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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

French Take Wimbledon Warmups




EASTBOURNE, England -- Julie Halard-Decugis will go into Wimbledon next week with her confidence high after overcoming fifth seed Dominique Van Roost of Belgium 7-6, (6-4), 6-4 to win the Eastbourne Grasscourt Championships on Saturday.


It was her first title since she won in Birmingham a year ago, also on grass. Her latest win earned Halard-Decugis $87,000.


The match stretched over nearly 4 1/2 hours because of rain. It was first delayed by 35 minutes, and after just three games it was interrupted a second time for nearly three hours.


"I tried not to think about the weather too much and to focus on my game," said Halard-Decugis.


"At the end it was raining again a little bit and for sure I was a little bit tense," she added. "The grass was also getting a little bit slippery, but for sure it was better to finish today than to play again tomorrow."


Halard-Decugis quickly established a 2-1 lead when she broke with a double-handed backhand volley. But with with both players struggling to hold serve, Van Roost managed to level for 3-3 when a fine cross-court forehand forced an error.


There was little between the two baseliners, who both played aggressively and attacked behind big forehands.


The sixth seed regained the lead to serve for the set at 5-4, but although Van Roost broke her easily and the set eventually went to a tiebreaker, Halard-Decugis claimed the final four points.


The second set also remained finely balanced. Halard-Decugis broke to lead 3-1 when Van Roost double-faulted, but lost her break immediately. Van Roost then held a break point for 4-3, but found herself down 5-3 after another double-fault.


Once again Halard-Decugis failed to serve out the set, making a double-fault herself before finally breaking again for the match.


"It was just a few shots made the difference," said Van Roost. "Maybe she was a little more consistent. Both of [us] played a great match, but at the end I think I was a little bit tired from all the matches I played yesterday. It is not an excuse, because she also played a great match today and was better than me."


French claycourt specialist Sebastien Grosjean completed the perfect preparation for Wimbledon on Saturday by beating Byron Black 7-6, 6-3 in the grasscourt Nottingham Open final, Reuters reported.


Grosjean, ranked 31 in the world, captured his first Tour title after losing his three previous final appearances at major tournaments.


The early exits of former Wimbledon finalist Cedric Pioline and Briton Tim Henman cleared the way for the fourth seed, but he was the first to admit surprise at his success.


"I was shocked to win the tournament because at the start of the week I did not think I had a hope of winning," said Grosjean, who will meet Jeff Tarango in the first round at Wimbledon, which started Monday.


"Grass is difficult for me to play on and there were some good players here this week."


Zimbabwe's Black had chances to win the first set but failed to adapt to the blustery conditions.


"Jonas Bjorkman [a defeated semifinalist] told me yesterday to watch his inside-out forehand, his style is deceptive and he still pulled me around the court," said Black.


"We have played three times and on each occasion it has been tight but he has always beaten me. My first service was missing today, which meant I struggled."