EASTBOURNE, England - Agnieszka Radwanska has lifted the ultimate prize there before - the Aegon International trophy, winning it in 2008 - but she has had somewhat of a curse in Eastbourne recently, and on Monday she dropped her opener at the Premier event for the third year in a row.
Tsvetana Pironkova took her out in 2012, Jamie Hampton did the honors in 2013 and now Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was the one to do it, fighting her way back from an early break down in the third set - and coming out on top in that marathon 64-minute third set - for a stunning 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4) victory.
Pavlyuchenkova's win over the World No.4 was her seventh win over a Top 5 player. Her first six came at Indian Wells in 2009 (No.3 Jelena Jankovic), Tokyo [Pan Pacific] in 2009 (No.3 Venus Williams), Beijing in 2009 (No.3 Venus Williams), the French Open in 2011 (No.3 Vera Zvonareva), Brisbane in 2013 (No.5 Angelique Kerber) and Paris [Indoors] earlier this year (No.5 Maria Sharapova).
The other two seeds in action both advanced, with No.5 seed Angelique Kerber rallying from 3-1 down in the first set - and staving off two points for a 4-1 deficit - to beat Alison Riske, 7-6(6), 6-4, and No.8 seed Caroline Wozniacki rallying from 5-3 down in the first set and 2-0 down in the second set for a 7-5, 6-4 win over Samantha Stosur. The win was Wozniacki's first win since Madrid six weeks ago.
Francesca Schiavone, Lauren Davis, Belinda Bencic and Hsieh Su-Wei made it through to the main draw with wins in the final round of qualifying. Schiavone and Davis pulled off particularly impressive victories - WTA veteran Schiavone rallied from 3-1 down in the third set to outlast Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-7(2), 6-0, 7-6(2), while WTA Rising Star Davis rallied from a set and a break down to beat Karolina Pliskova, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. Hsieh beat former Eastbourne champion Tamira Paszek, 6-3, 7-5.
The first two doubles matches of the week took place as well, with Martina Hingis and Flavia Pennetta pulling off the first big upset, taking out No.4 seeds and former French Open champions Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, 7-5, 6-2. Hingis and Pennetta are both former No.1 doubles players.