Guillaume Rufin (FRA) and Melanie Oudin (USA) boosted their confidence ahead of Wimbledon past week claiming the Grade 1 Roehampton titles on Friday.
For Oudin the win marked her third victory in four tournaments this year, with all her wins coming at Grade 1 level. The American has now won seven tournaments within the last year, six of them Grade 1s, and with the world number one and Roland Garros champion Simona Halep not competing at Wimbledon, Oudin must be the firm favourite.
A feature of Oudin’s play this year has been how easily she has won most of her matches; before Roehampton she had lost just four sets in her 16 matches in 2008. True to form, she eased past her first four opponents last week without dropping more than four games in any match. In the semis she faced a stronger challenge from 14th seed Lesley Kerkhove (NED), who took the first set 61 before Oudin hit back and won the next two relatively easily, 62 61. Oudin’s final opponent was unseeded Laura Robson, one of the future hopes of British tennis. The 14-year-old had beaten 11th seed Mallory Burdette (USA) for the loss of just one game in the second round, and knocked out sixth seed Johanna Konta in the following round. In the semis Robson defeated another up and coming young player, 15-year-old French girl Kristina Mladenovic. British hopes of a home victory were raised briefly when Robson took the first set of the final 75, but Oudin gradually regained control of the match and took the next two sets 62 62.
Guillaume Rufin headed into Roehampton with a grass court title already under his belt this year, having won the Grade 2 Gerry Weber Open the previous week. The Frenchman has been gradually making his way up the rankings, but the grass court season seems to be representing a real breakthrough for him.
Rufin benefited from an early exodus of the seeds from his quarter of the draw. With top seed Tsung-Hua Yang (TPE), fifth seed Ryan Harrison (USA), ninth seed Peerakit Siributwong (THA) and 14th seed Alexandre Folie (BEL) all losing in the first round, Rufin had a straightforward path through to the semifinals. There he faced his first seeded opponent, 13th seed Bradley Klahn of the USA. Klahn had defeated Rufin in a nailbiting third-set tie-break in the semis of the Grade 1 Nottinghill tournament in Australia in January, but the unseeded player took his revenge this time around with a 63 64 win.
His final opponent was another British player, qualifier Daniel Smethurst. Like Rufin, Smethurst took advantage of the early departure of several top seeds and made his way to the final beating no-one ranked higher than 15th seed Christopher Rungkat (INA). Like his compatriot Laura Robson in the girls’ final, Smethurst got off to a quick start and had his chances in the first set before losing it 75. The second set was all Rufin as he pulled away to record a 75 62 victory and claim his first Grade 1 title.