Bartoli, Seppi, Tursunov, Vinci Collect Pre-Wimbledon Grass Titles; X-Notes
Jittery two-handed Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli increased her Wimbledon betting line on Saturday when the No. 6 seed defeated No. 5-seeded Czech Petrra Kvitova 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 amidst windy conditions for the WTA Eastbourne title at the AEGON International in England. It was the first career grasscourt title for Bartoli and the sixth title of her career. She is 1-2 in finals in 2011 after losing at Indian Wells and Strasbourg.
Both players were also forced to play the semifinals on Saturday to make up for the rains. Bartoli trouncing No. 7 Sam Stosur 6-3, 6-1, and Kvitova advancing past one of the hottest grasscourt players of June when Daniela Hantuchova was forced to retire trailing 7-6(9), 4-2 with an abdominal strain, leaving her Wimbledon hopes in limbo.
“I think we were seven out of the Top 10 players plus Venus and Serena Williams here, so it was definitely a very hard task to win the tournament,” said Bartoli, who lost in the Wimbledon final in 2007. “It’s just great to come up with a win. Of course I would have been happier to finish in two sets, but Petra fought extremely well, and she deserved to come back. It could have gone either way, and in the end it went my way.”
In the men’s Eastburne final the unheralded Italian Andreas Seppi won his career-first ATP title, denying Serb Janko Tipsarevic a career-first title after a 7-6(5), 3-6, 5-3 (ret.) win. Tipsarevic retired one game away from the completion of the match. Earlier in the day in a rain make-up match, Seppi topped Russian Igor Kunitsyn in three sets.
Seppi improved to 1-1 in career ATP finals, while Tipsarevic, who has won nine career Challenger-level titles, fell to 0-4 in ATP finals.
Italy’s Roberta Vinci was another first-time grasscourt winner on Saturday, defeating unseeded former Top 5er Jelena Dokic 6-7(7), 6-3, 7-5 for the Unicef Open crown in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. Vinci won the Barcelona claycourt title earlier this year and improved to 5-1 in career finals.
“We are both 28 and have a lot of experience, but it was a final and with all of the conditions and pressure, it’s not easy to stay completely focused,” Vinci said. “But I like to play on grass. I play the slice and it’s perfect on grass. I also like volleying so I think that’s why I play well on grass. I’m tired and am playing on Monday at Wimbledon, but I’m happy — I just won a tournament!”
Vinci has never made it past the third round in four visits to the All England Club.
Dokic was also a winner earlier in the year at the tiny Kuala Lumpur event, and fell to 6-8 in career finals. On Monday when the new WTA Rankings are released she is projected to climb back into the Top 50 for the first time in seven years.
“I’m happy with my performance — I’ve had a good week,” the Australian resident said. “Today was difficult. Roberta played well and the circumstances were pretty hard. But that’s the way things go sometimes. I’m happy to have reached this far and I’m looking forward to Wimbledon.”
In the men’s final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Russian Dmitry Tursunov won his first ATP title in two years, defeating Ivan Dodig 6-3, 6-2. In that two-year span Tursunov has had three ankle surgeries. His most recent career title was also on grass in 2009, and he improved to 7-2 in career finals.
“I’ve had a lot of good results this year, but not on the ATP [level],” Tursunov said. “The start of the year was horrendous for me, in Australia I didn’t do very well and I definitely didn’t expect myself to be doing the way I’m doing right now. After being in tennis a long time now, I understand one week can be terrible and one week can be great.”
Dodig earlier this year won his first career title on home soil at the PBZ Zagreb Indoors.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
ATP Executive Chairman Adam Helfant is quitting at the end of the year but not giving any explanation besides “professional reasons.” During his tenure the ATP’s commercial revenue rose 65 percent and reserves are forecast to have increased by more than 1,100 percent. He also shortened the ATP calendar and brought in boo-coo sponsors…Sam Querrey is out of Wimbledon with a right elbow injury…Andy Roddick can’t be happy about his former coach Jimmy Connors talking to the AP (at length) about how he has little chance to win a Wimbledon title: “He’s going to have to come up with something spectacular, and I don’t know if he can do that now. The other guys have kind of gotten on to him a bit. The big serve seems to be coming back a lot more, and the guys are getting the ball in play. They’ve figured out a way. Because all the guys have big serves now, and some of them are even bigger than his. He certainly has the weapons. I think he’s lost a bit of confidence…he’s not 23, 24 years old anymore. There’s other things on his mind probably that are taking up space Tennis is a 365-day-a-year job. If you’re not willing to put in that time and make that happen over the course of that year, other things creep in there, they take your mind off your business, and all of a sudden tennis is not the most important thing.” Roddick’s response was ‘F*@# you Jimmy!’ Not really, we made that up — but probably. Most certainly…The USTA reportedly invited NBA finals star and former German junior tennis player Dirk Nowitzki to the US Open site last week for some possible promo videos. Nowitzki’s idol growing up in the ’80s was John McEnroe, who he met for the first time last February when the Mavs beat McEnroe’s Knicks at Madison Square Garden. “I was like a little kid,” Nowitzki said after the game after meeting McEnroe. Nowitzki is also friends with German player Rainer Schuettler and has come out to events to support him…Former Andy Roddick coach Brad Gilbert also got on the Andy-can’t-win bus this week (but wisely with only one foot): “Andy’s 28, almost 29,” Gilbert said on an ESPN conference call. “I’m not going to say his window’s closed, but it’s just becoming so much more difficult when you’re outside the top four. Look at (Gael) Monfils in the (French Open) quarters. Monfils has the potential to win that tournament — he’s French; he’s ranked eighth in the world. But he would have had to beat (Roger) Federer in the quarters, (Novak) Djokovic in the semis and (Rafael) Nadal in the final. The prospects of (any player) doing that are not good at the moment. Obviously, Andy has played great at Wimbledon. He’s probably got a much better chance of doing it there than maybe anywhere else. But as long as the top guys are winning, I just think it’s that much more difficult for anybody outside of them to run the table.”…Kim Clijsters pulled from Wimbledon after aggravating her previous foot injury, initially picked up while dancing at a wedding. She re-injured the foot playing at the Unicef Open. “I’m very, very disappointed to have to withdraw from Wimbledon after injuring my foot again at the tournament in s’Hertogenbosch,” Clijsters said. “At this moment I feel frustrated that it has to happen now before one of my favorite tournaments. I’ve always enjoyed being a part of the Wimbledon atmosphere but I have no other choice now but to rest, recover and to not play tennis for a few weeks.”…Aussie Mark “The Scud Stud” Philippoussis is telling the media he is looking for ATP event wildcards after doing well of late on the senior tour…At the big pre-Wimbledon player party, Maria Sharapova wore a red Alexander McQueen, Serena Williams wore Burberry, Brit Laura Robson wore Temperley, and American Bethanie Mattek-Sands wore a daring but hideous dress made partly out of tennis balls by Lady Gaga fashion collaborator Alex Noble. Girl, Joan Rivers ain’t no friend of that dress…After John Isner and Nicolas Mahut met in the first round at Wimbledon last year, playing a match that lasted 11 hours on court and played over three days, there was a .07 mathematical chance that they would draw each other again this year in the first round — but it happened. Isner has been off his chump of late, we’re going with Mahut this time. According to Peter Bodo writing for ESPN: “The Isner-Mahut match was the equivalent of a 43-inning MLB playoff game, a 35-overtime NBA playoff game, a 15-overtime NFL playoff game, and a 12-overtime NHL game! None of which has even come close to happening in the history of those leagues.”…Serena Williams has more career Slam titles than all the current Top 10 players combined on the WTA tour…AP “international sports columnist” John Leicester opines how embarrassing it is for women’s tennis to have the Williams sisters come back and be favorites for Wimbledon. John if you followed tennis more than four times a year you’d realize that a) Kim Clijsters is out injured; b) Justine Henin is retired; c) Maria Sharapova has never been the same since shoulder surgery; and d) the Williams sisters are two of the greatest and most athletic women’s tennis players EVER. They could probably make a comeback at age 50 and be contenders at Wimbledon. Sure the current slate of top WTA contenders are shite, but give the sisters some respect. Ah, here it is, this could be the problem as quoted: “Serena hasn’t been an easy champion to warm to over the years, with forehands and backhands wielded like a woodman’s ax, her ogre-like hunger for victory, her steamrollering of opponents, and her profanity-laced bullying of a U.S. Open lineswoman in 2009. She has been physically and mentally awesome, she commands respect, is sometimes provocative, charming and cheeky, but appeared too dominant to be deep-down lovable.” — Loveable or not, where’s the respect?…You have to appreciate the awesome, wooden, finally-made-it-through-the-censors reading style of the China Daily: “Chinese Li Na’s success at Roland Garros was a breakthrough for Asian tennis, which led to positive reactions and Asian expectations on forthcoming Wimbledon all over the tennis world. Being the first Asian woman to win a Grand Slam tournament she overcame a major barrier for China and even for Asia. Experts say she is even capable of winning more Grand Slams, starting at Wimbledon. The future of Chinese tennis looks bright. To some players, Li Na’s win at Roland Garros was a surprise. At the same time, she fully deserved it, told some of her colleagues…”…I…am…not…a…robot…John Isner on playing Nicolas Mahut again: “It’s going to be pretty nuts. I couldn’t believe it. I joked with him earlier in the week, last week, and said, ‘Watch us play each other.’ And he said, ‘No, there’s no way. That’s not even funny.’”
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