Nature Valley International Report. Thursday 28th J
28th JUNE 2018
On another day on the South Coast bathed in sunshine, the Nature Valley International reached the quarter-final stages of the tournament in both the Mens and Ladies events.
First up on a packed Centre Court was Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie who was up against Lukas Lacko. The Slovakian, who earlier this week knocked out the Number One seed Diego Schwartzman, continued his fine form i9n the tournament by beating Norrie in straight sets 6-3,6-4.
Norrie was immediately broken by Lacko in his opening service game, only for the Brit to break back straight away. The Slovakian then broke Norrie in the eighth game before serving out to take the opening set in 34 minutes.
Once again Lacko broke Norrie quickly, this time in the third game of the second set. The Slovakian was under huge pressure to hold his serve as Norrie looked to hit back at 15-40. In a long game which contained six duces, Lacko held on to his serve after a Norris return from the baseline was long.
The games for the rest of the set went with serve with Lacko holding his serve to serve out for the match in 1hour and 14 minutes and book a place in the semi-finals.
On Court One, the Number 5 seed Jelena Ostapenko was in action first up against Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska. The honours went to Radwanska who defeated Ostapenko in straight sets 6-2,7-5. Radwnanska will now face Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals.The up and coming 20-year-old stunned the Eastbourne crowd by despatching the Number 2 seed and defending Champion Karolina Pliskova in a three set battle on Centre Court.
Sabalenka, had lost her first three matches against Top 10 players, but finally broke her duck in pulling off one of the surprises of the tournament. The youngster from Belarus had no nerves on centre court as she took the opening set 6-3. Pliskova stormed back to level the match after taking the second set 6-2. The number Two seed looked on course for victory after taking a 4-1 lead in the deciding set, but Sabalenka thought back to send the match into a tie break.
Sabalenka took an early 3-1 lead in the tie breaker. Pliskova then edged in front 4-3 only for Sabalenka to nudge ahead 6-5, the first match point for either player. The serve went back to Pliskova, but the defending champion sent a forehand wide to give Sabalenka a milestone win, in a match that lasted over 2 hours.
The Number 1 seed and finalist last year, Caroline Wozniacki booked her place in the semi-finals after a straight sets victory against the Australian Ashleigh Barty. The Aussie came into Eastbourne on the back of some fine grass court victories.
In a cagy first set in the tenth game it was Wozniacki who had three break points. Barty then served a double fault to give Wozniacki the opening set 6-4. Barty responded immediately by breaking Wozniacki in the opening game of the second set, only for last years finalist to hit back and break Barty. Both girls shared breaks half way through the set, with Wozniacki breaking Barty again to hold a 5-3 lead. It was down to Wozniacki to serve out for the match, which she duly did in 79 minutes.
Angelique Kerber booked a semi-final with Wozniacki after coming through against Daria Kasatkina in three sets.
Kerber dominated the opening set and took it comfortably 6-1. A hard fought second set went to a tie break which Kasatkina edged. The deciding set also went the way of a tie break, which the German eventually took to bpook a meeting with Wozniacki.
The final match on Centre Court saw Great Britain’s Number 1 Kyle Edmund in action against Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin, for a place in the semi-finals of the men’s event.
It turned out be Britain’s second defeat of the day after Edmund lost to Kukushkin in three sets.
Edmund took a tight opening set 7-5 before Kukushkin levelled the match after claiming the second set 6-3. The deciding set was dominated by the Kazakhstan, as Kukushkin took the deciding set 6-1 to knock Edmund out of the tournament and end British hopes for another year.