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Kerber vs Jabeur WTA Eastbourne Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Kerber seeks third Eastbourne final

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 27 Jun 2019
  • Angelique Kerber vs Ons Jabeur is live from Eastbourne o Friday, 28 June from 11:00am local time/ 11:00am BST
  • First meeting between Kerber and Jabeur
Angelique Kerber. (PA Sport)

Angelique Kerber contests her fourth straight grass-court semi-final when she takes on Tunisia's Ons Jabeur in Eastbourne on Friday.

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With just a few days to go before the start of her Wimbledon title defence, Kerber has played herself into some decent form in the brief grass-court season, reaching the semi-finals in Mallorca last week, and backing it up with another trip to the last four in Eastbourne.

This grass-court surge comes after a forgettable clay-court season, when she went 2-3, and struggled with illness and an ankle injury.

Kerber is into the Eastbourne semi-finals for the second straight year, and she will attempt to reach the final for the third time on Friday, following runner-up finishes in 2012 and 2014. The German has never won the Eastbourne title.

After beating Samantha Stosur and Rebecca Peterson in the opening two rounds, Kerber faced her biggest test of the tournament on Thursday when she ran into fellow former world No. 1, Simona Halep, and she passed that test in impressive fashion, taking out Halep 6-4 6-3 in an hour and 12 minutes. The left-hander served at 71%, winning 60% of points on her first serve and 71% on her second- an outstanding number given how good a returner Halep is.

Kerber made very fast starts to both sets, racing out to a double break lead in each of the two sets, and while Halep got one of the breaks back on each occasion, the early cushion was big enough for Kerber to ease to victory and break a two-match losing streak against the Romanian.

Kerber is looking to reach her second final of the season, and her first since Indian Wells, where she was beaten by Bianca Andreescu. Her other semi-finals this season, outside Eastbourne, Mallorca and Indian Wells, were in Doha and Monterrey. She has not won a title since last year's Wimbledon success.

The German is within two wins of changing that narrative this week, and she will look to get one of them against Jabeur in Friday's Eastbourne semi-final.

Jabeur's run to the semi-finals has come virtually out of nowhere, but she is always capable of producing weeks like this given the talents the Tunisian possesses.

She has played very tough this week, with three of her four wins coming after dropping the first set. Jabeur fought back from a set down to beat Evgeniya Rodina and Mandy Minella in the opening two rounds, before recording her most straightforward win of the tournament against Johanna Konta- in what was supposed to be her most difficult match in theory- in the third round. Jabeur played superbly to win 6-3 6-2, but she returned to her come-from-behind three-set ways in Friday's quarter finals, battling back from a set down, and a break down in the final set to beat Alize Cornet, and book her place in her first semi-final of the season.

"I think at this tournament, I'm the queen of losing the first set and then coming back. It's another motivation for me to win, to play better in the second set, but I'm really happy with this win," Jabeur said.

The Tunisian had to overcome an ankle injury, which required a Medical Time Out, towards the end of the deciding set, but she got up, broke serve, and held for a very impressive 1-6 7-5 6-3 victory. 

Her Eastbourne run brings back memories of what she did at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow at the end of last year, when she barged into her first tour-level final before falling to Daria Kasatkina in the title match. Unfortunately, she wasn't quite able to build on that for most of the first half of 2019, winning just five matches through her opening 10 tournaments of the year. It is only hoped that this Eastbourne run will pave the way for greater consistency, as the Tunisian is one of the finest entertainers currently in the sport.

Her blend of power and touch was too good for Cornet on Thursday, as she hit 41 winners and just 26 unforced errors in a very fine win. Next up for the Tunisian is an intriguing first meeting with Angelique Kerber in the semi-finals on Friday.

"I want to keep positive and be able to play, especially I'm playing against such a good player, Kerber, and we never played before. So for me it's an opportunity. I'm going to do my best tonight. I trust my team, I trust my physios, and we'll see," Jabeur said. 
"I'll be ready to play tomorrow. I will do my best, for sure. I mean, she's playing really good. She proved herself everywhere in any tournament. Nothing to lose. I'm going to give 100%, for sure."

As well as Jabeur has played this week, I think she will fall just short against Kerber on Friday. The German has her fitness and confidence back, and she has the defence to blunt Jabeur's power, and the athleticism to counter the Tunisian's craft. Overall, I think Kerber will be just consistent for the world No. 66.

Angelique Kerber vs Ons Jabeur is live from Eastbourne o Friday, 28 June from 11:00am local time/ 11:00am BST

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Kerber vs Jabeur WTA Eastbourne Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Kerber seeks third Eastbourne final

Angelique Kerber attempts to reach the Eastbourne final for the third time when she plays Ons Jabeur on Friday. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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