Bouchard defies rain to reach Eastbourne 2nd round
Eastbourne: Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard beat Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 6-2 in the rain-affected first round of the Eastbourne International on Monday.
The 46th-ranked Canadian, who lost to Petra Kvitova in the 2014 Wimbledon final, won her second grasscourt match of the season against the American.
Bouchard is playing the main draw in Eastbourne for just the second time after reaching the third round a year ago.
Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, the 2014 champion, produced one of three defeats of British women on the day, dispatching 229th-ranked Tara Moore 7-5, 6-4.
Her compatriot Elena Vesnina, who won the trophy in 2010, beat Heather Watson 6-2, 6-3 and next plays holder Belinda Bencic.
Monica Puig of Puerto Rico put out Naomi Broady 6-1, 6-1 to complete a miserable day for home players at Devonshire Park.
German Andrea Petkovic advanced over Zheng Saisai of China in a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 comeback victory.
Bencic was eager for training time during the day’s rainy start, but puzzled as to why organisers failed to cover any of the training courts.
The overnight and morning rain which soaked the seaside facility did little to help the courts, left to the elements on a chilly day of 15 Celsius temperatures.
“I was hoping for today but it doesn’t look good,” said Swiss Bencic, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska a year ago to win the title. “When they don’t cover the courts, we have no chance to practise.
“I guess it’s the same for everyone, but still it’s a little bit of a disadvantage.”
Local officials explained that the training courts have no proper drainage, which is required to make covers work. As the area is a public park for the rest of the year, the investment was likely not deemed critical.
The 19-year-old Bencic, ranked eighth, is keen to get stuck into her final week before the June 27 start of Wimbledon after slightly injuring her leg when slipping last week in Birmingham, a fall which forced her to retire in the first round.
Bencic is due to play only her third event since missing the clay season with back problems. She reached the semi-finals on grass in the Netherlands earlier this month.
“Everyone has injuries at some point of their career, so I’m not the first person to get an injury. Obviously the other girls have also had a little something.
“This (the back) was my first or second serious injury, I just take it as a part of the job. It’s nothing special.”
– No pressure -Bencic expressed no worries as she returns to full-time tennis with Wimbledon bearing down.
“Why would I feel pressure? Of course it’s ranking points, but every week someone is defending points somewhere.
“It’s just a normal situation. I don’t feel any pressure and have no expectations because I haven’t played a lot of matches lately.”
Top seed Radwanska is also looking for training time amid the weather chaos.
The Pole, who won the title on the south coast eight years ago, said that she has barely had time for any outdoor practise but is counting on better weather forecast for much of the week.
“It’s only one day like this. A couple of times I just finished five minutes before the rain. I’m hoping it will be much better than the last week.”