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Caroline Wozniacki vs Ashleigh Barty Nature Valley International tennis live: Wozniacki must pass tough Barty test to make Eastbourne semi-finals

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 27 Jun 2018
  • Caroline Wozniacki vs Ashleigh Barty is live from Eastbourne around 2.00pm local time/BST on Thursday
  • Wozniacki has won both of their previous meetings - but this is their first clash on grass
Caroline Wozniacki (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Eastbourne champion Caroline Wozniacki continues her Nature Valley International campaign on Thursday with a tricky quarter-final showdown against Nottingham champion Ashleigh Barty.


Top seed Caroline Wozniacki will have to be operating at the peak of her powers if she is to advance into the Eastbourne semi-finals on Thursday when she takes on Australian No. 1 and recent Nottingham winner Ashleigh Barty. Wozniacki hasn’t made that much of an impact on tour since capturing the Australian Open title in January, but she’s been solid in Eastbourne so far this week and a triumph over Barty will give her a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament and Wimbledon. Barty meanwhile is targeting another scalp over a top player as she goes for a second grass-court title of the summer. Wozniacki and Barty take to court around 2.00pm local time/BST on Thursday.

Coming into the Nature Valley International in questionable form, Wozniacki has answered a couple of challenging questions in her first two matches in Eastbourne, firstly coming through the dangerous and enigmatic Camila Giorgi in a routine opening match before coming from behind to conquer home hope Johanna Konta on Wednesday. Wozniacki had never beaten Konta in their previous two meetings, but the Dane was able to stage a superb fightback against the Brit on grass, closing out a tight victory in two hours and 10 minutes to return to the Eastbourne quarter-finals.

"It was a very difficult match," Wozniacki said after the win. "Jo plays really well, loves the grass, and was playing at home. After the first set, I got into more of a rhythm and both of us played better from there. I was lucky to get it in the end."

Wozniacki has never played her best tennis on grass - in fact, it’s got to be considered her least preferred surface, with the Dane never making it past the fourth round of Wimbledon  in 11 previous main draw attempts. However, Wozniacki has played very well in Eastbourne over the years, capturing the title in 2009, reaching three straight semi-finals between 2013-15 and finishing runner-up last year to Karolina Pliskova after beating Naomi Osaka, Elena Vesnina, Simona Halep and Heather Watson on her way to the final.


The 27-year-old would go on to win the Tokyo title before securing the WTA Finals Singapore silverware to cap a wonderful 2017 season, while things only got better at the start of 2018 as Wozniacki saved two match points in the second round of the Australian Open and went on to win her first Grand Slam of her career, defeating Simona Halep in a thrilling three-set battle to also claim the No. 1 ranking. But Wozniacki hasn’t been able to produce that sort of form since departing Melbourne, relinquishing her the No. 1 ranking and making just one semi-final (and that came in February in Doha). Can she make the semi-finals here in Eastbourne on Thursday?

Ashleigh Barty (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for LTA)
Ashleigh Barty will have other ideas. The Australian has only enhanced her reputation as one of the tour’s leading grass-court players this season, winning the Nottingham title with victories over Naomi Osaka and Johanna Konta, and while she went down in the Birmingham second round to Julia Goerges, Barty has bounced back strongly in Eastbourne this week, advancing into the quarter-finals with clinical straight sets wins over Kristina Mladenovic and Su-Wei Hsieh. With a booming serve, clever slices and a brilliant net-rushing game, Barty is making life very difficult for her rivals on the lawns - and now she has her sights set on a first top 10 win of 2018 on Thursday.

After retiring from tennis in 2014 while still a teenager in order to take a break from the sport and try her hand at professional cricket in Australia, Barty returned to tennis in 2016 and finished that year at 271 in the world after easing back into competition through the ITF circuit. But it was in 2017 where Barty took her game to the next level, scoring four top 10 wins over the likes of Venus Williams, Johanna Konta, Karolina Pliskova and Jelena Ostapenko, while she also won her maiden WTA title in Kuala Lumpur and finished runner-up at the Premier 5 Wuhan Open.

Never one to employ a packed schedule, Barty hasn’t played a lot of tennis in 2018 (compared to her counterparts), but she’s managed to hold her spot inside the world’s top 20, adding a runner-up finish in Sydney, a third round showing at the Australian Open, a Round of 16 in Charleston and a semi-final in Strasbourg to her Nottingham title triumph.

Wozniacki has won both of their previous meetings, but Barty pushed the World No. 2 on the clay of Madrid earlier this season, losing 6-4 in the third. With Barty now on her favourite surface and Wozniacki competing on her least preferred, I give the Australian a real chance of the upset. Barty will be the aggressor and attempt to overpower Wozniacki from the baseline - which happens more frequently on the lawns. If she can execute, Barty has the game to knock out the second seed and reach the semi-finals.


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Caroline Wozniacki vs Ashleigh Barty Nature Valley International tennis live: Wozniacki must pass tough Barty test to make Eastbourne semi-finals

Former Eastbourne champion Caroline Wozniacki continues her Nature Valley International campaign on Thursday with a tricky quarter-final showdown against Nottingham champion Ashleigh Barty.

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