Winning is all about seizing every possible opportunity and that’s exactly what Elena Vesnina did best as she sailed to a straight-sets victory over Jamie Hampton to claim the 2013 AEGON International women’s singles trophy – her first ever WTA title on grass.
Both players were forced to contend with strong, swirling winds on Devonshire Park’s Centre Court but the Russian undoubtedly handled it better, completing the comprehensive 6-2, 6-1 victory over the frustrated American in just one hour and 16 minutes to claim the $117,000 prize.
Speaking after her victory, which is her second in six months after losing in six successive finals prior to this year, she said, “It was really difficult to play today, honestly. I think we were both struggling with this wind.
“At the beginning of the match, I was like, Oh, my God, I just need to stay in the match, just try to play every single point, don’t think about wind and just fight.
“It was not about serve, it was not about good forehand or good backhand. It was just about fighting spirit. It’s a shame that wind was in the final because you always want to play and show your best tennis, to show a spectacular match. But it doesn’t matter, a win is a win.”
This was the first time the pair had met on the WTA circuit and both had reason to be confident: world number 36 Vesnina, who won her first WTA title in Australia earlier this year, had knocked out seventh, second and sixth seeds Ana Ivanovic, Li Na and Maria Kirilenko, as well as British number two Heather Watson in the second round.
Hampton, meanwhile, had eased through the qualifying rounds before entering the main draw and eventually reaching her first ever WTA final, triumphing over top seed Agnieszka Radwanska, Su-Wei Hsieh, Lucie Safarova and former world number one and fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki along the way.
The match started steadily, with the first three games going to serve before the rain caused a slight interruption and delay. The players returned a few minutes later to pocket one more game a-piece before the higher-ranked Vesnina turned it up a notch to break Hampton’s serve and take a 4-2 lead.
From here, Vesnina won an impressive seven games on the spin to take the first set 6-2 and get a 3-0 cushion in the second. She completed the first-set victory in just 40 minutes.
Anyone would have been foolish to dismiss Hampton at this stage, though, after she had already registered comebacks in a number of her matches earlier this week, earning herself a reputation as a spirited fighter who stuck to the cause at all costs.
However, today was a different story as the wind and frustration got the better of the 23-year-old, who squandered five break points in the opening set and failed to do herself justice on the main stage on Saturday afternoon.
The second set was even more comfortable for Vesnina as she broke Hampton’s serve twice and denied the world number 41 even a chance at break point, storming to a 6-1 set victory to secure the prestigious pre-Wimbledon tournament trophy.
Vesnina, who won the French Open doubles title with Ekaterina Makarova at Roland Garros earlier this year, added, “I kept believing in myself, I knew that I’m going to win this title. I knew that it’s going to happen. It’s not like self-confidence but I was just thinking that if you are working hard, if you keep believing in yourself, it will come. And it did.
“The crowds in Eastbourne are really, really good and polite. They understand the game, they support everybody the same.
“It was really a pleasure to play here right from the first day, since my first match. People really understand tennis, they understand the rules and they help players to feel comfortable on the court.”
Hampton, while disappointed to finish runner-up, remained encouraged after such a positive week on the grass courts. She said, “I’m very proud of myself for fighting through all the adversity, having to come through quallies and fighting through all the conditions all week.
“Obviously I’m disappointed that I lost today and I would have loved to have won it, but on to the next tournament.
“I have given myself a two-hour time limit to sulk, basically the journey up to Wimbledon, I can sulk, maybe have a little chocolate, and then move on and get on with Wimbledon.
“The conditions were definitely tougher than yesterday but she played the conditions much better than I did. I was surprised how she was even hitting the ball in the court and, on top of that, she was playing very good tennis. She was deserving of the title today.”