Baltacha rallies to avoid 6-0, 6-0, but still slides out

Click to follow
The Independent Online

When Elena Baltacha lost the first set to Agnieszka Radwanska without winning a game yesterday she recalled the experience here last year of her predecessor as British No 1, Anne Keothavong, who was beaten 6-0, 6-0 by Dinara Safina.

"That quickly went out of my mind though," Baltacha said after eventually losing 6-0, 7-5. "I thought: 'No, with the way I'm playing, I'm better than that.' Even though clay isn't my very best surface, I was determined there was no way it was going to be 6-0, 6-0."

Baltacha, who was making her debut in the main draw here, had good reason to be pleased with her battling second-set performance against the world No 8. Radwanska hardly made a mistake in the first set, but in the second Baltacha pushed the 21-year-old Pole all the way. At 5-5 she failed to convert a break point and was punished when Radwanska broke to win the match in the following game. Katie O'Brien, who meets Jill Craybas today, is the last British woman left in the competition.

"I wish I had played like that in the first set," Baltacha said. "The first set was really difficult. She just came out and I think she hardly made any unforced errors at all. In the second set my quality definitely improved. I started being much more aggressive and by the end I had opportunities, but I just couldn't quite dominate. I wish there had been another set."

Baltacha, who is enjoying the best run of her career, will now prepare for tournaments at Nottingham, Birmingham, Eastbourne and Wimbledon. "I always look forward to the grass," she said. "It really suits my game. I just love being out there, plus, it's at home. It can't get better than that. It's really a special time of the year for me."

Serena Williams, the world No 1, beat Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele 7-6, 6-2 but was far from satisfied with her performance, particularly in the first set. The power of the American's serve saved the day in the tie-break, after which Voegele appeared to lose heart.

Williams said she was unhappy with her game "across the board" but could not pinpoint the problem. "I've been practising so well, but it just didn't work for me today," she said. "That being said, I'm happy to win and just go."

Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 champion, maintained her recent improvement when she beat Taiwan's Chang Kai-chen 6-3, 6-3, while Caroline Wozniacki, the world No 3, beat Russia's Alla Kudryavtseva 6-0, 6-3.