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Notes from Eastbourne: Wozniacki clears first hurdle

Caroline Wozniacki hits a volley during her match against Tamira Paszek.
by Stuart Fraser at Devonshire Park
Tuesday 18 June 2013

Wimbledon.com's thoughts on the action on the second of the Aegon International at the ATP and WTA event at Devonshire Park...

Having lost the opening match in four of her last five tournaments and with boyfriend Rory McIlroy having made a transatlantic dash to watch her at Devonshire Park, it is fair to say Caroline Wozniacki was under a bit of pressure ahead of her first-round match at the AEGON International.

In the end, just five hours after McIlroy had landed in the UK from Pennsylvania where he had taken part in the US Open, Wozniacki progressed with ease after Tamira Paszek retired down 6-2 2-2 with a left thigh injury. Perhaps it wasn’t the most ideal way to win a match but Wozniacki was delighted just to be back on the grass, the ideal tonic after a tough couple of months on the red stuff.

“I'm feeling great,” said Wozniacki. “I love the grass. It's so much fun to play on. The clay season is over, which I'm happy about.”

It was not much fun for world No.29 Paszek, though, as she left the court in tears following her injury, for which she will receive further scans before she makes a decision on playing at the All England Club. It is bad timing for the two-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist, who has a lot of ranking points to defend this month – her retirement in Eastbourne already ensures she will drop out of the top 50.

Wozniacki now faces Laura Robson in a rematch of their French Open first-round encounter, which the Dane won in straight sets, as the British 19-year-old beat qualifier Yuliya Beygelzimer 6-3 6-2 in an impressive 62-minute display for her first grass-court win this year. The work Robson has put in with temporary coach Miles Maclagan on her serve was clearly evident.

“I thought I served very well, which always helps, and that's something I have been working on a lot,” said Robson, who had scheduled evening babysitting duties with Cara Black’s one-year-old son Lachlan. “I've worked on it a lot in the last couple of weeks, and it was just a little bit better in Birmingham and a little bit better again today, and it's something that's just going to take time.”

World No.41 Jamie Hampton scored the upset of the day as she knocked out top seed and world No.4 Agnieszka Radwanska 7-6 (7-2) 6-2. In her first win over a top-five opponent, Hampton’s forehand and net play were in fine shape as she picked up her first win in five matches against Radwanska, who also lost in the first round in Eastbourne last year before going on to make the Wimbledon final.

Elena Baltacha’s 7-5 7-6(3) win over Kristyna Pliskova sees three British women in the second round of the AEGON International for just the second time since 1991. Having not lost a set in six matches on the grass, it is quite a turnaround for the 29-year-old after she considered retiring following foot surgery in the autumn of last year.

Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Li Na, Angelique Kerber and Samantha Stosur also progressed to the second round with comfortable straight-set victories.

Bernard Tomic took just over an hour to beat British wild card James Ward 6-3, 6-4. The Australian 20-year-old, who was watched by father John in the stands, has recovered from the right hamstring injury which forced him to retire from his first-round match at the French Open but admits it is still occasionally on the mind as he adapts to the grass.

France’s Julien Benneteau, who held a two set lead over Roger Federer in the third round at Wimbledon last year before losing in five, beat fifth seed Kevin Anderson 7-6 (7-4) 6-2, while Feliciano Lopez treated himself to a cake in the press centre after defeating Jarkko Nieminen 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-5).

Kyle Edmund, the 18-year-old British wild card, will face the toughest test of his career on day three as he takes on second seed Gilles Simon, who looked to be fine in practice today after limping off on Monday. Top seed Milos Raonic opens his campaign against Ivan Dodig, while highlights in the women’s draw include Robson vs Wozniacki, Kvitova vs Yanina Wickmayer, Baltacha vs Maria Kirilenko and Heather Watson vs Elena Vesnina.

Click here for live scores, statistics and draws from the Aegon International

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