Reigning Wimbledon champion and No.4 seed Angelique Kerber reached the semi-final stage at the Nature Valley International Eastbourne for the fourth time in her career beating No.6 Simona Halep 6-4 6-3.
It's never easy to play against Simona, but I was playing from the first point really good today, especially in important moments Angelique Kerber
In a battle of former world No.1s, Kerber broke twice in both sets, Halep managing to break back once in each set, before Kerber closed out the match in one hour and 11 minutes.
Kerber, who reached the Eastbourne final in 2012 and 2014, said: “It’s never easy to play against Simona, but I was playing from the first point really good today, especially in important moments.
“I know to play against Simona you have to play until the last point because you never know what’s happen. She’s always fighting until the last one, so I was trying to staying focused the whole match. And it’s great to have another really good match (under) my belt before Wimbledon.”
In the semi-final Kerber will take on Ons Jabeur, who continued her impressive run with a 1-6 7-5 6-3 win over Alize Cornet, despite requiring a medical time out for a rolled ankle when leading 4-3 break point in the third set of the two-hour and four-minute match.
The Tunisian said she was happy to have finished the match and would be looking for a fast recovery ahead of Friday’s semi-final: “(The ankle) doesn’t look that bad,” said Jabeur. “At the beginning, I thought I’m not going to be able to walk. But then I was trying, and I was thinking about (the) Karate Kid movie.
“I don’t care, playing on one leg. For me, I was very close to (the) win. It’s going to be a waste if I lose this match. I didn’t play my best tennis, for sure, but today I learned how to win with ugly tennis.”
No.3 Kiki Bertens is also through to the semi-finals with a gutsy, two-hour three-minute, 6-4 3-6 6-4 win over No.8 Aryna Sabalenka. There, she will take on No.2 Karolina Pliskova who beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 6-0 to reach the third Eastboune semi-final of her career.
The champion in 2017, Pliskova said: “The beginning was quite tough. There were a couple of moments which I had some breakpoints, I didn’t make it. I just did well in the important moments.
“I don’t know if she wanted to totally kill me, or what she was trying to do. I think she just went for too much sometimes. And I was just putting pressure every time I could, especially on the second serve.”