By Ros Satar at the Nature Valley International, Eastbourne

  • Angelique Kerber [4/WC] def. Ons Jabeur WO
  • Karolina Pliskova [2] def. Kiki Bertens [3] 6-1 6-2
  • Kerber [4/WC] v Pliskova [2] | Kerber leads H2H 7-4
EASTBOURNE, UK – Karolina Pliskova will aim to stop Angelique Kerber from making it third time lucky as she targets her first Eastbourne title.

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Karolina Pliskova [2] def. Kiki Bertens [3] 6-1 6-2

So much for working things out on the grass – Kiki Bertens came into physical contact with the turf taking an awkward fall in a trouncing at the hands of Karolina Pliskova. The 2017 champion does well in the sea air and commanded the proceedings with an early break and a second at the business end of the first set while the Dutchwoman struggled with the blustery conditions and the pace of Pliskova’s game.

The second set saw two more breaks in succession as Bertens got no looks in at the Pliskova serve on a very solid day, as she progressed into the final for the loss of three games.

“I actually was expecting a little bit harder today. I think always when you make the quick break, which I always did in these matches which I was playing here, it kind of helped, and then I’m just able to hold my serve quite easily sometimes, although the serve was not the best today.

“I felt like I was hitting fine. Of course, the wind, I think not many players really likes and they can struggle. I think she was struggling a little bit with the wind. Of course, I was playing quite good. But also surprising for me.”

Earlier in the day Angelique Kerber progressed through on a walkover, after Ons Jabeur withdrew after rolling her ankle badly in the semi-final.

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Kerber [4/WC] v Pliskova [2] | Kerber leads H2H 7-4

Kerber looks to be rounding into form at just the right time. The defending Wimbledon champion has been looking for matches, reaching the semi-final in Mallorca before coming to Eastbourne to try to win the title for the first time, having finished runner-up in 2012 and 2014.

Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final of the Nature Valley International, Eastbourne 2019

Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final of the Nature Valley International, Eastbourne 2019 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Pliskova knows what it is like to battle the elements and the seagulls for the silverware, having won in 2017, but somehow has never managed to translate that into a success at Wimbledon. She won the Rome title earlier this year, but for Kerber, there has been no silverware since she lifted the Wimbledon title a year ago.

Kerber has looked in very solid form for the past two weeks. Glad to be off the clay her movement has been solid all week, and especially in her match against Simona Halep in the quarter-finals she has been able to raise her game a notch each time she has been challenged.

Pliskova’s strength this week has definitely been to adapt far quicker than most of her opponents to the particular conditions Eastbourne brings, and the strength to hit through the court when playing against the wind.

However overall, Kerber’s strength and movement does always trump Pliskova, who has improved a lot in that aspect, but Kerber can get down low to those minimal bounce shots that the grass always gives you.

Having beaten Pliskova in Birmingham in 2015 (traditionally a lot slower than at Eastbourne), you would think Kerber has the edge, but in terms of consistency over the year, Pliskova has been a lot more stable, as she bids for a third title in 2019.

Pliskova is maybe the slight favourite, but Kerber should never be counted out on grass, but she will make it a war out there.

Prediction: Kerber in three sets.

 

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