“Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star War Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
The first round of the AEGON International (Eastbourne) 2012 saw the fall of the top 3 seeds; Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova and Caroline Wozniacki. Considering that Birmingham is a tune-up for Wimbledon, some might say it’s not a good sign that these players bowed out so soon. Well…maybe and maybe not. Some say that they just want to get a few sets in on grass and winning and losing doesn’t matter.
“There are a lot of examples of players losing very early here and going all the way in Wimbledon, or to the final of Wimbledon, which is obviously an amazing result. If they are able to go through the first two or three rounds at Wimbledon, they’ll start playing even better into the second week. Serena and Venus didn’t play one match on grass this year, and I’m sure they’ll be contenders to win the title. So there’s not really any rule.” – Marion Bartoli
“I would have liked to win, but at least I got some points in. I’m just trying to work on a few things before Wimbledon. That’s it. It’s not really going to be a setback. I didn’t play any matches last year on grass before Wimbledon.” – Caroline Wozniacki
OK. What they said is true…from a certain point of view. I agree that Serena and Venus are still threats at Wimbledon despite not playing any matches on grass. However, 2 of the top 3 seeds that lost, Aga and Caroline, have never won any Major, let alone Wimbledon. Venus has 5 Wimbledon singles titles and Serena has 4. The rules are different for the Williams sisters. They have proven they can win Wimbledon. Caroline and Aga have not. And no, Caroline’s win at the 2006 Wimbledon’s girls singles doesn’t count when judging her results on the WTA. As a pro, Caroline has never been past the 4th round of Wimbledon. With how she’s slipped in the rankings and some of her losses in the past months, if she’s serious about winning Wimbledon, she needs as much match play…not practice sets…on grass as she can get.
But this opens things up for 2 of my favorites, up and coming American Christina McHale and 2007 Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli. After another young American, Melanie Oudin, won the AEGON Classic (Birmingham), it would be fantastic for me to see another, Christina McHale win the AEGON International (Eastbourne). And I root always for Marion Bartoli, who is now the highest seed (#4) remaining at Eastbourne. Not only was she a finalist in 2007, she reached the quarterfinals last year. This year, Marion has not had great result at the Majors, bowing out in the 3rd round of the Australian Open and 2nd round of Roland Garros (after making the semifinals last year in Paris). So I would certainly like to see Marion play well at both Eastbourne and Wimbledon this year.
Singles – First Round
Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) d. (1) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 62 64
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. (2) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 75 64
Christina McHale (USA) d. (3) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 61 67(7) 64
(4) Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 62 62
(5) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. (Q) Elena Vesnina (RUS) 36 60 75
(7) Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. Timea Babos (HUN) 36 63 76(6)
(9) Petra Cetkovska (CZE) d. (LL) Andrea Hlavackova (CZE) 36 62 61
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d. Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 62 30 ret. (low back injury)
Klara Zakopalova (CZE) d. Zheng Jie (CHN) 63 46 63
(Q) Laura Robson (GBR) d. María José Martínez Sánchez (ESP) 36 62 62
(Q) Stéphanie Dubois (CAN) d. Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) 64 64
(WC) Heather Watson (GBR) d. (Q) Greta Arn (HUN) 63 64