Grass is greener for Canucks

BILL LANKHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

The Canadian entries in next week's Wimbledon may be more than mere cannon fodder if the Eastbourne Championships are any indication.

Aleksandra Wozniak, of Blainville, Que., and Frank Dancevic, of Niagara Falls, Ont., scored upset wins for the second consecutive day at the Wimbledon tune-up.

"I don't think it's happened too many times in history that we've had two Canadians in the semifinals of a world-class event," said Dancevic, who had to fight back to beat Leonardo Mayer 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5.

"It's a bit weird to have two people in the semifinals when you have France, Spain and Russia having so many athletes and they're pretty much out of the picture," said Martin Laurendeau, the coach behind Dancevic's resurgence.

A couple of months ago, Dancevic probably would've found a way to lose yesterday's match.

And, he'd probably have done it by beating himself.

"The No. 1 thing we've addressed is the competitive side of things,'' Laurendeau, who recently replaced Leo Lavalle as Dancevic's coach, said. "Especially leading into a Grand Slam.

"Frank had a tough time the last four or five months with injuries and a lot of first-round loses. He was all over the place with his game and his confidence."

The sudden reversal at Eastbourne, including 11 aces in a 78-minute victory over top seed Igor Andreev of Russia, may seem improbable. Not to Dancevic.

"Last year I played well on grass, too," and, he says, his confidence never wavered even when he lost the first set yesterday.

"I was struggling with confidence and match wins," Dancevic said during a conference call.

"(Yesterday's) match was almost all mental. I ended up playing a very tough first set where I should've won the tie-breaker but ended up missing a couple of shots I shouldn't have missed.

"It helped me a lot psychologically getting through this match ... once you start winning a few matches against good players, like beating the No. 1 seed here.

"All of sudden it gave me confidence to run through the whole week -- to play aggressive."

SHE BELONGS

Wozniak followed up her opening-round victory over French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova when she breezed past Russian Vera Dushevina 6-1, 6-0.

"Definitely it's one of my best runs,'' Wozniak said.

"I've progressed a lot in the last year and I'm starting to feel like I belong with the best players.

"It's like everything has just come together."

In today's semis, Wozniak meets Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, while Dancevic plays Fabrice Santoro.


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