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Tennis - 12. June 2009.

Wildcards for Kuznetsova, Keothavong and Baltacha


Reigning French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and Britain’s top-ranked singles players Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha have received wildcards into the women's main draw at the AEGON International in Eastbourne.


Kuznetsova has played at Devonshire Park four times in the past, winning the title in 2004. The world No.5 explained that she needed a WTA Tour wildcard in order to play the main draw of the event.


“I always play in Eastbourne but somehow I managed to forget to enter this year so I really appreciate the opportunity to play here again,” said the Russian 23-year-old.


“I like the tournament and I like Eastbourne and really enjoy competing here. I’m glad to be back and I’m looking forward to playing on the grass courts this week.”


British No.1 Anne Keothavong said she will be looking to the courts of Devonshire Park to fine tune her preparations for The Championships, Wimbledon.


“It’s fantastic to be part of such a strong filed in Eastbourne,” said the 26-year-old who is now ranked No.49 in the world. “It’s a perfect place to get matches before Wimbledon and I always love playing in front of my home crowd.”


This is Keothavong’s, eighth appearance at the AEGON International, the Hackney-born player competing in main draw five times and in qualifying on a further three occasions.


British No.2 Elena Baltacha is another Eastbourne competitor of long standing. She first made the trip to Devonshire Park in 2001 and her best performance at the tournament came in 2007 when she won three qualifying matches before reaching the second round of the main draw.


“Eastbourne is my favourite tournament and to get an opportunity to play in the main draw is a real honour,” said Baltacha. “Even though it’s a strong field I feel like I’m playing well enough at the moment to maybe rattle a few players.”


The 25-year-old said she was looking forward to an even more exciting atmosphere than usual when action at the first combined event in the tournament’s history kicks off.


“It adds to the drama to have the guys here as well. It’s always great to play in front of my home crowd and Eastbourne the public can get really close to the court which makes it a wonderful atmosphere to play in,”  said Baltacha.


Women’s main draw matches at the AEGON International are scheduled to begin on Monday, June 15, with men’s main draw matches starting on Sunday, June 14.


Qualifying for the  women’s main draws begins on Saturday June 13.

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