became the first casualty in a day of shock opening round exit for many of the big guns, beaten 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 by Aravane Rezai.

The 19-year-old Dane found the blustery conditions on the opening Centre Court match almost as tricky as Rezai (pictured left) who glittered in her striking silver kit.

But top seed Wozniacki lost her composure at 4-4 to gift the French ace the opening set. And after Rezai called for her coach after taking the lead, Wozniacki raised her game to comfortably reel off the second set in style despite querying a number of line calls with the umpire.

Rezai upped the tempo from the start of the decisive set, and served 10 aces overall to grab victory with her second match point.

She tried to take the ball early and hit every shot. I’d like to have got some more matches here, but I just need to keep my head up and play some practice matches to prepare for Wimbledon.

– Caroline Wozniacki

Aggy Radwanska loses at 2010 EBShock drop for Radwanska

Another former Eastbourne champion, no4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, made a shock exit in the opening round.

The Pole, who won at Devonshire Park in 2008, faced Victoria Azarenka in the first match of the day on Court No1 and after losing a tight opening set on the tiebreak lost all heart and form.

The part American-based and part Paris-based Belarussian upped her game to attack Radwanska and steamroll to a 7-6, 6-1 success.

Kim ClijstersClijsters cleans up

With two former champions knocked out so early in the day, the 2005 Eastbourne winner Kim Clijsters was next up on court. However, the battling Belgian was menacing from the off against 20-year-old Fed Cup team-mate Yanina Wickmayer and stormed to a 6-1, 6-1 victory, much to the delight of the sparse Centre Court crowd.

Clijsters, whose previous match on grass was her 2006 Wimbledon semi-final defeat, ran away with the first set in 19 minutes but took 35 minutes to seal the second set.

She said: “From the beginning on I was very aggressive and really trying to go for the lines a lot, but Yanina wasn’t playing at her best.”

Tuesday’s round-up

Nadia Petrova, a popular regular at Eastbourne, looked likely to suffer a swift exit on the outside courts against Croatian qualifier Karolina Sprem.

After a slow start and staring defeat in the face, the strong Russian rallied back and with the support of a vocal crowd took Sprem to a decisive third set tiebreak.

Petrova, who has a fantastic record at Devonshire Park, sealed success 7-4 in the tiebreak to register a 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 victory.

And two other Russians booked their places in the next round. Qualifier Ekaterina Makarova was stunning on grass with her serve and volley tactics to see off Italian no6 seed Flavia Pennetta 7-6, 6-1.

Then 2004 Eastbourne champion Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Alisa Kleybanova in a topsy-turvy all Russian encounter 4-6 7-5 6-2.

Newly-crowned French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, the no2 seed, looked jaded on grass after her exploits on the Paris clay. Pretty Romanian Sorana Cirstea took full advantage to give the Italian the runaround and registered an impressive 7-5, 6-3 win.

Israeli no1 Shahar Peer, who is fighting to break into the world’s top 10 for the first time, continued her woeful string of results at Eastbourne with a shockingly poor performance after zooming past Jie Zheng in the opening set. But Zheng bounced back with aplomb and a change of tactics to record a worthy 1-6 6-1 6-3 triumph.

Rare British victories were the order of the day. Guernsey-based Heather Watson got the ball rolling by scything past Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak in straight sets 6-3 6-2, which means Watson will break into the world’s top 250 for the first time.

And British no1 Elena Baltacha, a wildcard entry, was gifted a second round slot after Chinese ace Li Na retired in the final match of the day on Centre Court despite winning the first set tiebreak.

Matches played

11:30   V.Azarenka defeated A.Radwanska 7-6 6-1
11:30   A.Rezai defeated C.Wozniacki 6-4 1-6 6-3
12:45   N.Petrova defeated K.Sprem 2-6 7-5 7-6
12:45   E.Makarova defeated F.Pennetta 7-6 6-1
14:00   K.Clijsters defeated Y.Wickmayer 6-1 6-1
14:10   H.Watson defeated A.Wozniak 6-3 6-2
14:30   J.Zheng defeated S.Peer 1-6 6-1 6-3
15:00    S.Cirstea defeated F. Schiavone 7-5 6-3
16:00   S.Kuznetsova defeated A.Kleybanova 4-6 7-5 6-2
17:30    E.Baltacha defeated L.Na 6-7 retired