US qualifier Hampton reaches Eastbourne final

Friday - 6/21/2013, 11:27am EDT

Jamie Hampton of the US, makes a return to Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki during their AEGON International semi final match, at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, England, Friday June 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Gareth Fuller/PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT

EASTBOURNE, England (AP) -- American qualifier Jamie Hampton reached the first final of her career when she upset 2009 champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-7 (8), 7-5, 6-3 at Eastbourne on Friday.

She'll attempt to become the first American to take the title since Chanda Rubin beat Conchita Martinez in 2003 when she faces Russian Elena Vesnina in the final on Saturday.

Vesnina beat Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 6-2, 6-0 in just 51 minutes. She'll be bidding for her second title of the year after winning Hobart in January.

Hampton took 2 hours, 44 minutes to secure her victory in a match that included 35 break points and 14 breaks of serve.

"I stuck with it," Hampton said. "I think that I stayed positive even though I had a few set points in the first and kind of choked them away a little bit and got down a break in the second."

The American had several opportunities to win the opening set, holding three set points at 5-4, serving for the set at 5-4 and 6-5 and holding two more set points in the tiebreaker.

In the second set, Wozniacki struck a dazzling crosscourt backhand winner to break for 5-4 before rain caused a brief delay.

Upon the restart, Wozniacki failed to serve out the match and Hampton held off two break points to hold for 6-5 and broke for 7-5 on her third set point.

After an early exchange of breaks in the final set, Wozniacki netted a backhand to give Hampton a decisive break for 5-3.

Hampton was serving at 2-4 and down love-40 when she managed to avoid the break.

"Just to get the hold there and stick with it and stay positive was definitely a plus," she said. "I'm definitely proud of myself."

Hampton will face American Sloane Stephens in the first round at Wimbledon. The draw was announced Friday.

"It's a bit of a bummer that two Americans have to play first round, but I'm going to treat it just like every other match," Hampton said. "But we're not there. I have a match tomorrow to worry about yet."

Wozniacki said the wind made for difficult conditions on the court.

"I had my chances, I didn't take them and she played very well, I have to say," Wozniacki said.

Wozniacki, who went 1-5 recently on clay, said she's ready for the grass-court season heading into Wimbledon.

"Overall I'm feeling good, I feel happy to be on grass," she said. "I feel like my game is where I want it to be."

In the semifinals of the men's event, Ivan Dodig of Croatia plays Feliciano Lopez of Spain, and second-seeded Gilles Simon faces seventh-seeded Andrea Seppi.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.