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Caroline Wozniacki vs Angelique Kerber WTA Eastbourne Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Blockbuster semi-final in Eastbourne as Kerber confronts Wozniacki

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 28 Jun 2018
  • Caroline Wozniacki vs Angelique Kerber is live from Eastbourne on Friday, 29 June from 12:30pm local time/ BST
  • Kerber leads 8-6 on head-to-head, 1-0 on grass
Caroline Wozniacki. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber meet for the 15th time on Friday as they battle for a spot in final of the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne.

Wozniacki is looking to reach consecutive Eastbourne finals, after losing last year’s title match to Karolina Pliskova, while fellow former world No. 1, Kerber targets a return to the final after runner-up finishes in 2012 and 2014. It’s a battle between two of the finest counter-punchers in the sport, which should produce many entertaining rallies, despite the grass setting of this latest reunion.

Wozniacki is into her fourth semi-final of the season, but her first since in February. The Dane had reached the semis in three of her first four tournaments in a superb start to the year- it was during this time that she finally captured that elusive Grand Slam title in Australia- but her results have rather quietly dropped since making the semi-finals in Doha. Wozniacki was beaten by Daria Kasatkina in the fourth round at Indian Wells, while she suffered a rare opening round exit in Miami- losing to Monica Puig. The world number two made two quarter finals on clay- in Istanbul, where she retired hurt against Pauline Parmentier, and Rome, while she fell in the Round of 16 in Madrid and Roland Garros. Just as questions were beginning to creep up, Wozniacki has halted a four-month run without a semi-final by advancing to the last four in Eastbourne.

Despite this being her first tournament on grass, and being presented with a tricky draw, Wozniacki has compiled a competent week, easing past the dangerous Camila Giorgi in the opening round, before battling past home favourite, Johanna Konta in the second round- she had previously never taken a set off the British No. 1 in two attempts. Wozniacki then overcame grass-savvy Nottingham champion, Ashleigh Barty and blustery conditions at Eastbourne in the last eight to move into the semi-finals for the sixth time in her career. The Dane saved the first break point of a tight opening set in the seventh game; but having not had a look-in on Barty’s serve for much of the contest, Wozniacki suddenly opened up a 0-40 lead as the Australian bowed to scoreboard pressure while serving to stay in the opening set at 4-5. Wozniacki converted her second set point, via a Barty double fault, to take the lead. 

The second set was a more rollercoaster affair, with Barty twice leading by a break, but Wozniacki struck back immediately on both occasions. The Australian Open champion scored the decisive break in the eight game, before serving out the 6-4 6-3 victory to book her spot in the semi-finals.

Next up for the Dane is a familiar old foe, Kerber, who has her sights set on a third Eastbourne final.

Angelique Kerber. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
Kerber’s 2018 results trajectory has not been too dissimilar to Wozniacki’s. The German left-hander also stormed out of the blocks, reaching at least the semi-finals in three of her first four tournaments- winning the Sydney title, and notably reaching the last four at the Australian Open. She also reached the semi-finals in Dubai, but then went seven tournaments without making a WTA semi-final. She has been consistent, reaching quarter finals at Indian Wells, Miami, Rome and Roland Garros, but she has been missing that extra push since her brilliant start to the year.

Kerber stumbled in her grass-court opener, losing to Alison Riske in Mallorca, but she has been in fine fettle at Eastbourne, easing past Dominika Cibulkova and Danielle Collins with minimum of fuss in the opening rounds, before surviving a gripping three-set battle against Daria Kasatkina in the quarter finals. Kerber was all over Kasatkina in the opening exchanges, racing through the opening set in just 20 minutes, but her young Russian opponent fought her way back to parity in the second set. Kasatkina lost her serve while attempting to close out the second set at 6-5, but she regained her poise to take the set on a tie break, setting up a thrilling finale that swung one way, then the other. Kasatkina made the first move, breaking for the 4-2 lead, but Kerber reeled off three straight games, to earn a 5-4 lead. The two-time Grand Slam champion served for the match at 5-4, and then at 6-5, but Kasatkina broke back on both occasions. Momentum seemed to reside with the Russian when she opened up a 3-1 lead in the tie break, but the match swung for one last time in Kerber’s direction, as the German won the final six points to dig out a 6-1 6-7 7-6 victory after two hours and 10 minutes. Kerber’s aggression on grass was once again evident, as the German struck 40 winners and 32 unforced errors. 

"I think it was a tough battle for both of us," Kerber said after the match. "We played very well, especially in the third set. It was just a fight, and I'm happy I won in the end, but it was really close and such a good match. 

"I think it'll be another good match. I know Caroline very well; we've played so many matches in the past, so I'm looking forward to playing her again."

Despite her predominantly counter-punching style, Kerber has a fine record on this surface, including a runner-up finish at Wimbledon. Can she take down Wozniacki on Friday to make a third Eastbourne final?

The German holds an 8-6 advantage in their head-to-head; and edged their only previous meeting on grass at the Eastbourne semis in 2014. In a battle between two terrific defenders, the attacking strokes, most especially the linear shots will be key. I think Kerber has an advantage here- her flat forehand down-the-line attacks Wozniacki’s weaker forehand, and if she can hit that shot consistently well, she would have done her quest for victory no harm at all. Wozniacki hits an excellent backhand down the line, but Kerber defends better off her backhand wing; than Wozniacki does on her forehand side, which gives the German a better chance of taking control of rallies. 

Like the head-to-head suggests, this one is very difficult to call, and could well be decided on just a handful of points. Whoever holds her nerve, stays brave, and executes on these points will advance to the Eastbourne final.

Caroline Wozniacki vs Angelique Kerber is live from Eastbourne on Friday, 29 June from 12:30pm local time/ BST

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Caroline Wozniacki vs Angelique Kerber WTA Eastbourne Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Blockbuster semi-final in Eastbourne as Kerber confronts Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber meet in a blockbuster semi-final in Eastbourne. Who will advance to the title match? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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