Sloane Stephens vs. Jelena Ostapenko, Eastbourne R2 Preview

Nature Valley International, Eastbourne R2
🇺🇸 (7) Sloane Stephens vs. 🇱🇻 Jelena Ostapenko

Two Grand Slam champions will collide in a blockbuster second round clash at the Nature Valley International on Tuesday as the 7th seeded Sloane Stephens takes on Jelena Ostapenko in Eastbourne. Stephens and Ostapenko are two of the most unpredictable players on the WTA tour, both are capable of playing top level tennis but both can also go missing from time-to-time.

Sloane Stephens will be in action for the first time since her disappointing quarter-final loss to Johanna Konta at Roland Garros earlier this month. Grass is traditionally Stephens least preferred surface, the American has nothing to lose over the coming weeks as she has no points to defend given she was beaten in the opening round at Wimbledon last year in the only match she played on the grass. Perhaps the lack of pressure will work in the American’s favour.

Conversely, Jelena Ostapenko is much more comfortable on the grass. Ostapenko arrives in Eastbourne fresh from a quarter-final showing in Birmingham, Ostapenko’s Birmingham campaign did end quite sadly as she squandered 5 match points and a set and a break lead to lose to Petra Martic in the quarter-finals, nevertheless it was a decent week. The pressure is on Ostapenko over the next few weeks as she has to defend semi-final points at Wimbledon.

It was Sloane Stephens who won the only previous match between the pair, a 7-6 6-1 win over the Latvian in the Miami Open final last year. Can Stephens maintain her perfect record over Ostapenko in Eastbourne?

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Simona Halep vs. Su-Wei Hsieh, Eastbourne R2 Preview

Nature Valley International, Eastbourne R2
🇷🇴 (6) Simona Halep vs. 🇹🇼 Su-Wei Hsieh

Simona Halep begins her 2019 grass court campaign with a tricky second round match-up against Su-Wei Hsieh at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne. The last time the pair met it was Hsieh who shocked Halep with a tough 3 set victory at the third round stage of Wimbledon last year. An in-form Hsieh will fancy her chances again here against a potentially rusty opponent.

Simona Halep will be back in action for the first time since her disappointing quarter-final loss to Amanda Anisimova at Roland Garros earlier this month. Grass has always been Halep’s least preferred surface but she has gradually improved on the surface over the years. Halep enters the 2019 grass court season with low expectation and little pressure on her shoulders, perhaps the perfect circumstances for the Romanian.

Su-Wei Hsieh arrives in Eastbourne fresh from winning the doubles title in Birmingham alongside Barbora Strycova. Hsieh won the doubles final in Birmingham on Sunday and was back in action on Monday in Eastbourne where she claimed a hard-fought 6-3 4-6 6-4 win over Camila Giorgi in what was a very high quality match.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. Halep required 3 sets to get past Hsieh in Cincinnati in 2013, whilst more recently Hsieh defeated Halep 3-6 6-4 7-5 at Wimbledon last year. Clearly this is a tough match-up for Halep, especially on grass.

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Danielle Collins vs. Yulia Putintseva, Eastbourne R1 Preview

Nature Valley International, Eastbourne R1
🇺🇸 Danielle Collins vs. 🇰🇿 Yulia Putintseva

An interesting opening round clash In Eastbourne sees two of the WTA tour’s feistiest competitors do battle as Danielle Collins takes on Yulia Putintseva. This will be the first career meeting between Collins and Putintseva, expect a drama filled contest between these two.

Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan in action during her quarter-final match at the 2019 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Danielle Collins will be playing her first grass court tournament of the season this week in Eastbourne, her first event since a second round exit at Roland Garros earlier this month. Collins has very limited experience on grass, the American’s run to the quarter-finals in Eastbourne last year was the only time she has won main draw matches on grass.

Yulia Putintseva arrives in Eastbourne in good form after a run to the quarter-finals in Birmingham last week. The Kazakh made a good start to her grass court season in Birmingham as she notably claimed a straight set second round victory over Naomi Osaka, her first ever victory over a number 1 ranked player. Grass is traditionally Putintseva’s least preferred surface but she has certainly improved on the surface and will have gained a huge confidence boost from her win over Osaka.

Neither player will take a backwards step in this one, who will prevail?

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Polona Hercog vs. Barbora Strycova, Eastbourne R1 Preview

Nature Valley International, Eastbourne R1
🇸🇮 (Q) Polona Hercog vs. 🇨🇿 Barbora Strycova

Barbora Strycova will look to continue her strong form from Birmingham as she begins her Eastbourne campaign against Polona Hercog. Strycova arrives in Eastbourne in good touch after a run to the semi-finals in Birmingham last week whilst Polona Hercog enters this first round clash match-hardened having won a couple matches to get through the qualifying draw.

Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic in action during her semi-final match at the 2019 Nature Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Barbora Strycova has always played her best tennis on grass, her crafty game makes her a threat to anyone on this surface. The Czech started her 2019 grass court campaign with a strong run to the semi-finals in Birmingham where she defeated Heather Watson, Su-Wei Hsieh and Kristyna Pliskova before falling to Ashleigh Barty in a close one. Meanwhile Strycova is also in strong form on the doubles court having gone all the way in Birmingham with Su-Wei Hsieh.

Grass is not as familiar to Polona Hercog, the Slovenian traditionally struggles on this surface but has made a decent start to her 2019 grass court campaign. Hercog defeated Christina McHale before falling to eventual champion Alison Riske in 's-Hertogenbosch. Hercog made her way through the qualifying draw in Eastbourne with wins over Jill Teichmann and Pauline Parmentier.

Surprisingly it is Hercog who holds a strong head-to-head record over Strycova, Hercog has won 3 of their 4 previous clashes. However, it was Strycova who won their most recent match, a 6-4 6-4 win at Roland Garros in 2016.

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Caroline Wozniacki vs. Aryna Sabalenka, Eastbourne Final Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne Final Preview
🇩🇰 (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. 🇧🇾 Aryna Sabalenka

The 2018 Nature Valley International champion will be crowned on Saturday when Caroline Wozniacki and Aryna Sabalenka go head-to-head in a fascinating final in Eastbourne. The top seeded Wozniacki will be playing for her 29th career title whilst Sabalenka will be looking to claim her very first WTA tour level title. This will be the first career meeting between the pair, a match-up that will feature a huge contrast in styles. Arguably the best defensive player the game has seen over the last decade up against the extremely power, rising star from Belarus.

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in action during the semifinal of the 2018 Nature Valley International WTA Premier tennis tournament

Wozniacki is into her first final since winning a maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open earlier this year. Wozniacki earned her spot in Saturday’s final with an extremely hard-fought 2-6 7-6 6-4 win over Angelique Kerber. The Dane saved match point in the second set as Kerber served for the match at 6-5 and always seemed destined to win after that moment in what was a very high quality match. Prior to that win Wozniacki defeated Camila Giorgi (6-2 6-3), Johanna Konta (4-6 6-1 6-4) and Ashleigh Barty (6-4 6-3).

Sabalenka has had the best week of her career thus far in Eastbourne and as a result she will rise to a career high ranking of at 32 in the world. Sabalenka has done things the hard way, winning all 5 of her matches this week in 3 sets. Sabalenka started the week with wins from a set down against Sachia Vickery and Julia Goerges before securing back-to- back wins via a third set tiebreak against Elise Mertens and Karolina Pliskova. Sabalenka booked her spot in a maiden premier level final with an extremely impressive 6-3 1-6 6-3 win over Agnieszka Radwanska. Sabalenka trailed 3-2 40-0 in the deciding set before cantering to the finish line with a blistering display of power tennis, Radwanska could do nothing to stop her.

There is no doubt that Sabalenka’s best tennis is good enough to make this a very competitive final. However, it has been a long week for the Belarusian and she is in unprecedented territory, can Sabalenka produce one last superb performance to claim the title in Eastbourne?

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Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Aryna Sabalenka, Eastbourne SF Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne SF Preview
🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. 🇧🇾 Aryna Sabalenka

Agnieszka Radwanska and Aryna Sabalenka will do battle for the first time when they meet in Friday’s first semi-final at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne. This is a fascinating battle because of the extreme contrast in styles between the pair, the consistency, versatility and touch of Radwanska against the super-aggressive, powerful game of Sabalenka. Who will prevail?

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in action during her third round match at the 2018 Nature Valley International WTA Premier tennis tournament

It has been a great week for Radwanska. The Pole arrived in Eastbourne having not played a match since Istanbul over 2 months ago due to injury. Radwanska kicked off the event with a comfortable straight set win over Timea Babos before fighting from a set down and fending off match points in a 5-7 7-6 6-0 win over Daria Gavrilova. Radwanska received a walkover into the quarter-finals courtesy of a Petra Kvitova withdrawal, the former world number 2 secured her spot in the final 4 with a 6-2 7-5 win over Jelena Ostapenko.

Aryna Sabalenka has threatened to cause big damage at this level for a while now, finally things have fallen into place for the Belarusian in Eastbourne. Sabalenka has done things the hard way, battling through 4 consecutive matches in 3 sets. Sabalenka started the event with wins from a set down over Sachia Vickery and Julia Goerges. The 20-year-old went on to win a pair of matches decided in a final set tiebreak, a 7-5 2-6 7-6 win over Elise Mertens and a 6-3 2-6 7-6 win over Karolina Pliskova, the biggest win of Sabalenka’s career to date.

It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out as they pair go head-to-head for the first time.

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Caroline Wozniacki vs. Angelique Kerber, Eastbourne SF Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne SF Preview
🇩🇰 (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. 🇩🇪 (4) Angelique Kerber

Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber will renew hostilities when they meet in Friday’s second semi-final at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne. This is typically one of the more even match-ups on tour, there is little to separate these two, both have very similar strengths and similar weaknesses. Expect a close one here, both are in great form this week and will give little away cheaply.

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in action during her third round match at the 2018 Nature Valley International WTA Premier tennis tournament

Wozniacki has navigated her way through a tough draw to reach the semi-final stage in Eastbourne. The Dane started the week with a fairly comfortable straight set win over Camila Giorgi in what seemed like a danger-game on paper. The top seed faced her biggest test at the third round stage where she came from a set down to defeat Britain’s Johanna Konta, a 4-6 6-1 6-4 victory. Wozniacki secured her spot in the final 4 with a fairly straightforward 6-4 6-3 win over Ashleigh Barty. Overall it has been a good week for Wozniacki thus far, all 3 of her previous opponents posed a serious threat heading into the match.

Kerber’s pathway to the final 4 has not been quite as tough, but it hasn’t been easy. The German started the event with an impressive 6-3 6-3 victory over Dominika Cibulkova. The German then went on to thrash Danielle Collins, claiming a 6-1 6-1 victory in under an hour. It was at the quarter-final stage where Kerber received her biggest test, the German stood up to the challenge to secure a 6-1 6-7 7-6 victory over Daria Kasatkina, an opponent that has troubled the German in recent times. Kerber looked set for another disappointing loss to Kasatkina when she trailed 2-4 15-40* in the third set. However, it was good to see Kerber raise her intensity and will herself to victory.

These two have a long history. It is Kerber who holds a slender advantage over the Dane, an 8-6 H2H record for the German. The most recent match between the pair took place earlier this year in Doha, Wozniacki claimed a hard-fought 7-6 1-6 6-3 victory. The pair have only previously played once on grass, ending in a 3-6 7-6 6-3 victory for Kerber in Eastbourne in 2014, coincidentally at the semi-final stage.

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Karolina Pliskova vs. Aryna Sabalenka, Eastbourne QF Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne QF Preview
🇨🇿 (2) Karolina Pliskova vs. 🇧🇾 Aryna Sabalenka

An exciting quarter-final match-up in Eastbourne sees the second seeded Karolina Pliskova take on Aryna Sabalenka, a match-up between two powerful and extremely aggressive players. This will be the first career meeting between the pair, it will be interesting to see how troublesome the Belarusian can be to the defending champion at the Nature Valley International.

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in action during her third round match at the 2018 Nature Valley International WTA Premier tennis tournament

Karolina Pliskova stared her title defense in Eastbourne with a 6-4 2-6 6-3 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The second seed produced an improved performance in her next match as she easily defeated Barbora Strycova 6-3 6-4 in what could have potentially been a tough match.

It has been a tough week for Sabalenka, but a very rewarding week. Sabalenka has threatened to have a big breakthrough all year, finally in was happened with back-to-back wins over top 20 opponents for the first time. Sabalenka started the week with back-to-back wins from a set down, a 4-6 6-0 6-1 win over Sachia Vickery and a 1-6 6-4 6-4 win over Julia Goerges. The Belarusian arguably claimed the biggest win of her career as she defeated Elise Mertens 7-5 2-6 7-6, a gutsy win from a break down in the deciding set.

Don’t expect many long rallies in this match-up, this will be first-strikes tennis at its finest, who will prevail?

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Jelena Ostapenko vs. Agnieszka Radwanska, Eastbourne QF Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne QF Preview
🇱🇻 (5) Jelena Ostapenko vs. 🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska

A blockbuster quarter-finals clash opens proceedings on Thursday at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne as the 5th seeded Jelena Ostapenko takes on former finalist: Agnieszka Radwanska. Interestingly, it is Ostapenko who enters this match as the favourite, can a resurgent Radwanska pull of the upset?

Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in action during the third round at the 2018 Nature Valley International WTA Premier tennis tournament

Ostapenko and Radwanska are both starting their grass court campaign’s in Eastbourne. Ostapenko has rocketed in the final 8, a 6-3 7-5 win over Kaia Kanepi followed by a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Mihaela Buzarnescu. Radwanska started the week with a comfortable 6-3 6-1 win over Timea Babos before fighting to a 5-7 7-6 6-0 win over Daria Gavrilova. After blowing a big lead in the opening set it was a gutsy win for Radwanska against Gavrilova, a meaningful win, a good sign that she was tough enough to get through that challenge.

The only previous meeting between the pair took place in New Haven in 2016. Radwanska won that match 7-5 6-1, her defensive skills really troubled Ostapenko on that occasion. It will be interesting to see how this match unfolds given the two have gone in different directions since their last meeting.

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Angelique Kerber vs. Daria Kasatkina, Eastbourne QF Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne QF Preview
🇩🇪 (4) Angelique Kerber vs. 🇷🇺 (7) Daria Kasatkina

Angelique Kerber and Daria Kasatkina will renew hostilities when they meet at the quarter-final stage of the Nature Valley International on Thursday, the fourth and final match of the day. Kasatkina has proven to be a troublesome match-up for Kerber in recent times, Kasatkina has won 3 of the last 4 matches between the pair but heads into this match as an underdog.

Angelique Kerber of Germany in action during her third round match at the 2018 Nature Valley International WTA Premier tennis tournament

Kerber has been extremely impressive on route to the quarter-final stage in Eastbourne. Kerber navigated her way through a tough opening round match-up with relative ease, a 6-3 6-3 win over Dominika Cibulkova in a high quality match. Kerber maintained that high level through a 6-1 6-1 demolition of Danielle Collins to book her spot in the final 8.

Conversely, Kasatkina has been forced to battle her way through to the quarter-finals in Eastbourne. The Russian survived a first-up scare, defeating Alison Van Uytvanck 5-7 6-4 6-1. Kasatkina secured a spot in the quarter-finals on grass court for the first time with a 6-4 6-4 win over Anastasija Sevastova, the Russian came from a break down in each set.

Kasatkina holds a 3-2 H2H record over Kerber. All 5 of their previous matches have been on a hard court, all in the last couple of year. Kasatkina has won 3 of their last 4 matches, their most recent match was earlier this year in Indian Wells, a comfortable 6-0 6-2 win for Kasatkina.

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