Peer Wins in Three in Eastbourne, Henin, Mauresmo in Action TodayPosted on June 20, 2007
EASTBOURNE, Great Britain - The draw for the second round at the International Women's Open in Eastbourne was completed on Tuesday and all three of the seeds in action on day 2 made it safely past the first hurdle. It was also a good day for the British contingent at the $600,000, Tier II event as Elena Baltacha and Katie O'Brien battled past their opening-round opponents to take their place in the round of 16.
Shahar Peer, the tournament's No.6 seed, has been one of the outstanding performers of the 2007 season, but the young Israeli had to summon all her battling qualities to negotiate a tough opening-round clash with qualifier Elena Likhovtseva. Peer's only previous appearance on the British south coast resulted in a tame first-round exit to Nathalie Dechy 12 months ago, although when she rattled off the first set in quick-fire fashion she looked all set to erase this memory with her 29th win of the year.
The start of the second set saw a dip in Peer's form and Likhovtseva capitalized to the full; snatching the second set, before racing to a 4-0 lead in the decider. However, from this point Peer produced a stunning comeback, reeling off six straight games to book her place in the next round with an epic 62 57 64 victory. Standing in-between the world No.16 and a place in the quarterfinals will be Japanese qualifier Aiko Nakamura, who defeated gifted Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai, 61 64.
Marion Bartoli was the next highest seed to take to the court on Day 2 of the tournament and she looked in sparkling form at the Wimbledon tune-up event, racing past Italy's Tathiana Garbin in just 69 minutes. The two players are separated by just three ranking spots, but it was the No.8 seeded Frenchwoman who settled the quicker of the two players onto the slick grass courts of the Devonshire Park International Tennis Centre, notching up her first career victory over Garbin with a 62 63 win.
Austria's Sybille Bammer was not originally among the eight seeds this week, but after Li Na's late withdrawal because of a right rib injury she was elevated into the final seeded position in the draw. The 27-year-old from Linz was making her first appearance in Eastbourne, but she showed no trace of nerves as she wrapped up an impressive 62 63 win over Maria Kirilenko of Russia.
Three British players will line-up for the round of 16 at the International Women's Open for the first time since 1991, after Baltacha and O'Brien followed-up Melanie South's victory on Monday with memorable first-round triumphs. Baltacha was forced to recover from a 4-2 final set deficit against domestic rival Anne Keothavong before winning a dramatic encounter 62 26 76(5), while O'Brien scored a highly-credible 75 63 win over talented Russian teenager Vasilisa Bardina. Baltacha and O'Brien have been rewarded for their performances with a pair of mouthwatering clashes against Nicole Vaidisova and Elena Dementieva respectively.
The Top 3 seeds in Eastbourne will all get their challenges underway on Wednesday and each of them will come up against a player who triumphed in Tuesday afternoon's round of matches. Top seed Justine Henin will do battle with up and coming Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwanska - who overcame lucky loser Jill Craybas, 62 57 60. Amélie Mauresmo faces a similarly tricky opening-round examination, pitting her wits against the attack minded Italian Mara Santangelo - a 76(3) 63 conqueror of Ai Sugiyama. Finally out on Court 1 Nadia Petrova will face off against Dechy after the Frenchwoman's 64 26 63 opening-round defeat of Akiko Morigami. (WTA)