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Old Jun 17th, 2012, 10:58 PM   #1
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Andrew's eyewitness reports & photos (+Thursday 14th June 2012)

AEGON CLASSIC (Edgbaston, Birmingham, England; grass; WTA International)
Contents

I don’t have time to finish my full point-by-point reports or post my photos until after Wimbledon, so for now, here’s a brief summary of each match for which a full report is forthcoming:

1. Tuesday 12th: First round: Hlaváčková v Krajíček
2. Tuesday 12th: First round: Robson v Min
3. Wednesday 13th: Second round: Eraković v Robson
4. Wednesday 13th: Second round: U.Radwańska v Lisicki
5. Wednesday 13th: Second round: Czink v Hantuchová
6. Thursday 14th: Third round: Falconi v U.Radwańska
7. Thursday 14th: Doubles: Kops-Jones/Spears v Hantuchová/Lisicki

I went home on Thursday night, because all my favourite players were out of the tournament, and I am a busy software-developer with a big deadline looming at the worst possible time in the tennis-calendar.


1. First round: Hlaváčková v Krajíček (Tuesday 12th June 2012)

- Michaëlla Krajíček [DF] lt. Andrea Hlaváčková, 2-6 7-6 (8/6) 0-4 retired (viral illness)

Krajíček was my third-favourite player in the tournament when it started. She’s a very pleasant player to watch, with a big serve, flairsome groundstrokes, and a willingness to go to the net. I’ve been a demi-fan of Krajíček since her quarter-final at Wimbledon 2007.

Hlaváčková played well, with some big serves and pinpoint groundstrokes of her own, but she just doesn’t inspire me as Krajíček does.

I didn’t expect much of Krajíček after she had knee-surgery in May. Apparently that went miraculously well, hence her early return to action.

Krajíček didn’t look in great shape physically, carrying a few extra pounds, and with strapping on her right knee. She certainly didn’t look happy on the court, taking two medical time-outs and moving gingerly by the end. I wasn’t surprised that she retired – although I was when I later learned that her reason for retirement wasn’t her knee.

The first set was one-sided until Hlaváčková served for it at 5-2, but a four-deuce struggle set the scene for a much more competitive second set, which went with serve until the tiebreak.

Hlaváčková had match-point at 1:0 6-6 6/5*, but Krajíček saved it sensationally: drawn to the net by a dropshot, she picked off Hlaváčková’s attempted pass with an off-backhand volley-winner.

Having already taken a medical time-out at 0:1 5-4*, Krajíček had a lengthy conversation with the trainer and a doctor after winning the second set. After that, I was on high alert for Krajíček’s retirement, which came when she went 0-4* down, by which time she was moving slowly and clearly suffering.


2. First round: Robson v Min (Tuesday 12th June 2012)

+ Laura Robson [DF] d. Grace Min [Q], 6-4 6-1

For the first set at least, this was high-quality tennis between two 18-year-olds who are trying to make their mark on the WTA Tour after successful junior careers. The match was played at a breakneck pace, in terms of both power and the time that they took between points.

Robson won the Girls’ Singles title as a 14-year-old at Wimbledon 2008, and, on grass at least, is still the most impressive player I know who was born in 1994 or later. She served amazingly well in this match, and has plenty of power on her groundstrokes too.

Min hit some impressive groundstroke-winners of her own, but these were few and far between, as Robson was just too good for Min, who fell apart in the second set.


3. Second round: Eraković v Robson (Wednesday 13th June 2012)

- Laura Robson [DF] lt. Marina Eraković, 4-6 6-3 4-6

A disappointing and frankly rather tedious match, though I like both girls. Robson was only a shadow of the impressive player that she was in the previous round: her lateral movement was poor, and she couldn’t put much pressure on Eraković’s service-games.

The first set was decided by a single break against Robson in the third game, who then looked in dire straits at 0:1 *1-1 15/40. She saved those break-points with an ace and a forehand winner, then seized the momentum to break for *3-1 and ultimately take the second set.

But Eraković raised her game at the start of the third set, and Robson double-faulted for 0-2*. She fought back to 2-2*, and had a couple of break-points to have led *3-2, but Eraković saved them with forehand winners, and went on to break Robson as she served to stay in the match at *4-5.


4. Second round: U.Radwańska v Lisicki (Wednesday 13th June 2012)

- SABINE LISICKI [2,EF] lt. Urszula Radwańska, 3-6 4-6

In terms of the style of play, this was the best match of the tournament, as both girls played some attractive all-court tennis with a very high level of skill.

Sadly, Sabine was ill during this match, and actually stopped in the middle of a game (0:1 0-1* 0/30*) to see the doctor. She looked dreadful throughout the match, and this translated into a catalogue of unforced errors, although she did hit some great shots too.

This loss was a major setback for Sabine, as she was the defending champion at Birmingham, and is now preparing to defend her Wimbledon semi-final on a five-match losing streak that stretches back to her retirement from Charleston with a left-ankle injury.


5. Second round: Czink v Hantuchová (Wednesday 13th June 2012)

- DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [3,EF] lt. Melina Czink, 5-7 6-7 (5/7)

This match was a farce. Originally scheduled sixth on Centre Court, it was moved to Court 4 after a rain-delay caused the prior match to start late. I decided to stay on Centre Court watching Sabine Lisicki open the defence of her title against Urszula Radwańska. When Sabine had finished losing, I went straight to Court 4 to find Daniela just starting the second set. I couldn’t get a seat due to the large crowd, so I had to watch what remained of the match leaning over a wall.

Daniela was playing her first match since Fed Cup in April, in which she aggravated a stress-fracture in her left foot. She led 5-3* in the second set, but after some good play by Czink, Daniela double-faulted to make it 5-5*, and a series of errors in the tiebreak sealed her fate.


6. Third round: Falconi v U.Radwańska (Thursday 14th June 2012)

- Urszula Radwańska lt. Irina Falconi, 5-7 3-6

I decided to report on this match because Urszula was my favourite player left in the singles after a disastrous Wednesday. She’s an attractive all-court player, but still has serious problems with controlling her emotions. She had been calm and professional against Sabine Lisicki the round before, but was upset by the conditions in which she was forced to play Falconi.

The outside courts were in a dreadful state after the rain earlier in the week. Court 2 was more like a sandpit than a grass-court; I could actually see sand flying off the ball. It was also very windy; every strong gust would blow a big cloud of sand across the courts.

Urszula frequently complained in an emotional tone of voice about having to play in such “ridiculous” conditions, especially after she fell over trying to reach one of Falconi’s many dropshots. She looked very frustrated, sometimes close to tears, while Falconi quietly got on with the match.


7. Doubles: First round: Kops-Jones/Spears v Hantuchová/Lisicki (Thursday 14th June 2012)

- Daniela Hantuchová [EF]/Sabine Lisicki [EF] lt. RAQUEL KOPS-JONES/ABIGAIL SPEARS, 0-6 3-6

How fitting that the only two members of my Eternal Fanship at Birmingham 2012 should have teamed up in the doubles! I had a wonderful time watching them hitting together on the near practice-court earlier in the day.

Sabine had struggled with illness in her singles-loss the day before, but on Thursday she looked much healthier and happier; she was even smiling when she was serving at 0-6 *0-1; she looked very pleased when she won that game.

The outside courts were in a dreadful state after the rain earlier in the week. They were more like sandpits than grass-courts; I could actually see sand flying off the ball. It was also very windy; every strong gust would blow a big cloud of sand across the courts.

Daniela and Sabine were playing doubles together for only the second time, and were beaten by an established team who simply played better together than my girls did, with a lot of winning volleys and smashes.

Later in the day, I saw Daniela practising with a couple of coaches. I was impressed by her dedication: I found her practising within an hour of her doubles-loss, and she didn’t leave for 55 minutes, the last few of which she spent serving in the rain after all the other players had left.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
__________________
My Eternal Fanship: 1. Monica Seles; 2. Мария Шарапова (‘Maria Sharapova’); 3. Daniela Hantuchová; 4. Jelena Dokić; 5. Iva Majoli; 6. Karina Habšudová; 7. Вера Звонарёва (‘Vera Zvonarëva’); 8. Nicole Vaidišová; 9. Анна Чакветадзе (‘Anna Chakvetadze’); 10. Lucie Šafářová; 11. Ирода Туляганова (‘Iroda Tulyaganova’); 12. Magdaléna Rybáriková; 13. Sabine Lisicki

Last edited by andrewbroad : Jun 21st, 2013 at 10:51 PM. Reason: edit Title
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