Vaidisova, Safarova Winners in Eastbourne

Posted on June 19, 2007

EASTBOURNE, Great Britain - Nicole Vaidisova, the tournament's No.5 seed, got her grass-court season up and running with a win on Monday, defeating Samantha Stosur in the first round of the International Women's Open. Only two other singles matches took place on day 1 of the $600,000, Tier II event and these saw Lucie Safarova and British hope Melanie South progress into the second round.

Czech star Vaidisova was made to work hard for her first-round victory, toiling in the windy conditions for almost two hours before finally overcoming the tenacious Stosur. The match was Vaidisova's first at the Devonshire Park International Tennis Centre since an opening-round exit two years ago and when she dropped the first set, another premature exit looked on the cards. However, the 18-year-old rallied well to turn the match around and notch up her fifth career win over Stosur, with a 36 64 64 triumph.

Her compatriot Lucie Safarova also struggled through her opening round clash, requiring two tie-break sets to overcome Germany's Anna-Lena Groenefeld, 76(0) 76(5). The 20-year-old Czech starlet is making her debut in Eastbourne this week and she will be delighted to have got her grass-court campaign off to a winning start. Safarova is a player not lacking in grass court pedigree - having achieved a runner-up finish two year's ago at the Wimbledon tune-up event in 's-Hertogenbosch - but she was pushed to the limit by the 22-year-old from Nordhorn, before finally taking her place in the next round after a 90-minute battle out on Court 1.

Monday's final singles match certainly gave the British spectators on centre court something to celebrate, as wildcard entrant South recovered from a humbling first-set experience to defeat former world No.8 Alicia Molik in a final set tie-break. The 21-year-old South hails from nearby Surrey, but after dropping the opening set to her fellow wildcard in under half an hour, it looked like she would be making the journey home sooner than expected. However, South displayed tremendous character to take the second set, before securing a famous victory on a tie-break in the decider. The 16 63 76(3) win was the young Briton's maiden victory in Eastbourne and it will give her a timely lift with Wimbledon less than a week away.

It was also a good day for Great Britain in the qualifying event, with two of the four qualifying spots being secured by home grown players. Elena Baltacha put in an impressive performance to dismiss Julia Schruff 61 61, while Katie O'Brien overcame a second set wobble to record a notable 76(4) 26 62 triumph over Jill Craybas. The other two qualifiers were Elena Likhovtseva and Aiko Nakamura, who recorded straight-set wins over Jarmila Gajdosova and Vera Dushevina respectively.

The doubles competition also got underway on the British south coast on Monday, with three first-round matches taking to the court. Former Wimbledon doubles champion Ai Sugiyama and her partner Dushevina were one of the winning teams, brushing aside the challenge of Eva Birnerova and Groenefeld, 62 64. Another pair to progress in the bottom half of the draw was Gajdosova and Akiko Morigami, while in the top half Laura Granville and Vladimira Uhlirova also proceeded into the quarterfinals. (WTA)