Wood loses her grip

Tennis

Tennis

JOHN ROBERTS

reports from Brighton

Before dropping out of her home tournament yesterday, Clare Wood came up with a startling shot: the no-handed backhand. Her grip slipped as she stretched for a ball lobbed by Helena Sukova, and her racket landed on her opponent's side of the net.

The premature departures of Steffi Graf and Jana Novotna had left the international women's event desperate for a touch of enterprise as the show draws towards a close after a run of 18 years, but that was not exactly what the organisers had in mind. "Clare's a very dangerous player," Sukova said, "speaking in general terms."

It is doubtful that Wood would have reached the ball anyway, and when she failed to keep a forehand in the court on the next point, Sukova was a break up after the opening game and on her way to a 6-2, 7-6 victory and a place in the quarter-finals.

To be fair, Wood competed well after losing the first four games and might have extended the contest but for double-faulting and hitting a forehand over the baseline when leading 2-0 in the second set. She had pushed Sukova to three sets in their previous two matches (the Czech now leads their head-to-head series 5-0).

Wood, who received a wild card, was guaranteed a return to the world's top 200 after winning her opening match against Karina Habsudova, of Slovakia, and has set herself the target of a place in the top 50 by this time next year. It is encouraging to know that the British women's game is not lacking in optimism.

The 30-year-old Sukova is ranked No 20 and on her day poses a threat to the best. Indeed, having reached the final on her last two visits to the Brighton Centre, and witnessed the elimination of the two players who denied her the title - Graf in 1990, Novotna last year - the sixth seed must be quietly fancying her chances of taking the first prize of pounds 51,633.

Before leaving the Czech Republic for Brighton, Sukova checked Teletext for news about the tournament. "I read that Steffi Graf would be playing a qualifier and that the real competition would come in the final when she played Jana Novotna," she said.

Events do not necessarily go according to plan or seedings. When the Brighton tournament began in 1978, the top seeds, Chris Evert and Virginia Wade, gave way to Betty Stove and Virginia Ruzici respectively, and Ruzici defeated Stove in the final. Sue Barker was among the first-round losers, but in 1981 became the only Briton to win the title.

Sukova's next opponent is Magdalena Maleeva, the third seed. The Bulgarian lost the opening set of her match against Germany's Barbara Rittner, 1-6, but recovered to win the next two sets, 6-4, 6-1.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Caption competition
Caption competition
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.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash