Vesnina, Lopez defy strong winds to win titles


Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - Page 20

Strong winds played havoc with her skirt and brought her a warning for time-wasting, but Elena Vesnina rose above the problems to win her second WTA Tour title on the grass of Eastbourne, England, on Saturday, beating qualifier Jamie Hampton of the US 6-2, 6-1.

Spain’s Feliciano Lopez won the men’s title, beating second seed Gilles Simon 7-6 (7/2), 6-7 (5/7), 6-0 in a dress rehearsal for their first-round meeting at Wimbledon this week.

The Devonshire Park courts at the southern English seaside resort, always known for its windy conditions, proved especially tricky for finals day and Vesnina was warned for taking too long to serve early in the second set as she tried to stop her skirt flapping.

When the Russian complained, umpire Mariana Alves told her: “I understand, but we can’t wait forever.”

Afterwards, Vesnina was all smiles, saying her first WTA Tour win, in Hobart in January, had come in similar conditions.

“Before I hated to play in the wind, I was struggling so much, but now I just love it,” she told a courtside interviewer.

The 36th-ranked Vesnina, who won the French Open doubles title with Ekaterina Makarova this month, picked up a check for US$117,000 for the Aegon International win, which she said gave her “a lot of confidence and positive emotions” for Wimbledon, which starts today.

Left-hander Lopez also received a warning for taking too much time to serve at the start of the second set as he waited, puffing out his bearded cheeks in frustration, for the wind to subside.

The unseeded Lopez, whose early season was disrupted by injuries, raced 3-0 ahead in the deciding set. Simon saved five break points in the fourth game, before putting a forehand into the net to concede another break and spent the rest of the match berating himself loudly.

Luck, too, was against the Frenchman and after saving two championship points in the sixth game, he slipped on the grass as he raced in to try to save a third.

Lopez raised a laugh when he eagerly grabbed the winner’s trophy from the presentation table, before realizing that he should wait for the formal handover, putting it back with an embarrassed smile.

“I hope we can make a better show at Wimbledon,” he said in an on-court interview. “Today, conditions were so tough and we did our best, but it was so windy.”



Frenchman Nicolas Mahut won his first ATP Tour title on Saturday, taking the Topshelf Open title with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over favorite Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.

The 31-year-old, whose ranking has slipped to 240th in the world after a knee injury, was appearing in just his third final.

Mahut, best known for having participated in the longest tennis match of all time with John Isner at Wimbledon in 2010, adapted best to the conditions, which saw rain intervene twice in the first set, the second time at 3-3.

Mahut broke Wawrinka, ranked 10, on their return and had no problem in wrapping up the set.

The Frenchman then broke Wawrinka in the third game of the second set, keeping his nerve to seal victory and end the tournament without having dropped a set.

“After all the difficulties these past few months, this win proves that I was right to keep going,” Mahut said.