Sunday is always my favourite day in Eastbourne as the WTA main draw begins and there are no ticket restrictions so you can pick and choose where to sit on Centre Court. It was another glorious day filled with sunshine. It was very relaxed compared to Saturday as I spent my day hopping between Centre, Court 1 and the practice courts. Read on for 12 stories in Sunday’s Live Set Points post from Eastbourne.
Sakkari-Cirstea morning practice
I always head straight to the practice courts when I arrive at Devonshire Park and court 6 is becoming a good spot as there’s no netting and usually few people. This morning, Maria Sakkari and Sorana Cirstea were practising together. I’ve read lots about Sakkari’s sportswomanship and generally being one of the nicest players on tour, and that was clear from this practice as she kept apologising! Sakkari was telling Cirstea where she was aiming with the serve and said sorry when it didn’t end up where she had implied. Sorana responded “no, good one!”.
I enjoyed taking photos of both players, especially Sakkari who I have seen very little of before. The pair shared a hearty handshake with each other and their respective teams, both wishing each other good luck for the day ahead. Sadly, it didn’t end up to be a successful day for either!
Just to follow up on the new court 2. There’s a fence on the south side which is really annoying! You can just peak into the court but it’s high enough that there is no point trying to watch. I’m hoping they might be adding a stand on this south side? I’m disappointed!
Match Recap – Collins d. Swan (Eastbourne, R1)
I decided to start my day watching Danielle Collins and Katie Swan on Court 1. I’d never watched either player live, which was the clincher of making my decision of which match to watch. I ended up staying for the entire match and quite enjoyed it. Collins won, 6-3 3-6 6-3, in what was her first every win on grass (via Tennis Abstract). I thought it was a really promising performance from the 19-year-old, Swan. I thought she was a little nervous to start with and Collins may have caused some of that with some aggressive returning and starting the shouts of “come on” from the second point .
At the second time of asking in the second set, Swan was able to consolidate a break of serve to go up 4-2 against an increasingly frustrated, Collins. The American must have been foot faulted about five times in this match from three different line judges! Serving at 2-3, a foot fault seemed to throw Collins off her rhythm as she produced a shocker of a service game. Swan was very convincing in closing out the set.
Collins played her best tennis of the match to go up 4-0 in the decider. The American was much more aggressive and her point construction was excellent as she moved the ball from side-to-side. Swan was always on the move, on the defensive, and never really looked comfortable. Collins did let things slip a tad at the end including one dreadful return game. Collins eventually served out the match to 15. Having fist pumped and screamed “come on” and “let’s go” continually during the match, Collins was almost completely mute when she won the point 😂.
Cibulkova-Pera practice & Murray sighting
I headed out after Collins-Swan for a wander and saw Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund trying to leave the court after a practice session. Understandably, they were swamped with fans. I also saw Dominika Cibulkova and Bernarda Pera practising together on Court 6. A little surprised to see Pera who did appear in the main draw (well spotted, Ziggy!) as a Lucky Loser but then disappeared. I only stayed for a few minutes but she seemed OK.
Pavlyuchenkova d. Cirstea (Eastbourne, R1)
I then headed to Centre Court where I saw the last game of the match between Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Sorana Cirstea. It was certainly eventful as Pavs needed five match points to seal the win. Cirstea produced some amazing match point saves. Ultimately, she missed a golden opportunity to chalk up a break point as she netted a routine volley. Pavs won, 2-6 7-5 6-4, for her first win on grass this year.
Match Recap – Kuznetsova d. Sakkari (Eastbourne, R1)
My match of the day was second up on Centre Court between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sakkari. The final two sets were decent. The first set was a little scrappy from both players with Kuznetsova eventually drawing away as she began to dictate at the net. Kuznetsova had a pair of nasty slips in the second set – the first one prompted the umpire, Julie Kjendle, to come racing out of her chair! Thankfully she was OK, but the Russian player did seem to lose her rhythm as Sakkari fought back to force a decider.
Sakkari was all about the forehand and sadly, that shot let her down at the end with three forehands dumped into the net to surrender her serve at *3-4 in the decider. Sakkari was able to break back in the next game as she accepted some gifts from Kuznetsova who double faulted on match point and then break point. Sadly, the forehand was still leaking errors for Sakkari and Kuznetsova broke for just her 4th main draw win of the year and first on grass in 2018. Sveta looked really chuffed at the end with her 6-3 3-6 6-4 victory.
I do like watching Sakkari and it was a shame that the forehand went away at the end. She was getting very frustrated and was constantly looking over to her team including coach, Thomas Johansson. I can see why her game suits the clay. Not sure about the grass…
I was pleased when I found Agnieszka Radwanska and Kiki Bertens practising together on Court 6. I was sad when I realised they were finishing! Just the one shot of Aga (she looks baffled by me 😂). I went to take a picture of Kiki but Medvedev walked right in the way. Oh well.
It was mostly ATP on the practice courts but I caught a sighting of Dasha in the distance so headed over… Kasatkina was practising with Aleksandra Krunic 😍. This was a fun practice to watch. Krunic nonchalantly did a between-the-legs shot at the net (see picture below) as both practised their volleys. I’m hoping to catch Dasha’s second round match on Tuesday.
Match Recap – Bondarenko d. Cornet (Eastbourne, R1)
I caught the final set of the last match of the day on Court 1 between Alizé Cornet and Kateryna Bondarenko. This was the most entertaining tennis I watched all day and was the match with the longest rallies. Bondarenko had won a combined six games in her last two matches against Cornet, but came from a set down and then a break down in the decider to win this latest clash, 4-6 6-2 6-4.
Bondarenko was comfortably the better player later on but sometimes but that doesn’t always translate into the final result! Bondarenko was aggressive and confident enough to move forward. The Ukrainian player saved three break points at *3-3 *0-40, the third of them on the best rally of the set that rightfully scored a big applause from the crowd. Cornet seemed to have an issue with her leg on serve (not the first time i’ve seen that) and also got a time violation when Bondarenko was serving. Cornet started to monologue and then just cut it with a “whatever” 😂.
Bondarenko couldn’t serve it out but broke for the win and on a Cornet double fault. A great win for K-Bond who looked thrilled at the end. I watched the third set from my favourite vantage point standing behind Court 1.
Konta interview on MTB
ICYMI: I managed to get a one-to-one interview with Johanna Konta on Saturday. I’m really touched by all the nice comments i’ve received on Twitter and so glad that people enjoyed reading it. Check out the link below to find out how it happened and more about Jo’s baking/cooking. The highlight of the week and nothing will top it!
A selection of photos from Saturday including Vikhlyantseva, Vickery, Konjuh, Barty, Gavrilova, Cibulkova, Sestini Hlavackova and Pera is up on the MTB Facebook page. Check out the MTB Twitter page for the most recent photos.
Monday and Tuesday are the busiest days at Eastbourne and thankfully this year the weather is looking great! There are 10 first round matches and two second round matches with Caroline Wozniacki and Karolina Pliskova starting their campaigns. I just can’t decide what to do with my day tomorrow as there will be so much going on! I’m going to try and be decisive… 😂