Day 4 of the Aegon International Eastbourne was a packed day with round 2 matches yet to be completed due to yesterday’s inclement weather. Most matches occurred when I was asleep so I’ll first write about the matches I watched.
In her first match on grass, Simona Halep produced a decent display to fend off the challenge of Duan Ying-Ying in three sets in the span of two days. Duan was blowing Halep off the court in the first three games, before play was suspended. When the players came back today, it was largely the same as Duan dictated play with her huge groundstrokes and booming serve – dropping only five points on first serves in the first set. After a pep talk with coach Darren Cahill, Halep’s level improved as her counter-punching ability helped her to turn defence into offence in most points. The Romanian also took advantage of the slower second delivery of Duan – pretty sure there wasn’t even a time that Halep hit a second serve return out! That was something that Halep didn’t exactly did in the RG final loss to Jelena Ostapenko – Halep said that was haunting her a little bit and she definitely improved on that today. Halep would play Tsvetana Pironkova in the third round and play was suspended yesterday with Pironkova leading 7-6(6) 2-1.
Angelique Kerber got her first win since Madrid where she beat Kristyna Pliskova in a weird, but enthralling tussle. The first set saw Kerber and Pliskova hold serve for the first eight games – both players were at a decent level and I was so exhilarated that Kerber hit a backhand winner; it felt like she didn’t do that in forever! However, the German made back-to-back forehand errors in the ninth game and that gave an opening for the Czech – she gladly accepted the offer and clinched the first set 6-4. The second set saw Peak Kerber come back into action after almost a year as the World No.1 hit 14 winners to just one unforced error in an aggressive display. It definitely wasn’t like that in the third set as a tense, tight Kerber that we have been seeing in the past few months came back, giving Pliskova a couple of golden opportunities BUT SHE COULDN’T TAKE THEM. Missing sitters at 4-5 15-15 and 30-30, Pliskova completely crumbled in the eleventh game where she hit four tragic forehand errors where the crowd were completely stunned and wondering what was going on. Angie held her nerve and served it out to 15 for her first win on grass.
The second set was really encouraging from Kerber and hopefully she’ll be able to play this kind of tennis in the next few weeks while she was just able to swingthe ball freely! Kerber’s round 3 opponent would be Lara Arruabarrena.
Johanna Konta claimed a straight sets victory to silence Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-2 and book her ticket into the third round. There wasn’t much to say with Cirstea not finding the court on important points and Konta’s first serve were really the key for her to win. Her next opponent is French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, definitely an upset alert here.
There was just one more round 2 match yet to be finished – Agnieszka Radwanska and Lauren Davis were yet to finish their tussle before the rain came. Davis was serving for the first set at 5-4. The winner of this match will potentially have to play three matches tomorrow, and for Davis another two because she is playing doubles!
In the outside court matches…
Kristina Mladenovic ousted Zhang Shuai in a Birmingham re-match, this time even more dominant as she won 6-0, 6-4.
Next opponent for Mladenovic is doubles partner Svetlana Kuznetsova, who was just two points away from losing but came back to beat Mona Barthel, 4-6 7-5 6-2.
Peng Shuai claimed an epic over Timea Bacsinszky, 7-6(7) 2-6 6-4. The Swiss had five set points in the first set tiebreaker, leading 6-2 but fell away in the end. Both players had won an equal number of points at the end of the match, showing how tight a tussle it was!
In a match I tagged as a possible upset, Caroline Wozniacki did well to fend off Japanese youngster Naomi Osaka, 6-2 7-6(5). Next up for her is Elena Vesnina who won in straights over Veronica Cepede Royg.
Lastly, the shocking scoreline of the day was Barbora Strycova trashing Garb(age)ine Muguruza, 6-1 6-0. It was a shocking display from Muguruza having hit seven double faults and claimed 0/5 break point opportunites. After a bright performance in Birmingham it’s not looking so good for the Spaniard now!
Linked below is the craziest OOP of all time with all players having to do double duty with third round and quarterfinal matches commencing tomorrow.