Dramatic end to packed schedule as Konta & Watson reach Eastbourne semi-finals
By Ros Satar, in Eastbourne
- Johanna Konta beats Jelena Ostapenko and Angelique Kerber
- Heather Watson [WC] beats Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Barbora Strycova
- Konta will face Karolina Pliskova  – Pliskova leads 5-1
- Watson meets Caroline Wozniacki – H2H: 1-1
EASTBOURNE, UK – Johanna Konta and Heather Watson reach the Eastbourne semi-finals but not without drama after Konta suffered a heavy fall on match point.
Johanna Konta beats Jelena Ostapenko and Angelique Kerber
All the players had busy days on the WTA side, with Johanna Konta starting her day by rising to the occasion to beat Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko before taking to Centre Court in the evening to take on World No. 1 Angelique Kerber.
The fact that Konta registered her best career win by beating the World No. 1 Kerber, she registered her first win over the German but not without peak drama as she slipped and fell heavily, banging her head while contesting her third match point.
Going down hard as her ankle seemed to give way, she landed on her back and head, and was in some distress as Kerber stayed with her until the medical assessment could be completed. It was a lengthy assessment but eventually she was helped up to complete the match, winning the next two points to reach the semi-finals for the second straight year.
Kerber, quick into press said: “You don’t want that happen like this. I mean, I didn’t know what exactly happened, but she told me that she, I don’t know, slide and with the head on the floor. But yeah, I mean, at the end it’s good that nothing happen. I think this is the most important thing.”
The conditions this week have been challenging, to out it mildly with the combined event with the ATP seriously impacted after Tuesday’s schedule was almost entirely washed out save for a few minutes of play.
Kerber explained: “The conditions are really tough. Especially with the last days where we are waiting the whole days and walking on court, walking off. Then it’s sunny, and then we have half shadow, half sun on court. So it was really tough out there. Especially also now at the end of the day it was a little bit slippery because it’s getting night, it’s getting cold. Yeah, I mean, it is like it is (smiling).”
Konta understandably had to get further assessment, before explaining what happened:
“I’m feeling actually not too bad. I got checked out and I’ve got no signs of concussion. That’s the most important thing. Just got a bit of a sore head. Just hope to have a chill evening, and I’m sure I’ll pull up well tomorrow.
“I slipped, and I fell backwards. First my back and then my head went back on the ground.”
Konta v Karolina Pliskova  | H2H: Pliskova leads 5-1
Ordinarily this would be a fantastic chance for some revenge for Konta after bowing out of her home tournament last year at the exact same stage but a lot now depends on how she is feeling.
What she can take hope from is that she stopped the rot in their head to head, finally getting a win over Karolina Pliskova on her way to the Beijing final. Both players are regular names that are cropping up in watch-lists for Wimbledon, and but for that fall we could have been in for a treat.
Both have an aggressive game with Pliskova earning lots of free points with a huge serve and the key here will be movement on a day that looks to be as frustrating as earlier in the week with sporadic showers on the forecast.
We can expect Konta to be maybe a little more cautious which could allow Pliskova to take advantage and dictate the points a little more. Konta knows that the battle will be tough against one of the favourites in this year’s wide-open field:
She said: “I played her in the semis last year and I have had many tough battles again against her. I know that going into tomorrow it will be very much the same story. I’m looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to playing against her.”
Prediction: Pliskova in three sets.
Heather Watson [WC] beats Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Barbora Strycova
At the Aegon Classic, Heather Watson acknowledged that her first two forays into the WTA tour warm-up events had not gone her way. She lost to Alison Riske in Nottingham before losing a tense three setter against No. 2 seed Elina Svitolina – but she felt a good run was on the way.
“I have been waiting on it and it’s come now. Yeah, the last couple of months I have really been putting in the work on and off the court, and I felt really good on the court in practice, and it’s just building that confidence and momentum with match wins.
“I have had a few here and there, and now it’s just really come together and I feel great on the match court. I feel confident. I feel like I’m moving well, seeing the ball well, and being aggressive.”
Watson v Caroline Wozniacki | H2H: 1-1
She meets a formidable foe in Caroline Wozniacki who has made three semi-finals here, and indeed won the title here in 2009. The pair can switch from attack and defence easily, and Watson has especially really made the most of her abilities at the net, this week in particular.
Wozniacki came through a topsy-turvy match with Simona Halep, going from dominating the opening set to losing eight games on the bounce before grabbing the match once more by the scruff of the neck.
In her first and only warm-up, Wozniacki is looking very solid, and while Watson can probably pull the Dane to a three setter, she knows that she will have to play lights out tennis to stand a chance of making her first final since Monterrey last year.
Watson said: “Caroline is obviously a great player and a great athlete. Her strength, her movement, her quickness, how she reads the game. I’m not going to be able to rely on her missing balls, because she’s very consistent.
“I’m going to have to go out there and keep coming to the net like I have been and throwing some junk around. Yeah, I look forward to playing her again.”
Prediction: Wozniacki in three sets
Watson and Wozniacki are scheduled on Centre Court at 11am BST, followed by Konta and Pliskova.
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