The home fans at the AEGON Classic were treated to a rush of success yesterday as five British players reached the second round at the Edgbaston Priory Club.
On a frantic day of action, teenager Tara Moore started the run by thrashing 11th seed Iveta Benesova 6-1, 6-2 for a win in her first WTA Tour level match.
“I was nervous but I kept the pressure on her,” said the 19-year-old. “I love the grass. I performed well today and this win gives me great heart going forwards.”
Anne Keothavong (pictured above) celebrated her ascent to the British number one ranking this week by beating the 12th seed and last year’s Wimbledon quarter-finalist Tamira Paszek 6-2, 7-5.
“It’s always nice to be at the top of the British rankings,” said Keothavong. “Especially as there’s quite a few of us who are doing well and there’s a lot more competition in British women’s tennis than there has been.”
Wild card entry Melanie South came through 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 against Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic, who reached the quarter-finals in Edgbaston last year, before Laura Robson beat Grace Min of the United States 6-4, 6-1 to keep the momentum going.
“I started off really aggressive and I kept that going in the whole match,” said Robson. “In the second set I was just a bit more consistent on my first serve return and that made a big difference.”
Robson was followed onto Centre Court by her doubles partner Heather Watson, who prevailed in a tight match against Argentina’s Paula Ormaechea 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Robson and Watson had extra reason to celebrate on the day they learned they had been handed wild cards into Wimbledon.
“I’m very happy (to get a wild card),” said Robson. “I’m very grateful they’ve given me one again, and I’m also really excited to play doubles there with Heather too.”
It is the first time in the history of the tournament that five British players have made the second round at Edgbaston Priory Club.
There is still a chance that a sixth British player will join them after Elena Baltacha’s first-round match against Kai-Chen Chang was suspended at 9.20 p.m. with Chang having taken the first set 6-4 but Baltacha a break up in the second at 3-2.
Baltacha’s match against Chang will resume today, with the winner to play Watson later in the day.
South’s reward for beating Lucic is a second-round encounter with former world number one Jelena Jankovic on Wednesday when the top eight seeds enter the fray after first-round byes.
South against Jankovic opens play on Centre Court, where ticket-holders will also see top seed Francesca Schiavone and defending champion Sabine Lisicki in action.
Of the other British players, Keothavong takes on world number 32 Zheng Jie on Centre Court, while Moore faces Casey Dellacqua, and Robson takes on Marina Erakovic on Court 1.
The Women’t Sports Magazine
Photo credit: James Jordan Photography