Safarova Ousts Stosur, Hampton Awaits
Published June 19, 2013 12:01
Hampton had beaten Hsieh routinely in straight sets last week in Birmingham, 62 63, and while this one was a bit dicier - Hsieh led 5-3 in the second set - Hampton still won it in straight sets, 64 76(2).
"I've always thought Su-Wei's a talented player, she has so much variety and grass suits her game so well," Hampton said. "So to come out on top against her last week and this week too is good for me."
It has been a phenomenal last month for Hampton - a Premier-level semifinal in Brussels, the fourth round of Roland Garros, breaking the Top 50, now another Premier-level quarterfinal in Eastbourne.
And to think it all started with some lost luggage.
"I went into Brussels not having done so well on clay, losing in the qualifying in Madrid and Rome. I was thinking this was going to end up like last year's clay court season. When I got to Brussels, my luggage didn't show up - I didn't have any racquets, I didn't have any clothes, I didn't have any drinks, I didn't have anything. And a couple of days later I developed an eye infection. I just wanted to go home. I didn't want to play a tournament. I almost withdrew. I didn't want to play any tennis at that point.
"I'm a perfectionist. I like to be prepared for my matches the night before. But what happened made me take all the pressure off myself. And after Brussels I went into Roland Garros with the right mindset of just accepting the clay. And my game translates well on grass anyway, which is great right now."
"I think I do so well against her because I'm a lefty and she prefers her forehand, so I can attack her backhand side well," Safarova said. "Also I play aggressively and try to take her time away. Those are the keys to beating her - getting to her weaker side and not letting her attack with her game."
Hampton beat Safarova in their only previous meeting, just a few weeks ago, and it was a thriller.
"I lost to her 9-7 in the third set in the first round of Roland Garros," Safarova said. "It was a really tough match. I hope it will be better for me on grass. I'm looking forward to some revenge."
"She's a great shotmaker," Hampton said. "She's going to be really aggressive from the beginning so I have to be really aggressive from the beginning too. I'll try my best and we'll see how it goes."
Another Grand Slam rematch was set as well, as Maria Kirilenko and Yanina Wickmayer both battled hard for three set wins over very experienced grass court opponents. Kirilenko won first, coming from a set down and a break down in the third set to make it past British wildcard Elena Baltacha, 46 64 63.
Baltacha, who recently returned to the tour from lengthy injury struggles, took many positives away.
"When you're playing someone Top 10 your tactics are quite limited, but I had certain tactics in mind and I think I did that pretty well," Baltacha said. "There were points I should have won. I had two break points to go up 4-3 in the third, but she played an unreturnable first serve, and the second she aced me. You could see why she's had such a great year, and you can understand why she's Top 10 now, definitely. She's a quality player and she's got a good game on the grass. She has a massive serve.
"But I think how I dealt with it, how I played, how I moved and tried to execute my tactics, I did a good job of that today. And I'm different now - my attitude is different now. I knew I was going to fight for everything. And it was pretty gut wrenching out there, but I must admit, I loved every second of it."
Wickmayer also came back from a break down in the third set - twice, in fact, first at 3-1 and then at 4-2 - to eventually defeat the No.4 seed, Petra Kvitova in a two-hour, 27-minute marathon, 36 64 75.
Kirilenko beat Wickmayer in their only previous meeting, a nearly-two hour straight-setter Down Under.