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Kerber vs Halep tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Top-10 players clash for WTA Eastbourne semifinal spot

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 26 Jun 2019
  • Angelique Kerber faces Simona Halep in the quarterfinals of the Nature Valley International
  • Kerber vs Halep is live from Eastbourne on Thursday at 12.30pm BST
Angelique Kerber (PA Sports)

Reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber faces Simona Halep in a must-watch WTA quarterfinal clash in Eastbourne.

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Top-10 players face off as world no. 5 Angelique Kerber takes on world no. 7 Simona Halep in a pre-Wimbledon blockbuster at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne.

Angelique Kerber in action (PA Sports)
With eight of the WTA’s top 10 originally in the Nature Valley International draw, although world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty pulled out before the tournament began, it feels only fitting that the Premier-level Eastbourne event should see one clash between top-10 players in the quarterfinals – in this case, between players who have both been ranked world no. 1 and been Grand Slam champions as well.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Kerber has had an underwhelming season by her own high standards, but it’s still included a number of strong results, most notably a runner-up finish at Indian Wells and semifinal showings in Doha, Monterrey and Mallorca. At the last-named event, played on grass last week, Kerber was upset by Belinda Bencic in three sets, but had already scored straight-set victories over Maria Sharapova and Caroline Garcia in a confidence-boosting run sorely needed after her clay-court season, blighted by an ankle injury, culminated in a first-round exit from the French Open at the hands of Anastasia Potapova.

I always feel like Kerber is underestimated as a grass-court player because it seems counterintuitive that a player who is fundamentally a counterpuncher should thrive on what is supposed to be the fastest surface. Well, grass isn’t such a fast surface any more and Kerber is superb on it, in case the two Wimbledon finals she’s reached didn’t tip you off. Kerber also has a great record in Eastbourne, where she is 16-5, having made the final in 2012 and 2014 and the semifinals in 2018, losing to eventual champion Caroline Wozniacki. 

Kerber has yet to drop a set coming into the Nature Valley International quarterfinals, opening with a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Samantha Stosur and going on to save two set points in a tight first set against Rebecca Peterson before dominating the second thoroughly for a 7-6(4), 6-0 victory.

‘I was feeling good so far,’ Kerber said afterwards. ‘The first set was really close and tough. I mean, she had [two] set points in the first set, but then I was playing good in the tiebreak. And then starting good in the second set and finding then my rhythm even better in the second set, so it was a good match.’

Simona Halep found things more complicated against Polona Hercog on Wednesday. 

Simona Halep (PA Sports)
The former world no. 1 was brilliant in the first set as she raced to a double-break lead and breezed to a 6-1 first set, but not for the first time in 2019, she failed to sustain that level throughout the match and the quality of her play dropped sharply in the second, letting Hercog into the match. The Slovenian, who is having a great season, winning Lugano and playing some top players hard including Halep herself in Miami and Sloane Stephens at the French Open, threw herself into the effort of taking the second set and dragged Halep to a decider in which the Romanian took charge, but was forced to work hard all the way down the stretch. 

Halep, who is also playing doubles in Eastbourne with Raluca Olaru, is playing her first event since her French Open title defense was ended in the quarterfinals by Amanda Anisimova in straight sets, but once more seems to be on relaxed form at Devonshire Park. Still looking for her first title of 2019 after finishing runner-up to Elise Mertens in Doha and Kiki Bertens in Madrid, Halep has seen her ranking slide to world no. 7 after failing to defend her French Open title, but the good news is that she doesn’t have too many points to defend at Wimbledon, having lost to Su-Wei Hsieh in the third round in 2018 – a defeat she avenged when she trounced Hsieh 6-2, 6-0 in her opening match in Eastbourne. 

This is only Halep’s second appearance at the Nature Valley International after reaching the quarterfinals on her debut in 2017, losing to Caroline Wozniacki. With one grass-court title to her name, at the International-level ‘s-Hertogenbosch event in 2013, Halep’s grass-court credentials obviously do not compare to Kerber’s, but the Romanian has been a Wimbledon semifinalist and a quarterfinalist twice and is no slouch on this surface.

This will be the eleventh meeting between Halep and Kerber. Halep leads the head-to-head 6-4, having won their last two encounters in 2018 – both in straight sets, the first an absolute epic in the semifinals of the Australian Open – but Kerber won their only previous grass-court match in straight sets at Wimbledon in 2016, 7-5, 7-6(2). I feel like Halep has been playing the better tennis in 2019 as a whole, but Kerber has been playing the better tennis this week; she’s also just so well suited to this surface, with her ability to get really low to the ball, redirect down the lines, and use her left-handedness to her advantage. It should be the fourth seed who comes through to the semifinals in Eastbourne.

Kerber vs Halep tennis is live from Eastbourne on Thursday at 12.30pm BST

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Kerber vs Halep tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Top-10 players clash for WTA Eastbourne semifinal spot

Angelique Kerber vs Simona Halep live streaming, preview and predictions for the Nature Valley International quarterfinal match on Thursday 27 June: Halep has won the last two meetings between the two but grass is a better surface for Kerber

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