Spaniard Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez won his first career grasscourt title Saturday at the Aegon International in Eastbourne, defeating France’s Gilles Simon 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-0 in gusty conditions.
“I think grass is my best surface, and to have at least one title on grass is very nice feeling,” Lopez said. “This match was really special, because it’s great to be in the finals and it’s an opportunity to win another ATP event. But playing the same guy in two days, it’s also important to have some feedback, even though we know each other very well, because almost every week we see each other.”
Lopez will meet Simon again in the first round at Wimbledon. Simon dropped to 10-4 in career finals, and has yet to claim a championship on grass.
Qualifier Nicholas Mahut was another winner Saturday who has always had the game to win on grass but had never punched through, at the Topshelf Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch upsetting Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 6-4 in the final.
The No. 240-ranked Mahut won his first grasscourt title, and first ATP title, in his third career grasscourt final.
“I didn’t know if I was going to play again when I had some bad times with my knee,” said the 31-year-old who was sidelined six months with injury. “All my team helped me a lot. We worked hard and here I am with the trophy. It’s a good story.”
Wawrinka dropped to 4-9 in career finals, and it won’t get any easier at Wimbledon where he meets former champ Lleyton Hewitt in the first round.
“I had a great week here and I’m looking forward to playing Lleyton on Monday,” Wawrinka said. “It will be a big match for both of us.”
On the women’s side in Eastbourne, Russian Elena Vesnina ended the Cinderella run of American qualifier Jamie Hampton in unceremonial fashion 6-2, 6-1.
“At the beginning I was like, ‘Oh my God, I just need to stay in the match, just try to play every single point. Don’t think about wind and just fight,’” Vesnina said about the difficult conditions. “It was not about the serve, it was not about good forehands or good backhands — it was about fighting spirit.”
Vesnina entered 2013 with an 0-6 record in career finals, but is 2-0 in championship matches this year. Hampton was appearing in her first career final after defeating former No. 1 and junior Wimbledon finalist Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals.
“She played the conditions much better than I did,” said Hampton, who is projected to rise to No. 25 in the rankings. “Honestly, I was surprised how she was even hitting the ball in the court [in the wind], and on top of that she was playing some very good tennis. She was very deserving of the title today…I have given myself like a two-hour time limit to sulk, basically the journey up to Wimbledon — I can sulk during that and maybe have a little chocolate, and then move on and get on with Wimbledon.”
On the women’s side at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Simona Halep won her second consecutive grasscourt title in two weeks, in the final defeating Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 6-2. She won her first career title last week at Nurnberg.
“I played really well on grass after a week on clay,” Halep said. “Today I played well. I was a little bit nervous at the start but I just tried to fight for every point. She’s playing a very difficult game for me, slicing a lot, but I played every point and just kept going, and I won in the end.”
Flipkens dropped to 1-1 in career finals.
“It was really not easy to play with the wind today — it’s especially difficult for me to play in with my serve,” Flipkens said. “But Simona’s in the shape of her life…It looks like it doesn’t even matter to her what surface she’s playing on at the moment.”
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