Qualifier Hampton earns place in Eastbourne final


Sun, Jun 23, 2013 - Page 20

US qualifier Jamie Hampton was due to play her first career final yesterday against Russia’s Elena Vesnina at the Eastbourne International.

The 41st-ranked Hampton earned her place in the final with a 6-7 (8/10) 7-5, 6-3 upset of former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki on Friday, while Vesnina followed up her ouster of China’s second seed Li Na in the quarter-finals by crushing Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-2, 6-0 in just 51 minutes.

The men’s final was also set with second seed Gilles Simon to take on Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.

Simon beat 2011 champion Andreas Seppi, the Italian seventh seed, 6-4, 6-3, while Lopez, a former Wimbledon quarter-finalist, defeated Croatian Ivan Dodig 7-6 (7/3), 6-1.

“To be in the finals is a great feeling, it’s good for me, for my game, for my confidence for the rest of the year,” Lopez said. “I’m very happy with my performance, and hopefully I can keep playing like this until the end of the year so I can improve my ranking again.”

Simon will be appearing in his first career grass court final, the 14th of his career. A winner of 10 trophies, Simon is the sixth Frenchmen to reach the final in Eastbourne.

Earlier, the Hampton-Wozniacki clash took nearly three hours, but could have ended much earlier had fifth seed Wozniacki managed to complete a straight-sets win.

As it was, the Dane was made to pay the price for missed opportunities by her opponent in their first meeting.

“Obviously I would have loved to have won today, it would have been worth it to be out there for three hours,” Wozniacki said.

“Actually we played a very good match. The wind that was there, it was so difficult, but I had my chances. I didn’t take them, and, she played very well, I have to say,” she said.

“Overall I’m feeling good, I feel happy to be on grass. I feel like my game is where I want it to be. Hopefully at Wimbledon I’ll do well,” the Dane said.

The match was played in blustery conditions on the English south coast after several days of sunshine and atypical calm weather.

Hampton squandered five set points in the opening set to give the momentum to her opponent, but Wozniacki was unable to serve out the second set leading 5-4 after winning the first in a tiebreaker and came up short in the third.

Hampton, 23, will move into position as US No. 3 behind Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens after the best week of her career.

Hampton was the first US woman since Jennifer Capriati a decade ago to play the semis at Devonshire Park and is the first qualifier on the WTA to reach a final this season. The last American to win at Eastbourne was Chanda Rubin in 2003.

Hampton upset Wozniacki while playing in only her third career grass event and will compete at Wimbledon next week for only the second time after reaching the second round a year ago.


THE HAGUE, The Netherlands

Nicolas Mahut defeated fellow veteran Xavier Malisse 6-3, 6-3 on Friday to reach the Topshelf Open final in ’s-Hertogenbosch on Friday.

Mahut, now ranked at 240 in the world after a lengthy battle with a knee injury, was due to take on Swiss second seed Stanislas Wawrinka for the title yesterday at the Wimbledon warm-up event.

Wawrinka defeated Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 6-1, 6-4 in his semi-final.

In the women’s final, Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens was to face Simona Halep of Romania.

Flipkens defeated Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, 6-3, 6-1 while Halep eased past another Spaniard, Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-3, 6-2 in her semi-final.