Aegon International, Eastbourne 2016: Sunday on the practice courts

As the rain absolutely hammers it down in Eastbourne (sobb), it gives me the opportunity to catch up on my daily post from the practice courts. This is one of my favourite things to do at tournaments and it’s something you can’t watch on TennisTV! Keep reading on for accounts and photos of Sam, Lucie, Timea, Belinda, Petko and more.

There are six practice courts in Eastbourne that are viewable for the public and two of them don’t have any netting so you get a nice view across, which is good for taking photos. The first spot of the day was Sam Stosur and Johanna Konta and Sara Errani who were practising together.

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Next I headed over to the four main practice courts. There’s never a problem with getting a front row view, which is one of the reasons I like Eastbourne compared to Wimbledon. At SW19 you have to queue up for ages and then you can’t really take any photos through two layers of netting. You do still have to put up with the netting for these four practice courts in Eastbourne but I can normally just about poke my camera through. Caroline Wozniacki and Denisa Allertova were practising together and spent a while hitting serves and returns. Caro had David Kotyza on court while dad watched on from the sidelines.

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Wozniacki’s ankles were heavily strapped, but she seemed to be moving OK. I got the sense during her match that she was still protecting it somewhat.

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The practice courts were a hive of activity in the morning and I also spotted the likes of Alizé Cornet and Kristina Mladenovic.

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I finally spotted Petra Kvitova for the first time. She was warming up for practice on one of the outside courts and looked a little sleepy. I managed to get a shot of her yawning… sorry Petra!

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Petra was practising with her coach and she looked a little sluggish. She didn’t look particularly engaged early on and was a little flat. Noting this, she’ll probably go on and win the tournament!

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Agnieszka Radwanska and Dominika Cibulkova were practising on the court next door. I often see Aga practising with just her coach and this was one of the first times i’ve seen her hitting with another player.

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After going off to watch Robson v Brengle and Wozniacki v Cornet, I returned to the practice courts in the afternoon and I was in tennis heaven. I finally spotted Timea Bacsinszky. This was the first time i’ve ever seen her and she was practising with Sam Stosur. They were having a good old chinwag before they started playing a practice set. It was one of the best things I watched all day and they played some super points together.

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Getting to witness Bacsinszky’s backhand up close was great. I want Timea’s backhand! She seemed to be leading Stosur in their set and was bamboozling the Aussie with some of her drop shots and slices. There was brilliant pass too! It’s a great perspective to watch behind the players as you get a sense of how hard the players hit the ball.

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Timea also took a few tumbles on the grass. She looked up at the sky and said “it hasn’t rained for 12 hours”!

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Stosur then went off and Belinda Bencic came on. Bacsinszky and Bencic were having a great time and there were plenty of smiles. Bacsinszky took another tumble and almost did a full-on roly poly. Unfortunately I wasn’t on the ball and missed a photo opportunity.

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I was watching the practice with some Belinda fans and while I was pointing the camera at her, she looked over and shouted out “I see you”! She stuck out her tongue and said she was going to work on her poses! I missed the tongue poke but I got a nice picture. It’s impossible not to get a nice picture of Belinda. She’s so much fun and generally just seems to love life. I love how open she is and giving with her fans. It’s refreshing to see.

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Random point… i’d love to see a Bacsinszky v Bencic match. They’ve never played each other on the WTA tour and I think their styles would marry up nicely. Come on draw gods!

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Over on the next practice court, Lucie Safarova and Andrea Petkovic were playing a practice set and it was much more serious than Bacsinszky and Bencic. It was great to see Lucie again and she had Petr Pala on court. I heard Petkovic say at one point that she was “really pissed off” during their practice set. Both seemed to be playing pretty good stuff though from what I could see. Lucie has so much raw power and she hit some wonderful forehands down-the-line.

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15 thoughts on “Aegon International, Eastbourne 2016: Sunday on the practice courts

  1. Loving the photos of Belinda on here and thank you for taking and posting them. Wish I could have been there and seen her. Yes, I would also like to see a match between Belinda and Timea Bacsinszky and it will be great if it happens at Wimbledon.

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  2. The phrase which caught my attention was ‘Noting this, she’ll probably go on and win the tournament!’ 😉 Never cease to give on Petra! I am Silas btw ^^ Didnt realise I used my other initials LEJ but nvm.

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  3. I know you’re at Eastbourne bbbuuuuutttt… Caroline Garcia won a grass title! And I’m so stoked!! I think winning titles in doubles with Kiki has done her the world of good…if she were to win a title on hard courts this year I’d just be over the moon. 😀

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    • 🙂 indeed, I think the french open experience will be a huge positive. Mallorca was a nice tournament, will see if this can be the stepping stone to a more consistent title winning phase of her journey. I’m thinking if she gets gold in Rio, that may be the turning point.

      How about Keys too, top 10 player now. I half expected her to switch off against Babs, but she seems like a focused player now. Wimbledon should be very interesting a mix of old andnew.

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      • Yeah I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been very wrong about Keys. She’s looking very sound mentally on court in big moments and now she’s willing to put some topspin and margin on her strikes, she’s looking like a TOP player. Strycova didn’t do much wrong at all.

        Puig is the other one. Inside the top twenty on the Road to Singapore. Big serve, big groundstrokes, terrific mover, great touch, smart tactics and a positive attitude. She pretty much has it all and more with no real weaknesses. If she doesn’t tire herself out she could be a real contender for some big upsets at Wimbledon.

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      • I had big hopes for Keys at Wimbledon but must admit I didn’t see her run at Birmingham coming. I thought she’d take time to adjust to the grass. I still think Keys is vulnerable early on at Wimby but with the right draw, I think she can go very far.

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    • Haha it’s fine, I’m sorry my focus has been completely on Eastbourne, I’ve missed out on a lot of other things. Great news for Garcia, you must be chuffed. I hope she can carry this form into Wimby.

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  4. I sometimes catch glimpses of Monica Seles when I see Bencic from some angle. In a match with Timea, I think Timea will win being more readily versatile in her gameplay approach. Plus, she’s more mature. Will be fun though.

    I feel that way about Kasatkina as well, a couple more years, more maturity she, she should be right up there. A bit like Kim Clijsters or Azarenka, with defensive offensive capabilities. There is a ‘spark’ in there.

    Aga was practising with Wozniacki earlier, she seems to be putting in the hours, hope it pays off. I liked her aproach at RG, before the rains messed the scheduling. She should keep that focus SW 19.

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    • I feel like Kasatkina and everything about her game and demeanor is SO similar to a young Svetlana Kuznetsova. The only thing she’s missing is a big first serve and some confidence closing at the net.
      I’m really happy with her progress this year. I don’t feel she’s strong enough mentally yet to have a really big breakthrough. Her steady but fairly consistent performances mean she won’t have to contend with ranking point pressure next year when she’s older and a little more battle hardened.

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      • All fair points, she’s not quite there yet but still so young and inexperienced on tour. Really encouraged by some of her play this year. Considering this was her first pro match on grass (didn’t realise till afterwards) she did pretty well against an in form Ostapenko.

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    • I love the way Kasatkina play, there’s something different and I really like that. Bacsinszky too, she’s often spot on with her tactics and I love her variety.

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      • I feel like Bacsinszky sometimes when I play haha! I do love hitting a really awkward forehand slice.

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      • I love slicing on both wings but guys really don’t seem to read a good forehand slice.
        Do you play with a single or double backhand?

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      • Yeah, Timea at her best is almost like Serena in the way she can figure out an opponent’s playing style and find ways to counter it.

        She knows that Aga Radwanska liikes to use the pace of her opponent’s shots to generate pace for her own, for example, so when she played Aga in Miami she hit a lot of high, looping balls with all the pace taken off so that Aga had to generate all her own pace when returning them (which she wasn’t used to doing).

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