Mixed Fortunes For Americans At Priory
Published June 10, 2013 12:01
Seven days after losing to Jelena Jankovic in the last 16 of the French Open, Hampton needed just a fraction over an hour to see off No.10 seed Hsieh Su-Wei, 62 63. The clinical nature of Hampton's performance was all the more remarkable considering it was just the third of her career on grass.
"It was the first time I ever played this tournament and one of my first times on grass, so I'm still kind of getting used to it and used to the movement," Hampton said. "But I thought it was a good match for me.
"She's really tough on grass because her ball stays really low. I served well when I needed to and played good, aggressive tennis in the second set."
After her impressive showing in Paris, Hampton begins the grass court season at a career-high No.42 in the world, and she is optimistic about her chances of rising further over the coming months. "I don't really have any points to defend leading up to the US Open, so I have a chance to really improve my ranking on the grass and on the hard in the US."
Another high-flying young American off to a winning start at the Edgbaston Priory Club was Madison Keys. Since the start of the year, Keys has risen nearly 100 places in the rankings, and her hard-fought 36 63 76(3) win over Lesia Tsurenko puts her within touching distance of a Top 50 debut.
However, it was not all good news for the Americans in the draw, with defending champion Melanie Oudin slipping to a straight set defeat.
Oudin came through qualifying to lift the title 12 months ago, but was no match for Ajla Tomljanovic on her return, going down, 63 61, in the opening match on the new Ann Jones Centre Court.
"I think my serve was a big factor today," Tomljanovic said. "I was serving so well that I felt very comfortable on the return. I didn't feel much pressure and could maybe go for a little more with my returns.
"She was actually playing really well at the beginning, but my serve really helped me out and then I also got lucky on a few points here and there."
Last year, Tomljanovic, a former junior No.4, suffered two bouts of mononucleosis and elected to sit out virtually the entire second half of the season. It was not an easy decision, but one the 20-year-old believes is now paying dividends.
"Physically, I'm still not quite where I want to be yet," she added. "But I'm getting stronger with every tournament. It's a horrible illness and lots of players, like Mario Ancic, have been forced out of tennis because of it.
"I actually talked to Mario's brother and he said not to rush back. It ended up being my smartest decision to take the rest of the season off and just to prepare for 2013."