Wozniacki reaches Eastbourne quarters after Kuznetsova win

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Progressing: Wozniacki.

Caroline Wozniacki has reached the quarter-finals of the Eastbourne International with a 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-1 win over fellow former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

– #Quiz360: WIN a membership at FitRepublik
– Down the line: Murray continues to raise his game ahead of Wimbledon
– #360view: Wimbledon draw will be crucial for Rafa Nadal

But 2014 Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard was facing a fitness battle ahead of the third Grand Slam event of the season next week after suffering an event-ending abdominal strain.

The ex-titleholders at Devonshire Park (Wozniacki, 2009 and Kuznetsova, 2004) were meeting for the 10th time, with second seed Wozniacki now leading the series 6-4. But the Dane lost her way in the opening set yesterday as she let a comfortable 5-2 lead slip.

Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam winner, seized the initiative, running off five of six games to force a tie-break after annulling a Wozniacki set point. The Russian then prevailed for the early lead after seizing six set points and converting with an ace on her fourth.

“Obviously you’re not too happy with yourself,” said Wozniacki. “But you just have to get yourself together and get back on the horse and try to win the second set.

“On grass, losing a set being up 5-1 is not ideal. She started playing better, she started returning deeper and she upped her game. I had a set point I didn’t take. Then all of a sudden I see myself being down in the tiebreaker. I don’t know what happened.” 

Wozniacki mounted a fightback in the second set and played carefully so as not blow a 5-1 lead in the final set. She will play a quarter-final against tenth seed Andrea Petkovic after the German defeated CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-4.

Belinda Bencic reached her second grass-court quarter-final of the summer, with the Swiss teenager advancing 6-4, 3-0 as Bouchard retired injured.

Bouchard, the seventh-seeded Canadian whose prospects for repeating her Wimbledon final of a year ago are looking exceedingly dim, lasted 54 minutes before calling for the trainer to treat an abdominal injury.

But she vowed: “I’m going to play (Wimbledon) no matter what, even if I’m on one leg. I’ll take a few days off from serving and give it a little break and see how it goes.”  Bencic will now face Britain’s Johanna Konta who put out Spanish 14th seed Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. 

Bouchard reached three Grand Slam semi-finals in 2014 but has now lost 11 of her last 13 matches in a slump dating back to mid-March.

In other results, ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska beat number eight Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-1 and Russian lucky loser Daria Gavrilova defeated Italian 13th seed Sara Errani 6-1, 5-7, 6-2.

Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova defeated last year’s Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-1 while American Sloane Stephens knocked out Briton Heather Watson 6-2, 6-3.

Most popular

Related Sections

Indian youngsters Yadlapalli and Nagal aiming for the top

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Role model: Sania Mirza turned professional in 2003 when she was just 16.

When Sania Mirza was growing up in Hyderabad, she played tennis on clay courts made of cow dung and she recalls how it was “unheard of” for a young girl to pick up a racquet and aspire to be a professional.

Since then, Mirza has gone on to make history for her country as a trailblazer for women’s tennis in India, reaching the highest rankings ever achieved by an Indian female in both singles, No27 and doubles, where she is currently ranked No1 in the world.

– #Quiz360: WIN a membership at FitRepublik
– Down the line: Murray continues to raise his game ahead of Wimbledon

– #360view: Wimbledon draw will be crucial for Rafa Nadal

Since the success days of Ramanathan Krishnan and his successor Vijay Amritraj, there has never really been a steady influx of Indian talent on the tennis tour but it is the likes of doubles stars Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, along with Mirza, who have carried the torch over the past two decades and who are inspiring today’s youth to take up the sport.

Two Indian youngsters, who owe a lot to these role models, were spotted on the outside courts at the French Open, fighting their way through the junior draw – Pranjala Yadlapalli in the girls’ event and Sumit Nagal in the boys’. 

The pair are the only two Indians ranked in the top 30 in the ITF world junior rankings and they paid tribute to the likes of Mirza and Bhupathi and the influence they’ve had on them. Yadlapalli, 16, has a few things in common with her idol Mirza: they both are from Hyderabad and just like Mirza had the support of GVK Group as sponsors early in her career, Yadlapalli has had them in her corner for the past two years.  

Sumit Nagal captured his first men’s Futures title in Hyderabad last week.

Yadlapalli peaked at No19 in the world junior rankings last month and was selected as one of five girls to join the ITF Touring Team which includes the most promising juniors from developing countries. As part of the team, Yadlapalli is competing in a series of European junior tournaments, including Roland Garros and Wimbledon, over the course of the summer. 

“If an Indian did that, being world No1, then that means that Indians have the capacity to do it. If you focus and do all the things the Europeans are doing then you can do it,” Yadlapalli told Sport360 at the French Open in Paris. “I think after Sania, it’s me who has been ranked this high. I want to do more and try to be world No1. 

“Here in Europe the competition is higher. I usually compete more in Asia so it’s different when I come to Europe. But Indian players have the potential to make it.”

Mirza acknowledges the role she’s played in getting more young girls involved in tennis.

“It’s not like how it was 22 years ago when I started. We used to play on courts made of cow dung,” said Mirza. “For a girl to pick up a tennis racquet at that point was unheard of and I never really had a role model in my life so I’m glad that they have someone who they can look up to and say ‘well if she’s done it then we can too’. 

“It’s a lot more common for kids and girls especially to pick up a tennis racquet and believe that it can be a profession. And I think that’s very good because our culture is a little different in that side of the world. So it’s great that sport is 
becoming a career option.”

Mahesh Bhupathi is one of the stars to inspire today's youth to take up the sport.

While Yadlapalli is based in India and is coached by Ilyas Ghouse, an Indian former player, Nagal is taking a different approach in his attempt to make it as a pro.

The 17-year-old is sponsored by Bhupathi, who advised him to move to Germany and Nagal is now based in Offenbach training at the Schuettler Waske Tennis-University.

Nagal just won the Grade 1 junior tournament in Offenbach and last week captured his first men’s Futures title in Hyderabad.

“I never really had a role model so I’m glad they have someone to look up to” – Mirza

The teenager believes tennis is now the second most popular sport in India, after cricket, but that it is difficult for him to find other players at his level to train with. “I don’t think I would have made it if I had stayed in India. Because no player has made it by training in India,” says Nagal. “Obviously there are older people who play at a good level, but at my age in India, there aren’t many I can practice with. 

“Mahesh Bhupathi has been sponsoring me and helping me from a young age. There was a selection in Delhi in 2008 and I was one of 15 kids that got picked. We went to Bangalore and trained there for two years. And from 2010 Mahesh has been taking care of me. It’s very nice of him. He’s helping me know  tennis, how tough it is, how professional players act. Not only on court, off court as well.”

16-year-old Pranjala Yadlapalli peaked at No19 in the world junior rankings last month.

While Mirza can see more youngsters taking up tennis, she believes there is still a lot that needs to be done. Most of the effort is done individually by former or current players through their academies or novel concepts like Armitraj’s Champions Tennis League, which gave Yadlapalli a chance to play alongside Sergi Bruguera and Alize Cornet in the Mumbai Tennis Masters team at the exhibition event.

“There are a lot of things that need improvement – facilities, training, coaches,” said Mirza. 

“I’m trying to help with my tennis academy but… there is a system that is lacking a bit in terms of trying to help kids understand what’s happening, what to do, what not to do. It’s kind of more of a trial and error right now. I try to help whenever I can and Mahesh tries to do what he can. But it’s not enough, we still need the association to do it.

“Tennis has grown a lot in India but by building a stadium we’re not going to produce players. We still need other things to fall into place. 

“Becoming a tennis player doesn’t just depend on having a tournament once every year. You have to have a system in place where people are taught.”

Most popular

Related Sections

Down the line: Murray continues to raise his game ahead of Wimbledon

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Class on grass: Andy Murray heads into Wimbledon in a rich vein of form.

Wimbledon is less than a week away and several players have already sent out strong signals of intent with some stellar grass performances over the past fortnight.

Andy Murray continues to impress on grass and his triumph at Queen’s Club last Sunday means he has now won four titles there, one Wimbledon crown and an Olympic gold medal all in England. 

– #Quiz360: WIN a membership at FitRepublik

– #360Snapshot: Today's latest sporting headlines
– #360view: Wimbledon draw will be crucial for Rafa Nadal

Murray has written the book on how to rise to the occasion at a home tournament and he should maybe loan it to the Australians; Sam Stosur, for one, could learn a thing or two from the Scot. 

The Wimbledon seedings will be announced tomorrow and since it’s the only major that doesn’t stick to the world rankings when it comes to seeding the players, it will be interesting to see what number Murray will get. 

If he is bumped up from his world No3 spot, he could avoid a semi-final with Novak Djokovic, the Serb fast becoming his grand slam nemesis. 

Rafael Nadal could benefit the most from the Wimbledon formula – which takes into account the points earned on grass in the preceding two years – especially with him ranked No10. His title win in Stuttgart on grass could help push him up to a 5-8 seeding. 

Here’s the winners and losers from the past week…

Thumbs up 
Roger Federer
 
The Swiss was two points away from losing in the first round to Philipp Kohlschreiber but still ended up winning an eighth title in Halle from 10 finals reached. It’s no wonder they have a street names after him there. The Swiss heads to Wimbledon as a real contender. 

Angelique Kerber
Considering how poorly she was performing from the Australian Open through to Miami – failing to win back-to-back matches in six consecutive events – Kerber’s rebound has been a remarkable one and her title win in Birmingham was her third at a Premier-level tournament in three months. 

Thumbs down
Eugenie Bouchard
World No12 Eugenie Bouchard has lost the opening match in seven events this year.

As she heads into Wimbledon, where she is defending runner-up points, Bouchard is on a four-match losing streak and has lost in 10 of her last 11. The Canadian is in real trouble and you can’t help but wonder if she, or anyone in her team, really has the solution.

Grigor Dimitrov
His title defence at Queen’s came to a halt in the second round and considering he’s defending semi-final points at Wimbledon, the Bulgarian must try to find his form on grass quickly.

Most popular

Related Sections