Eastbourne | Brits bow out as Paolini lines up Kasatkina and Keys takes on Fernandez in Last 4

The 3 Britons were unable to progress beyond the quarter-finals at the Rothesay International in Eastbourne on Thursday in what was the first time in 46 years that 3 British women had reached the Last 8, but, just like Anne Hobbs, Michelle ­Tyler and ­Virginia Wade at the 1978 Colgate ­International, neither Katie Boulter, Emma Raducanu or Harriet Dart could progress any further, all bowing out in the windy conditions on the south coast.

It’s very difficult to do some nice things, so you have to play, and try to win as many points as you can. Try to put as many balls as you can inside the court. And I think I did this pretty good today. [Paolini] is having a great season. She's playing amazing, she's on fire. But I'm also not too bad. I think it's going to be a good match tomorrow. Daria Kasatkina

First up was Dart, who had ­concerns over a knee injury after her impressive win over Sofia Kenin in the previous round, and lost on Court 1 to Canadian Leylah Fernandez, the former US Open finalist taking just 70 minutes to win 6-2 6-1.

Fernandez advanced to her first semi-final of the year, and the left-hander is feeling comfortable on the grass.

“I’m not the biggest, nor the strongest, out there on tour,” Fernandez said, “But I do know that, if I move my feet right, and I have a solid base on my legs, then I will be able to hit the balls that I want, in the direction that I want it. So, for me, the key is the legs and the footwork.”

The 21-year-old Fernandez proved very effective against the British No 2, and next will face defending champion Madison Keys, after the American advanced by way of a walkover when Czech Karolina Muchova withdrew because of a right wrist injury.

Muchova was making her return to the WTA Tour this week after undergoing wrist surgery, but later the Czech said her withdrawal was for precautionary reasons.

“It was my first tournament back after a while, and nobody knew what to expect, or how my body would react,” Muchova said in statement later. “Today I woke up, and when I tried to warm up the body and the wrist, it was a little stiff. I’m in touch with my medical team back in Prague, and they recommended that I did not risk it with Wimbledon around the corner.

“Even though I really love playing in Eastbourne, and I felt great on the court here, unfortunately I had to pull out. I really, really loved it here. The grounds are packed and everyone was so nice and supportive, telling me welcome back, so that makes it even more sad for me that I cannot go out and play for them. It’s early in my come-back, and I just don’t want to rush it.”

It seems Muchova will be fine for Wimbledon, which starts on Monday.


Jasmine Paolini had too much firepower for Katie Boulter in their quarter-final encounter at Devonshire Park

© Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for LTA

British No 1 Katie Boulter also suffered disappointment when she lost to Jasmine Paolini, the recent French Open finalist from Italy who is seeded 3 at Eastbourne.

Despite winning more matches than any other women on grass this year, Boulter failed to impose on Paolini, although she made more of a match of it in the second set in the tricky conditions before losing, 6-1 7-6(7), in 81 minutes.

Although Paolini, the World No 7, stopped Boulter from reaching her 3rd semi-final of the year, it nevertheless has been a good warm-up for her ahead of Wimbledon, where the Brit will be the No 32 seed.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen next week, but one thing I do know is that this is the best tennis I have been playing for a very long time – I think ­ever, actually, in my career,” 27-year old Boulter said. “At the same time, I’m realistic. There are some tough draws out there.”


In the high wind at Eastbourne, Daria Kasatkina had greater control of the difficult conditions than Emma Raducanu on Thursday afternoon

Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for LTA

Paolini’s Last 4 opponent will be Daria Kasatkina, the 6th seed from Russia, who produced a convincing 6-2 6-2 win over Emma Raducanu in the very windy conditions at the WTA 500 tournament in Devonshire Park on Thursday afternoon.

Kasatkina dominated the opening set, breaking Raducanu twice, and held 4 set points on the Brit’s serve to win it at 6-1, before the held and the Russian served it out.

Although the World No 14 lost her own serve twice in the second set, raising home hopes, she broke Raducanu in all 4 of her service games on her way to sealing her spot in the semi-finals.

Despite this one-sided defeat, Raducanu can take great encouragement from her run in Eastbourne heading into next week’s Championships.

The 21-year-old upset World No 5 Jessica Pegula in the 2nd-round to earn her first win against an opponent ranked in the Top 10, and then saved a match point en route to winning a match for the first time in her career in the 4-6 7-6(6) 7-5 victory against the 30-year-old American.

In the opening round, Raducanu cruised past World No 45 and former US Open winner Sloane Stephens, 6-4 6-0.

With the 108 points garnered by reaching the Last 8 at the WTA 500 event, Raducanu has climbed 33 places from 168 to 135 in the live WTA Rankings.

“I’m pleased to have had three matches,” Raducanu said. “I think it builds towards my match fitness, builds towards my bank of experience playing in all sorts of conditions, I would say. I think, today especially, it was very difficult, and I just didn’t handle it very well.

“I’d say, yeah, I think I just need to learn to be more willing to adapt. I’d say I hadn’t really played many matches in that level of wind.

“Daria actually plays really good in those conditions, because she makes it very awkward for the opponent. I just think she handled it a lot better.”

Asked if she had felt tired in the match against Kasatkina, Raducanu replied: “I wasn’t tired at all. I was feeling really good. I think I just dealt with the circumstances badly. Yeah, was very inflexible in my approach. Like, that’s my honest reflection of the match. But, physically, I’m in a really good spot, and yeah, I could easily go and train now, or train tomorrow.”

In her on-court interview, Kasatkina disagreed that she had been fully in control of the match.

“Well, not so much,”  the Russian said. “I was trying to be in control of myself, first of all, because the conditions are very tough. It’s super windy.

“It’s very difficult to do some nice things, so you have to play, and try to win as many points as you can. Try to put as many balls as you can inside the court. And I think I did this pretty good today.”

On meeting Paolini, Kasatkina, who was a finalist here last year said: “[She] is having a great season. She’s playing amazing, she’s on fire. But I’m also not too bad. I think it’s going to be a good match tomorrow.”


Defending champion Madison Keys reached the Last 4 without striking a ball after Karolina Muchova withdrew ahead of their quarter-final match due to a right wrist injury

© Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for LTA


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