By Ros Satar
(June 20, 2013) EASTBOURNE, England – The playing conditions on Thursday started in the murk of a mist coming in off the sea, a complete contrast to the hot sunny conditions the day before.
No sooner had the first players made their way out and finished knocking up, a persistent bout of rain saw play suspended for over an hour.
When play did resume, it was in a backdrop of mist or, as we learned, a sea-fret [a wet mist or haze coming inland from the sea].
Either way, visibility was poor for the first set or so, causing issues in the early matches.
Feliciano Lopez def. Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 7-6(6)
Verdasco had not been happy about the restart even before the match started, complaining to ATP tour supervisor Tom Barnes.
The conditions better suited Lopez, who dialed into his serve well today, taking advantage of the muggier conditions to put his slice to effective use.
Verdasco was less than pleased with the decisions made after the match, claiming: “(If) I was Rafael Nadal, I can say, I don’t play, and I’m pretty sure that the ATP will say, Okay, we wait till the court is good.
“But because I’m not Nadal or Federer or any of these guys, I need to do what the ATP wants, because if I said, I go, the tournament will not say, we wait.
“Then I will get a fine from the ATP because I didn’t want to play in the bad conditions.”
Verdasco went on to describe the close friendship that he shares with Lopez, and how he was able to joke about hating him (not to mention a description that would send the elderly of Eastbourne to an early grave).
Lopez agreed that conditions today had been difficult with the humidity but took Verdasco’s comments at the end in good humor.
Lopez will face Ivan Dodig in the semifinals.
Jamie Hampton def. Lucie Safarova 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-4
Another player who had to contend with the unusual weather was Jamie Hampton who took a couple of tumbles on her way to winning a taut three-setter against Safarova.
The haze over Court 1 was quite considerable when they resumed play, as Hampton explained.
“We were basically playing in a cloud. There was so much moisture in the air, and the court was slick so I was having a hard time with my footing and my movements.”
Hampton will become the No. 3 American on Monday when the new rankings come out, behind Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens.
Elena Vesnina def. Li Na 7-6(4), 6-3
Another top seed was heading up to SW19 early, as Li Na headed out of Eastbourne, care of Vesnina.
By her own admission, the match had been a little in and out for her: “Sometimes I can play well, but sometimes I think I lose concentration on the court.
“Of course I would like to do more matches [and] still looking forward for Wimbledon.”
Caroline Wozniacki def. Ekaterina Makarova 4-6, 6-0, 6-3
Caroline Wozniacki made sure a lines-judge felt her wrath after being called on a foot fault in the second set.
First arguing with the umpire, then demonstrating to the judge in question how her heel bone was connected to the anklebone, or at the very least explaining the rules.
Finally the umpire had to intervene and redirect Wozniacki’s focus back to playing the match.
Whatever the issue was, it irked here enough to rip through the second set without dropping a game, leaving Makarova looking stunned at the changeover before losing the deciding the set.
Wozniacki was unrepentant in her press conference about perhaps the lines judge wanting to feel “important”:
“I don’t see a reason other than that why you wanted to call a foot fault on a second serve that isn’t a foot fault.”
Wozniacki is the sole surviving seed, and faces Jamie Hampton in the semi final.
Gilles Simon def. Bernard Tomic 7-6(8), 6-3
The last match of the day saw France’s Gilles Simon advance to the semifinals over Bernard Tomic.
Tomic seemed to have lost heart after losing a tight tie-break, down 1-4 after a brief rain shower but managed to regroup a little.
Rounding out the singles action, Yanina Wickmayer knocked out the sixth seed Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 1-6, 7-5.
Ros Satar is a British Journalist – an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She’s covering the AEGON International this week as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her personal twitter at @rfsatar.