'Naff games' cost Baltacha £50,000

Eleven years have elapsed since Conchita Martinez denied Martina Navratilova a 10th Wimbledon singles title, but the Spaniard, on her day, is still capable of frustrating opponents.

Eleven years have elapsed since Conchita Martinez denied Martina Navratilova a 10th Wimbledon singles title, but the Spaniard, on her day, is still capable of frustrating opponents.

The 33-year-old from Monzon eliminated Elena Baltacha in the first round at the Hastings Direct International Championships here yesterday, after the British No 1 raised home hopes in the second set. Martinez then eased away to win 7-5, 2-6, 6-1.

It could be argued that Martinez denied Baltacha a £50,000 bonus, offered by the sponsors to any British player who reached the quarter-finals. But to have achieved that, Baltacha would have had to overcome Martinez and then Kim Clijsters, the former world No 1, in the second round.

Clijsters, who made the point that "Conchita has a tricky game on grass", was proved correct. The windy conditions were also tricky yesterday, particularly when the players tossed the ball and hoped it would still be there when they tried to serve.

Baltacha was almost swept away at the start of the match, losing the opening four games before breaking for 1-4 and then hitting a couple of aces to hold for 2-4. Baltacha struck again, breaking to 4-5 as Martinez served for the set, and then saving two set points to hold for 5-5. When serving to stay in the set at 5-6, however, Baltacha double-faulted on the fifth set point.

Baltacha put that disappointment behind her, won the opening two games of the second set and had a break point for 3-0. Even though Martinez broke back to 2-2, Baltacha had the confidence to restore her lead in the next game and broke again for 5-2 before levelling the contest on her third set point.

Unfortunately for the home crowd, Baltacha went down hill from there. Angry at herself for "playing three naff games" at the start of the final set, she lost two more before salvaging her pride by holding for 1-5 after saving three match points. Martinez converted the fourth in the next game.

"It's disappointing that I allowed the match to get away from me like that," Baltacha said. "But it's encouraging I could play to the level of a player of that standard."

Clijsters, competing on grass for the first time since losing to Venus Williams in the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2003, was delighted to win her opening match against the 20th-ranked Jelena Jankovic, of Serbia, 6-1, 7-6.

The Belgian seventh seed was also pleased to be pain-free after being handicapped by wrist and knee injuries recently, and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere of calm at Devonshire Park.

"At least the umpires here don't have to say 'quiet, please, the players are ready'," she said.

Jankovic, a finalist in Birmingham last week, struck the ball well with little reward in the opening set, which lasted only 23 minutes, and recovered well after losing the first two games of the second.

The 20-year-old from Belgrade had reason to question a baseline call with Clijsters serving to stay in the second set at 5-6, 15-15. But there was no over-rule, and Clijsters won the next three points to force a tie-break.

Jankovic, struggling to regain her concentration, lost the first six points of the shoot-out. "Whoops," she said, after walking to the wrong side of the baseline to receive serve on the seventh point. She won that one with a potent return, and the next, at which stage Clijsters finished the job, 7-2, after 70 minutes.

"I think it helped that I was here for a week practising," Clijsters said. "I arrived three or four days before the other players came and found it very relaxing."

Voices
voices
News
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
newsBumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, it is claimed
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
newsHad asteroid hit earlier or later in history, the creatures might have survived, say scientists
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried