Bertens edges Sabalenka for a spot in Eastbourne semifinals


In the day’s second match-up of two Top 10 players, third seed Kiki Bertens battled past last year’s runner-up Aryna Sabalenka 6-4 3-6 6-4 to advance to the semifinals of the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne.

It was a tightly-contested quarterfinal — Sabalenka won a total of 90 points, compared to the winner’s 91. The eighth-seeded Sabalenka confidently opened the match by holding serve at love, but Bertens won the Belarusian’s next service game and this early break of serve that handed her a 3-1 lead turned out to be crucial in the first set.

The world No.10 Sabalenka responded by racing to 3-0 in the second set and although Bertens got the set back on serve at 3-3, the eighth seed broke once again in the eighth game to get the set into her own hands. Looking at the stats, Bertens’ biggest drawback in the second set were her five double faults.

The third set was again won by a player that was the first to go up a break. Even though Sabalenka neutralized Bertens’ initial 3-1 lead, the Dutchwoman broke Sabalenka once again at 6-4 to triumph in two hours and three minutes.

In the Nature Valley International semifinals the world No.5 Bertens will face one spot higher ranked Karolina Pliskova, who thrashed Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 6-0 in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

It will be the sixth career meeting between Bertens and Pliskova. The 27-year-old Bertens leads the head-to-head 3-2 and has won their only match on grass, in straight sets, last year in the fourth round of Wimbledon.


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