Wednesday proved to be a bad day for the British at the AEGON International as Laura Robson, Heather Watson, Elena Baltacha and Kyle Edmund all crashed out of the tournament at the second-round stage, wiping out all hopes of a home success story.
British women’s number one Laura Robson played in the showpiece game of the day as she faced fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki on Centre Court but, despite her best efforts, could not get the better of the world number seven.
Robson matched her opponent shot for shot throughout much of the match but a series of double faults and unforced errors cost her and highlighted the fact that the 19-year-old’s game is not yet the finished article.
After losing the first set and going a break down in the second, Laura had battled back to level the game but, despite swifter movement and a collection of impressive winners, she ended up frustrated and defeated 6-4, 6-4.
Elena Baltacha was equally as unfortunate to be edged out of her hard-fought second-round contest as she was beaten in three sets by sixth seed Maria Kirilenko.
Baltacha, ranked 185 in the world, was in impressive form early on and after breaks in games three and five, went in front, taking the first set 6-4.
A nervy second set went with serve until game six, with both players treating the crowd to some wonderful tennis. Baltacha, in particular, pleased the home-crowd with two exquisite lobs that had Kirilenko scrambling.
However, the Russian broke in the sixth game and looked in control for the remainder of the set, holding on to take it 6-4 and send the match into a decider.
Both players looked to be tiring as the final set got underway on the sun-baked Eastbourne court, with the rallies seemingly getting longer with every point. However, it was the Russian who managed to get the first and only break of the set in the fifth game to secure victory 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in just over two and a half hours.
Watson’s defeat was slightly more comprehensive, losing out to world number 36 Elena Vesnina 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.
The British number two was broken three times in a swift opening set before getting her act together to take the second set 6-3, winning each of her three break points.
However, the third set was almost a repeat of the first, with Watson later admitting to drifting in and out of focus – an error that eventually allowed Vesnina to stroll to a 6-2 set victory and progress to the third round.
British hopes were destroyed completely by the exit of Kyle Edmund, who put up a fantastic fight against second seed Gilles Simon.
The British number 13 defied a 362-rank difference to reach the second round on his senior ATP debut but failed to get a second scalp under his belt as Simon snatched the victory.
It was a case of so near yet so far away for Edmund, who’s ranked 444 in the world, with only two tie-breaks separating the pair. However, it was here that world number 17 Simon showed his class, triumphing 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3).
Elsewhere, 2011 champ Marion Bartoli withdrew through injury, sending Li Na through to face Vesnina in the quarter-final on Centre Court tomorrow (Thursday).
There were a handful of shocks during the day with top men’s seed Milos Raonic crashing out in straight sets to Croatian Ivan Dodig.
Fourth seed Jaun Monaco followed him out the exit door after failing to get past Feliciano Lopez, who completed the 6-4, 6-4 victory in just one hour and ten minutes.
In the women’s draw, 2011 Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova was the victim of an upset as world number 51 Yanina Wickmayer came from one set down to triumph.
Last year’s finalist and third seed Angelique Kerber was also dumped out of the tournament at the hands of Ekaterina Makarova while American qualifier Jamie Hampton continues to make waves, beating Su-Wei Hsieh 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).
The women’s quarter-finals are set-up as follows: Vesnina v Li Na, Makarova v Wozniacki, Hampton v Safarova and Kirilenko v Wickmayer.
The men’s quarter-finals are set-up as follows: Lopez v Verdasco, Dodig v Fognini, Seppi v Stepanek and Tomic v Simon.