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Notes from Eastbourne: Hampton running into form

Jamie Lee Hampton serves to Heather Watson during a second round match.
by Stuart Fraser at Devonshire Park
Thursday 20 June 2013

When the Wimbledon draw is made on Friday, Jamie Hampton is a name the seeds may want to avoid. The American qualifier further displayed her growing confidence on the grass as she progressed to the semi-finals of the AEGON International.

The 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-4, win for Hampton over Lucie Safarova guarantees her a ranking inside the top 30 this Monday but it comes just one week too late for a Wimbledon seeding. It’s unfortunate for her but also for the seeds who could face a tough test in the early rounds if they are drawn against the 23-year-old.

Hampton had been close to losing when Safarova served for the match in the second set but the Czech faltered and Hampton pounced. "I think that I'm playing good, solid tennis but I don't think I'm anywhere near my best,” said Hampton. “I think as a player, I’m developing as well. But I am playing good tennis."

Hampton will have to maintain her strong form if she is to have a shot against Caroline Wozniacki in the semi-finals. After a rough clay-court season, the Dane’s confidence is improving day by day as she picks up the wins, although she had to fight hard for a 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 victory over Ekaterina Makarova.

A run of nine games in a row for Wozniacki was particularly impressive, considering her concentration was interrupted during the second set by a foot fault call on her. Wozniacki had a lengthy exchange with the umpire in which she questioned whether the line judge even knew the foot fault rules.

“She said I went over the line with my heel and went down with my heel on the ground or something,” said Wozniacki. “It's kind of difficult to jump when your heel is pointing towards the net and you put your foot down all the way through. That's not possible.

“I know that I moved my foot a little bit, but it is allowed to be in the air or whatever you want to call it when you hit it. That's why I didn't quite understand why there was a foot fault there.”

Elena Vesnina had an excellent 7-6(4), 6-3 win over second seed Li Na and will play Yanina Wickmayer who also claimed a major scalp, beating sixth seed Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 1-6, 7-5.

Fernando Verdasco departed Devonshire Park an unhappy man as he went down 6-4, 7-6(6) to friend and former doubles partner Feliciano Lopez in foggy conditions which he felt were unplayable, although part of his frustration may have also come from the fact he had a point to take the second set and a 4-1 lead in the tiebreak.

“I feel that the conditions were not right to play even before the match started,” said Verdasco. “I told the umpire that the court was slippery and just in the warm-up that you don't even move to the sides. I could feel it when I was [playing] the volley.”

Lopez will be hoping to continue his strong serving – Verdasco told him during a warm embrace at the net after that he “served like an animal” – when he takes on Ivan Dodig, who had a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 win over the lacklustre Fabio Fognini.

Andreas Seppi, the 2011 champion and last year’s runner up, took a step towards reaching the final once again as he Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-2. The Italian plays second seed Gilles Simon, who beat Bernard Tomic 7-6 (8), 6-3.

There is a chance of British success in the men’s doubles as Colin Fleming and Jonny Marray beat Marcin Matkowski and Freddie Nielsen 3-6, 6-3, 11-9 to progress to the final, in which they will play top seeds Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares who knocked out Jamie Murray and John Peers 6-4, 6-4.

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