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BIRMINGHAM POST - 11/06/2008

Melanie South flies flag for Britain at DFS Classi

Melanie South will try to halt the natural realignment of the tennis stars when she takes on No 15 seed Aiko Nakamura in her attempt to become the first Briton ever to reach the quarter-finals of the DFS Classic.

The British No 3 must not only defy history, however, she must also bridge the 76-place gap that separates her from the Japanese player who has been inside the top 50 in the last year.

She remains the only home grown player in the tournament after Wednesday's second round defeats for Katie O’Brien and Naomi Cavaday – both of whom had chances to progress but could not capitalise – and has already become the first player since Julie Pullin in 2002 to win two main draw matches.

If she succeeds she will go one step better than British tennis legends Sue Barker and Jo Durie who both failed to make it into the last eight at Edgbaston Priory.

It would also be the perfect preparation for Wimbledon, which starts on Monday week, for which she has been awarded a wild card into the main draw and presented with an opportunity to climb the rankings

While South did not play on Wednesday, having already beaten compatriot Anna Fitzpatrick and No 4 seed Sybille Bammer earlier this week, Nakamura needed three sets to defeat Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

The Surrey-based right-hander has already won one satellite tournament this year and having knocked out a player who is ranked 28 in the last round will be confident of providing further proof of the upturn in the fortunes of women’s tennis in this country.

by Brian Dick

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