2013 Aegon International

Vesnina hits top gear to take crown

2013 Aegon International Women's Singles champion Elena Vesnina

Elena Vesnina captured her second crown of the season after crushing jittery American qualifier Jamie Hampton 6-2 6-1 on Saturday.

Vesnina, who had lost six WTA Tour finals on the bounce before finally securing her maiden crown at Hobart in January, outplayed the 23-year-old in 76 minutes in a totally one-sided affair.

Vesnina said: “It was really difficult to play today, we were both struggling with the wind, so I’m pretty happy about my game today with these tough conditions.

“I was trying to play safe, trying to use slice a little bit more just to make Jamie kind of play low balls because it’s really difficult to control the ball.

“When I had the opportunity I was just trying to play aggressive and deep so that Jamie didn’t have time to attack, that was my game plan.”

Hampton seemed both exhausted and nervous in her seventh match of the tournament, making a series of unforced errors – 24 in total – but will learn from her experience in her maiden WTA final.

Doubles expert Vesnina, who won the Ladies Doubles at Roland Garros, made mincemeat of hapless Hampton and saved all five break points to cruise to victory. Vesnina ran away with the opening set after 39 minutes, the American two back-spinning sliced backhand winners the only highlight for Hampton.

Vesnina had roared into a 3-0 second set lead on the hour mark, but then let down her guard for the nine minutes that the sun briefly brightened up the Centre Court.

This little ray of sunshine lit up Hampton’s game, she won her serve – much to the delight of the Centre Court crowd – and battled to four deuces on Vesnina’s serve, but once the grey clouds returned so did the the American’s dreary strokes.

There was no way back for Hampton, Vesnina wrapping up the second set by breaking serve in the sixth game and then dropping a point in her serve to make Eastbourne her second WTA Tour title of the season.

2013 Aegon International Final Highlights


Hampton said: “I was surprised how she was even hitting the ball in the court as the conditions were definitely tougher than yesterday.

“I’m disappointed that I lost today, but I learned a lot from this week – a lot of firsts for my and my ranking is improving.”

vesnina-final-delightVesnina’s opening triumph against Serbian top 20 player Ana Ivanovic was bettered by a formidable thrashing of Li Na, the 2011 French Open winner, at the quarter-final stage.

Riding high on confidence, the Russian brushed aside former US Open semi-finalist Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium in under an hour and is expected to make an impact at Wimbledon.

Vesnina added: “At Wimbledon I would just like to pass the 1st Round. I will take it step by step. I don’t like to think about it, it’s just that it’s a Grand Slam so everyone is hungry to win.

“This is the most popular Grand Slam, everyone is waiting for this tournament and everyone is trying their best to show their best tennis there. I’m just focusing on every single match.

“I don’t want to think about that right now, I just want to enjoy my time in Eastbourne and enjoy my title – but I’m going to find time tonight to celebrate with my friends in London.”

Hampton took out some high profile names to reach the final, accounting for top seed Agnieszka Radwanska, Czech ace Lucie Safarova and former world #1 Caroline Wozniacki.

She started the 2013 Aegon International as a virtual unknown in qualifying as world #41, but finished her eight-day stint elevated to world #28 having delivered the knockout blow to two former Eastbourne champions – Poland’s Radwanska and Dane Wozniacki.

Hampton moves on to the next grass court tournament at Wimbledon, where she is set for a showdown against #17 seed and compatriot Sloane Stephens.

The German-born all-courter – and fellow rising stars from America Christina McHale and Stephens – can take over the void left on the circuit left by superstar Venus Williams, whose WTA Tour career is fast approaching a grand finale.

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Vesnina receiving the winner’s trophy with Hampton a noble runner-up

Hampton’s run to the last 16 at the 2013 French Open helped lift her to the brink of the world’s top 40, and a semi-final showing at Brussels and her Eastbourne exploits then she appears destined for a top 10 place before long.

She has an adaptable game, which has garnered fabulous results on various surfaces, and at Devonshire Park stunned two top 10 players – Radwanska (world #4) and Wozniacki (world #9).

Hampton was staring at defeat against Wozniacki, just two points from a semi-final exit, but bravely battled back to send the great Dane packing in a marathon three set thriller. This dogged determination and never-say-die attitude should hold her in good stead for the next few seasons.

Hampton explained: “I have given myself a two hour time to sulk, basically the journey up to Wimbledon I can sulk, maybe have a little chocolate and then move on and get on with Wimbledon.”

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