Ahl excels but Pullin follows Latimer to exit

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The Independent Online

Julie Pullin yesterday followed the British No 1 Louise Latimer out of the DFS Classic at Edgbaston Priory on its first morning. Pullin, who has slipped to third in the national rankings, was beaten, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 by the Slovenian Tina Pisnik, ranked 97 places higher in the world.

Pullin's exit followed hot on the heels of Latimer's surprise demise at the hands of the Japanese Yuka Yoshida in the final qualifying stage on Sunday.

Lucie Ahl, however, lifted the clouds by getting the better of the American Jennifer Hopkins in a stirring three-setter. The 26-year-old from Exeter, held her nerve in the final set tie-break to overcome an opponent ranked 102 places higher in the world, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6.

Ahl, who had been broken to love in the first game of the final set, recovered immediately and broke again to lead 5-3 and serve for the match. Her failure to convert two match points in the ninth game looked like proving costly as Hopkins broke back, and Ahl, the British No 2, wasted a third match point at 6-5 before taking the tie-break 7-3.

Ahl, who hit the headlines last year at Wimbledon by hammering Barbara Schwartz 6-0, 6-3 for her first Grand Slam win, continues this year's preparations with a second-round match against Australia's Rachel McQuillan.

Lindsay Davenport said yesterday that she will compete at Eastbourne later this month after recovering from the knee injury which ruled her out of the French Open.

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