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Hampton into Eastbourne semifinals in three sets

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The Canadian Press
6/20/2013 11:24:19 AM
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EASTBOURNE, England -- Qualifier Jamie Hampton became the first American since Jennifer Capriati in 2003 to reach the Eastbourne semifinals after rallying past Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-4 on Thursday.

Hampton was unable to win any of her seven break points in the first set. Safarova broke to lead 4-3 in the second set and served for victory at 5-4, but the American broke back and even had a set point at 6-5 before sweeping the tiebreaker.

After an exchange of breaks early in the final set, Hampton broke again to lead 5-4.

The 23-year old was surprisingly downbeat about her successful week and didn't think she was playing her best tennis.

"I don't think so. I think that I'm playing good, solid tennis but I don't think I'm anywhere near my best," Hampton said.

"I was a little worked up today, actually, showed a little more emotion than I like. The conditions were tough. We were basically playing in a cloud. There was so much moisture in the air, and the court was slick so I was having a hard time with my footing and my movements. That was definitely bothering me a little bit."

She next plays fifth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who rallied to beat Russia's Ekaterina Makarova 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 in a contest between two former champions.

According to the WTA website, Hampton and Wozniacki have never met in one of its tournaments. Their only previous meeting came in the first round of the US Open junior event in 2005, with Hampton winning 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.

Li Na was less fortunate in the quarterfinals at Eastbourne, falling 7-6 (4), 6-3 to Russia's Elena Vesnina.

The players had contrasting paths to the last eight. Vesnina struggled through her first two matches to win both in three sets. Li, the 2011 French Open champion, had played just two sets before receiving a walkover in the second round.

The second-seeded Chinese player rarely looked comfortable. After sharing breaks in the first set, Vesnina took the tiebreaker. In the second set and after an exchange of breaks, a double-fault gave Vesnina a 5-3 lead and she served out for her third win over Li in four meetings.

"Today was, how you say, a little bit of surprise the way she's playing," Li said. "But for me I think sometimes I can play well, but sometimes I think I lose concentration on the court."

Vesnina now faces Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer, who upset sixth-seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia 6-2, 1-6, 7-5.

On the men's side, Feliciano Lopez beat Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 7-6 (6) to reach the final four in a battle of Spanish lefthanders.

The match was delayed for 90 minutes by light rain. Just one break of serve at 2-2 decided the opening set, and Verdasco was unhappy about the grass-court conditions.

Lopez saved a break point to hold for 2-2 and a second set point at 5-4. He rallied from 4-1 down in the tiebreaker.

"Until last couple of games of the match, the court was not good enough to play, but sometimes on grass you have to play on these conditions," Lopez said. "Sometimes with the grass is difficult ... because you feel that you are not safe. But they tell you to play and you have to play."

Jamie Hampton (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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