Leading seeds fall in Eastbourne

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IOL pic june20 tennis eastbourne wrap Reuters Christina McHale of the United States celebrates after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their women's singles tennis match at the Eastbourne tournament in Eastbourne, southern England.

Eastbourne - The three leading women's seeds were toppled in short order on Tuesday at the Eastbourne grasscourt event, with Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova leading the exit.

The Czech, seeded second at Devonshire park at this south-coast town, was joined on the sidelines by top seed Agnieszka Radwanska and number three Caroline Wozniacki.

Wimbledon preparations were set back for the top trio.

Kvitova will kick off the defence of her All England club title next week without a win on grass this year after losing 7-5, 6-4 to Ekaterina Makarova.

Radwanska lost to Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2, 6-4 while former number one Wozniacki fell to American Christina McHale 6-1, 6-7 (7/9), 6-4.

Kvitova, who beat Maria Sharapova in last year's Wimbledon final, was humbled in 91 minutes by Makarova, who benefited from six Kvitova double-faults and broke the second seed five times.

“I had nothing to lose, so I just tried to play my best game,” said Pironkova.

“She's a really tough opponent and is playing unbelievable on grass. I was just really enjoying it and wanted to show my best tennis - that helped today.”

Russian Makarova's win allowed her to take revenge for a defeat to Kvitova here in the second round a year ago.

Makarova, ranked 48th, won the Eastbourne title in 2010 and was also impressive on grass last week in Birmingham when she reached the semifinals.

Meanwhile, a stunned Radwanska could offer little insight into her first-round loss.

“It was not my day today, that's for sure,” said the Pole. “I've had a lot of matches this year and I'm a bit tired. I was trying everything, but she is playing really well on grass.”

Wozniacki, who has dropped to seventh on the WTA after standing atop the table for two seasons, was not alarmed with her defeat.

“Obviously I would have liked to have won that match but at least I got some points in. I'm just trying to work on a few things before Wimbledon.

“It's not really going to be a setback. I didn't play any matches last year on grass before I went to Wimbledon.”

Defending champion Marion Bartoli restored order as the fourth seed dominated Sorona Cirstea of Romania 6-2, 6-2 with the Frenchwoman playing on her favourite surface.

“Grass is really my game,” said the 2007 Wimbledon finalist. “I play very close from the baseline, and I play very flat. Those are two qualities you need to have if you want to play well on this surface.”

German fifth seed Angelique Kerber rallied past Elena Vesnina of Russia 3-6, 6-0, 7-5, Lucie Safarova, the number seven beat Timea Babos 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) while Klara Zakopalova eliminated China's Zheng Jie 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated Hsieh Su-Wei as the Taiwan player retired trailing 6-2, 3-0 with back pain.

On the men's side, Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan upset French fifth seed Julien Benneteau 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7/4).

Belgian Steve Darcis put out Australian Matthew Ebden 6-2, 6-4 and Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan beat Michael Llodra of France 6-4, 6-3.

Wild card Andy Roddick hit the practice courts again after playing for just 24 minutes before Sam Querrey retired trailing 5-2 with back pain. Roddick entered this week after an opening loss at Queen's club. - Sapa-AFP


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