AEGON International: 10 stars to watch this week

Caroline Wozniacki
Caroline Wozniacki

Agnieszka Radwanska

Country: Poland

World ranking: 4

The Polish world number 4 and 2008 Eastbourne champion will be the highest ranked player in the main draw this year.

Radwanska beat Nadia Petrova in three sets to take the title at Devonshire Park six years ago before making the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. That year she also became the first Polish player ever to make the top 10 on the WTA Tour.

Since then, the world number 4 has produced some excellent performances on grass.

She was runner-up at Wimbledon to Serena Williams in 2012, her first Grand Slam final, and made the semi-finals at the All England Club again last year. Radwanska reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January, but suffered a shock third round defeat to Croatia’s Ajla Tomljanovic at Roland Garros recently.

The Polish star will be determined to come back fighting at Devonshire Park.

Petra Kvitova

Country: Czech Republic

World ranking: 6

Kvitova is a strong contender for the title with a fantastic record on grass.

She was runner-up to Marion Bartoli of France at the Aegon International in 2011, a result which set her on course for the best season of her career so far.

In July 2011, she secured a stunning victory over Maria Sharapova in her first Wimbledon final.

Later that year, she reached a career-high world number 2 ranking and won the WTA Tour Championships at her first attempt.

Kvitova recently reached the third round of the French Open where she lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in a tough three-set battle. The former Wimbledon champion will be looking for a good result in Eastbourne this year.

Jelena Jankovic

Country: Serbia

World ranking: 7

Jelena Jankovic will definitely be one player to watch at the Aegon International.

Jankovic is a three-time French Open semi-finalist, a former Australian Open semi-finalist and was the 2008 US Open runner-up to Serena Williams.

The Serbian player won the Aegon Classic in Birmingham in 2007 and was also runner-up there two years ago. However, the biggest win of her career on grass came in the mixed doubles at the All England Club in 2007 when she achieved Grand Slam glory alongside Andy Murray’s brother Jamie.

Jankovic has had some encouraging performances in 2014 but she is still looking for her first title of the year. She was seeded 6 at the French Open, but lost in the fourth round to tenth seed Sara Errani of Italy.

The world number 7 hasn’t competed at Eastbourne since 2009 and is eager to get back on the courts at Devonshire Park.

Angelique Kerber

Country : Germany

World ranking: 9

Angelique Kerber is another former Eastbourne finalist in this year’s main draw at the Aegon International.

The German broke into the world’s top 5 in 2012 after winning her first two WTA titles in Paris and Copenhagen.

That year she also finished runner-up to Austria’s Tamira Paszek after a three-set battle in the final at Devonshire Park and went on to reach the semi-finals at the All England Club a few weeks later.

Kerber recently reached the fourth round at Roland Garros, where she lost to subsequent semi-finalist Eugenie Bouchard of Canada.

Sara Errani

Country: Italy

World ranking: 14

With seven WTA career singles titles to her name, Sara Errani is always a threat at any tournament.

The Italian was a French Open finalist in 2012 and reached the semi-finals last year. She was also a US Open semi-finalist two years ago.

Errani is also a formidable doubles player and has twice won the Australian Open with compatriot Roberta Vinci. The pair also took the French Open and US Open doubles titles in 2012.

Recently, the world number 14 reached the quarter-finals of the singles at the French Open, where she lost to Andrea Petkovic of Germany in straight sets.

She was also the runner-up in the women’s doubles with partner Vinci.

Caroline Wozniacki

Country: Denmark

World ranking: 16

Caroline Wozniacki is one of five former Eastbourne champions returning to Devonshire Park this summer.

In 2009 the Danish star beat Virginie Razzano of France to take the Aegon International title in a breakthrough year which also saw her finish runner-up to Kim Clijsters at the US Open in her first Grand Slam final. In doing so she became the first Danish player to reach a Grand Slam final in the Open era and ended the year as world number four.

Wozniacki spent two seasons as world number one, but has slipped down the rankings in the last couple of years.

This season has been difficult for the current world number 16, who has had to deal with wrist, shoulder and knee injuries, plus her highly publicised recent split from fiancé Rory McIroy.

The Danish star lost in the first round of the French Open at Roland Garros recently, but is hoping to find her form on the grass.

Richard Gasquet

Country: France

World ranking: 14

Richard Gasquet is the highest ranked player in the men’s draw and has shown in the past he’s a force to be reckoned with on grass.

The Frenchman won back-to-back titles in Nottingham in 2005 and 2006, and also got to the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2007.

The last few years have seen a resurgence in Gasquet’s fortunes. In 2013 he finished in the world’s top ten for the second year in a row and also reached his second career Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open.

An elegant player with a delightful backhand, Gasquet was seeded ninth for the Australian Open in January but lost in the third round.

Then, in April, he withdrew from ATP tournaments in Monte-Carlo and Madrid because of back problems. He was back on court for the French Open, where he was seeded 12, and got to the third round before losing in straight sets to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.

Alexandr Dolgopolov

Country: Ukraine

World ranking: 19

Alexandr Dolgopolov has shown he can produce some big surprises and he’s definitely one to keep an eye on at the Aegon International.

In 2011 Dolgopolov became the first player from the Ukraine to finish in the world’s top 20 since Andrei Medvedev in 1995.

After another top 20 season in 2012, he dropped out of the top 50 last year, but has come back with a vengeance in 2014.

In February the Ukrainian caused a big upset in the semi-finals of the Rio de Janeiro Open by beating Spain’s David Ferrer in straight sets.

The following month he secured the biggest win of his career by beating world number 1 and defending champion Rafael Nadal at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

It was Dolgopolov’s first victory over Nadal, having dropped all 10 sets played in five previous ATP Tour meetings with the Spanish star.

Feliciano Lopez

Country: Spain

World ranking: 29

Feliciano Lopez is the defending Aegon International men’s singles champion and is looking for a good performance in the final year of the men’s event at Eastbourne.

The 31-year-old left-hander held his nerve in challenging weather conditions to beat France’s Gilles Simon in last year’s final.

The world number 29 lost to Andy Murray in the third round of the Australian Open in January, but has played in two ATP Tour doubles finals this year.

Lopez reached a career high of world number 15 in 2012 and though he has slipped out of the top 20, the three-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist is always one to watch.

Gilles Simon

Country: France

World ranking: 36

Gilles Simon was runner-up at the Aegon International last year after reaching his first ever grass court final.

The Frenchman has 11 career singles titles to his name and reached a career high world number 6 ranking in 2009.

This year has been a challenge for the world number 36. He withdrew from a tournament in Rotterdam due to a back injury in February but then showed he is still a threat when he gave Rafael Nadal a run for his money in Rome in May. Nadal overcame the impressive Simon to win a three-set thriller after a gruelling 3 hours and 19 minutes.

However, the Frenchman’s performance suggests he still has what it takes to cause problems for the best in the game.