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Briefs from Eastbourne: Radwanska falls as Wozniacki wins

Caroline Wozniacki prepares to strike.
by Stuart Fraser
Tuesday 17 June 2014

Caroline Wozniacki gets her grass-court campaign off to a winning start in Eastbourne, while world No.4 Agnieszka Radwanska stumbles at the first hurdle for the third year in succession. Wimbledon.com reports...

Major headlines

Caroline Wozniacki lit up a gloomy Devonshire Park with her beaming smile after the Dane picked up a hard-fought victory in a tough AEGON International opener against Samantha Stosur on Monday.

The satisfaction for Wozniacki was clearly evident as she picked up just her second win in two months with a 7-5 6-4 victory over Stosur in her first match of the grass-court season.

Although Stosur was a break up in the first set at 5-3 and also at 2-0 in the second, the Australian was let down by too many errors at pivotal moments against the ever-steady Wozniacki, who feels she should have performed much better on grass than three fourth-round appearances at Wimbledon from 2009 to 2011.

“I think my game suits the grass better than the results I have done at Wimbledon in the past,” said Wozniacki. “I actually feel like I could do better.

“I have won here, I have won Junior Wimbledon, I have won a lot of things on grass. I really enjoy it, so hopefully sooner rather than later it will show up at Wimbledon too."

Wozniacki is feeling refreshed and recharged for what lies ahead over the next three weeks after a recent break in Miami with Serena Williams, which helped her get over her disappointing French Open first-round exit, as well as her recent split with fiancé Rory McIlroy.

“[Miami] was a lot of fun,” said Wozniacki. “Serena and I had a good time with some of our other friends. It was nice to get away a little bit and then come back and feel recharged.  I came back home and I worked hard every day for five hours a day.”

Wozniacki faces another tough match next up against Sloane Stephens on Wednesday after the American beat Caroline Garcia 6-2 6-4, with the French rising star failing to convert any of the five break points she had in the match.

Elena Vesnina opened the defence of her title with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Shuai Peng, while No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber beat Alison Riske 7-6(6), 6-4.

In the men’s draw, Bernard Tomic set up a second-round clash with top seed Richard Gasquet but only after the Australian managed to overcome the frustration garnered by the noise from a PA system on an adjacent court and beat Kazakhstan’s Andrey Golubev 6-4 6-4.

Tomic said: “I was playing and the calls from Court 1 were coming in. I thought half the time it was a let. I think my opponent even stopped a couple of times. It was very difficult.

“I didn't know what was going on until I addressed the umpire and he managed to turn down Court 1's speaker system, because it was tough to play when you were hearing calls in the back.”

British wild card Dan Evans often raises his game for the big occasion but not this time as he suffered a tame 6-2 6-3 exit to German qualifier Tobias Kamke. Evans has a wild card for Wimbledon but plans to take a break following The Championships to try and heal a nagging knee injury.

Fellow Brit Kyle Edmund was also knocked out as he lost 7-6(5) 6-3 to Sam Querrey. The American edged a tight first set, although Edmund later had break points in the second set but could not convert as Querrey fired down a succession of powerful serves.

Jeremy Chardy upset big-serving Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 6-4 in just 65 minutes, while last years runner-up Gilles Simon opened with a 7-6(2) 6-4 victory over Australian qualifier Chris Guccione.

Biggest upset

Some may argue it was not a surprise to see Agnieszka Radwanska suffer a first-round exit in Eastbourne for the third consecutive year but going by ranking and experience, the top seed’s defeat to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was certainly upset of the day as the Russian world No. 26 won 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4) in two hours and 22 minutes.

In a match that was featured plenty of attacking tennis, with both hitting a high amount of winners, Pavlyuchenkova overpowered Radwanska to claim a confidence-boosting victory after only practising twice following her second-round retirement at Roland Garros due to back problems.

Best match

Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, coached by his mother Klaudiya, had a tumultuous battle with Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin, who is coached by wife Anastasia, before eventually coming through 7-6(6) 6-7(7) 6-3 in two hours and 38 minutes, which was the longest match of the day.

They said

“The first time I found out about the news, all I could think about is the match we played here in Eastbourne against each other.  Every time you saw her on the court, you don't have to look at the score. It doesn't matter what [was on] the scoreboard. She was there on every point. She was such a fighter." – Victoria Azarenka on the fighting spirit of Elena Baltacha, who sadly passed away in May following a battle with liver cancer.

“I love to play beach volleyball. I get this little sports bra or, you know, some shorts. You dive in the sand and it’s fun." - Jelena Jankovic on how she keeps active when not on the tennis court.

“I'm looking for a run in any tournament at the minute. Otherwise I'm going to be dropping like a stone come September.” – Britain’s Dan Evans as honest as ever on his world ranking prospects.

Spotted

After a busy week in his new job as the tournament director for the AEGON Championships at Queen’s Club, Ross Hutchins was shaking off the rust on the practice court in Eastbourne as he practised three times on Monday, including a mid-afternoon hit with Richard Gasquet.

Best tweet

Tuesday’s action

In what will be her first match since Indian Wells in March and just her second since the Australian Open, Azarenka makes her long-awaited return from a foot injury when she faces Camila Giorgi.

2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova takes on Czech compatriot Lucie Safarova, while British wild cards Heather Watson, Johanna Konta and James Ward are all in action.


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