>> Friday, June 22, 2012
A rising German star and a surprise finalist is set to battle for this year's 2012 AEGON International women's singles crown. World no. 9 Angelique Kerber is vying for her third tournament win this year while Tamira Paszek is hoping to revive a season where she lost in 11 first round matches and won only two matches prior to the start of the tournament. Watch the 2012 Aegon Internation women's final live online here featuring Kerber vs Paszek as both women go for their first ever title in Eastbourne, England. The match will start at 12 noon local time on Saturday, June 23, 2012.
While Kerber is seeded fifth, Paszek is unseeded in a tournament where the top three seeds were all beaten in the first round. World no. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska, world no. 4 and reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, and world no. 7 and former world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki all lost their opening matches. Kerber advanced to the final with a 60 63 win over Klara Zakopalova while Paszek advanced by rallying past world no. 9 and former Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli to move into her very first Premier final.
Paszek, who was already in her first Premier semifinal, lost the first set then was down 4-0 in the second set and 2-0 in the third but fought back each time, eventually beating the No.9-ranked Frenchwoman in three hours, five minutes. "Early in the second set I had my chances, but with the wind things just weren't working out," Paszek said. "But I just tried to stay there. I knew I was at the same level, and that I just had to wait for my chances again. Chances came... It feels amazing to be in the final. I love Eastbourne. My godparents live here, so for me it already feels like home. It's a pleasure coming back every year."
Paszek already showed signs of her grass court prowess last year, when she made her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon. "We have a pretty green country at home, it's probably that," the Austrian joked. "No - it just suits my game, same as hardcourt. I love fast surfaces. I just enjoy the grass. It's a special atmosphere to come here and have the different shoes, and all in white." Paszek got the third Top 10 win of her career, having beaten Ana Ivanovic at Montréal in 2008 and Francesca Schiavone at Wimbledon last year.
Bartoli needed a strapping on her thigh when she trailed 2-3 in the final set. "It was a nightmare to play in these conditions, honestly," said the 2007 Wimbledon finalist. "My leg got pretty tight and then tired, but I think in two or three days it will be back to normal... I felt I had chances in almost every game and ended up losing them. In these conditions, even if I was leading, you never felt comfortable... I didn't make one ace today, where yesterday I served 10 or 12. It's really levelling when you have those kind of conditions.
Bartoli was disappointed but very gracious towards Paszek. "I lost the match so I can't really say I'm happy about it, but on the other hand I really felt like I tried my hardest and there wasn't much I could have done better," Bartoli said. "And Tamira played really well. She deserved to win. She really fought hard and came back to win the match. Of course I'm disappointed, but I tried my hardest."
As for Kerber, she won her last three matches in straight sets but unlike Paszek who beat two seeded players on her way to the final, Kerber didn't meet a single seeded player. She raced into the final taking the first seven games of her match with Zakopalova and closing the Czech out after a closer second set, 60 63. "I came here a week ago and the plan was to have a lot of matches before Wimbledon, so it feels very good," Kerber said. "I can't get any more matches than this now, so I'll just focus on my last match here and then on Wimbledon... It's my first time reaching a final on grass, and it's a big thing for me."
Kerber's win was also her 40th match win of the year, the first to cross the big 4-0 this year (Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska are next at 38). Kerber and Paszek have an identical 2-1 career record in WTA finals, though Kerber is the only one who has been to a Premier final before (winning Paris [Indoors] this year). The winner will receive $107,000 in prize money and 470 ranking points. The runner-up will take home $57,000 in earnings and 320 ranking points.
Watch 2012 Aegon Internation women's final live online from Eastbourne featuring Kerber vs Paszek at TennisTV.com.