Aegon International qualifier Jamie Hampton will bid for her first WTA title on Saturday after scoring a battling three-set victory over former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki.
Hampton was always the aggressor in a see-sawing semifinal, that kept Centre Court fans enthralled for almost three hours, the American eventually overcoming world No.9 Wozniacki 6-7 (8) 7-5 6-3.
Ranked No.41 in the world, Hampton surged into the lead in the opening set, only for No.5 seed Wozniacki to peg her back to a tiebreak which she squeaked through 10-8. An equally tough second set saw 23-year-old Hampton take command once more and from there she was never headed, running out the winner in two hours and 44-minutes.
Hampton, who will take on Elena Vesnina in Saturday’s final, was delighted to reach the final of the Aegon International. “That’s what we play for – the chance to win titles. There’s someone standing in my way, a very tough opponent, but I will go out there and do my best.
“I know (Vesnina) is a good ball striker, has a good backhand. I know she won her first title earlier this year, but that’s about it. My coach watched her semifinal match so I’ll have to get his point of view on how she plays.”
“It feels great to be in the final here in Eastbourne,” said 26-year-old Vesnina, who claimed her finals berth courtesy of a 6-2 6-0 win over Yanina Wickmayer. “It’s a really strong tournament and I know that a lot of good players (are) playing here (so) it’s really tough to make the final.”
Contesting her eighth WTA final on Saturday, Vesnina was full of praise for the courts at Devonshire Park, and her opponent’s performance so far this week. “I have always enjoyed playing on grass and I really like the surface,” said the Russian.
“I’m really impressed by how (Jamie’s) playing. I think she’s in good form. But she’s played a lot of matches. She’s probably going to be tired in the final and I will try to use my chances in that final and hopefully I will win it.”
In the men’s singles final Feliciano Lopez will take on Gilles Simon, whom he’s also drawn in the first round at Wimbledon next week, after dominating Ivan Dodig 7-6 (3) 6-1 in their semifinal.
“I’m very happy,” said world No.39 Lopez. “To be in the finals of an ATP event is a great feeling. It’s good for me, for my game, for my confidence for the rest of the year. It’s definitely a great week for me.
“I’m very happy with my performance and hopefully I can keep playing like this until the end of the year so I can improve my ranking again.”
A quarterfinalist in Eastbourne in 2010, Simon had a similarly easy passage to Saturday’s final beating defending champion Andreas Seppi 6-4 6-3.
“It’s always a strange situation” said No.2 seed Simon of his forthcoming final/first round double bill against Lopez. “At the end of the day I just have to focus on the first one.
“It’s going to be a tough match against (Lopez). He’s a very good grass court player and he played a great tournament until now. I just hope I play the same kind of tennis as today. Just expect a great match tomorrow.”
No.4-seeded British duo Colin Fleming and Jonathan Marray went the distance but were unable to overcome top seeds Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares in the men’s doubles final, falling 6-3 3-6 8-10 on Court No.1 at Devonshire Park.
“It was a strong draw in the doubles so it gives us a lot of confidence to have gone through to the final and almost won today,” said Fleming. “I think we both have the sort of attributes to play on grass. Both serve well and volley well, and we like to play attacking and the grass suits us. I think we did a good job of that this week.”
The women’s final is scheduled for 1pm on Saturday, followed by the men’s final (not before 3pm), with the women’s doubles final between Monica Niculescu and Klara Zakopalova and tournament top seeds Nadia Petrova and Katerina Srebotnik wrapping up the Aegon International action for 2013.