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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Caroline Wozniacki vs. Ashleigh Barty, Eastbourne QF Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne QF Preview
🇩🇰 (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. 🇦🇺 (8) Ashleigh Barty

A fascinating quarter-final match-up in Eastbourne on Thursday sees the top seeded Caroline Wozniacki takes on the eighth seeded Ashleigh Barty. This looms as a big test for Wozniacki, Barty has proven that she is one of the best players on tour on a grass court, Wozniacki will need to be at her best to navigate her way through to the semi-finals at the Nature Valley International.

Ashleigh Barty of Australia in action during her third round match at the 2018 Nature Valley International WTA Premier tennis tournament

Wozniacki overcame a stern challenge from Johanna Konta to advance to the quarter-finals in Eastbourne. The Dane battled to a 4-6 6-1 6-4 win over Konta, a confidence boosting win for Wozniacki in her first tournament on grass in 2018. Wozniacki claimed a comfortable 6-2 6-3 win over Camila Giorgi in her other match this week.

Barty has cruised into the quarter-finals in Eastbourne. The Aussie number 1 has been relatively untroubled, claiming comfortable straight set wins over Kristina Mladenovic (6-3 6-2) and Su-Wei Hsieh (6-2 6-4). Barty’s record on grass in 2018 is now 10-1, her all-court game is perfect for this surface.

Wozniacki holds a 2-0 H2H record over Barty. The pair most recently met in Madrid where Wozniacki won 6-2 4-6 6-4, Barty was in a winning position in the final set but couldn’t get over the line.

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Caroline Wozniacki vs. Johanna Konta, Eastbourne R3 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne R3 Preview
🇩🇰 (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. 🇬🇧 (13) Johanna Konta

The pick of the third round matches at the Nature Valley Intentional in Eastbourne on Wednesday sees the top seeded Caroline Wozniacki take on the 13th seed and British number 1: Johanna Konta. The Britt comfortably defeated Wozniacki in their only two previous encounters. However, the reigning Australian Open champion will fancy her chances of a maiden win over Konta, it is Wozniacki who has generally been in far better form in 2018.

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in action at the 2018 Nature Valley International WTA Premier tennis tournament

Wozniacki was the runner-up in Eastbourne 12 months ago, she will be hoping to go one step further in 2018. The top seed is starting her grass court campaign this week in Eastbourne, the 27-year-old made a decent start to the tournament with a commanding 6-2 6-3 win over the potentially-dangerous Camila Giorgi.

Johanna Konta has already played quite a bit of tennis on grass over the last few weeks. Konta started her grass court campaign a few weeks ago where she was beaten in the final by Ash Barty in 3 sets. Konta received a brutal draw in Birmingham, beaten by eventual champion: Petra Kvitova in the first round. Konta is defending semi-finalist points at Wimbledon so the pressure is really starting to mount on the Britt.

Konta holds a 2-0 H2H record over Wozniacki. Konta easily disposed of Wozniacki in their two prior matches, both in 2017, a 6-3 6-1 win at the Australian Open and a 6-4 6-3 win in Miami. Wozniacki is a different player now and will be keen to show that in this match-up.

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Angelique Kerber vs. Danielle Collins, Eastbourne R3 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne R3 Preview
🇩🇪 (4) Angelique Kerber vs. 🇺🇸 Danielle Collins

Angelique Kerber continues her Eastbourne campaign on Wednsday with a third round clash against the USA’s Danielle Collins. Kerber enters this match as a strong favourite and rightfully so. However, Collins has made a habit of defying the odds in 2018, can the American claim another big scalp?

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

Kerber made a poor start to her grass court campaign last week in Mallorca where she suffered a shock opening round loss at the hands of Alison Riske. Nevertheless, the German rebounded strongly for her first round match in Eastbourne. Kerber received a bye through the opening round before producing a very impressive performance to defeat Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 6-3 in what was a high quality match. Grass has always been a surface Kerber has excelled on, if she finds her best form she will be one of the main contenders for the title this week.

Danielle Collins arrived In Eastbourne having never won o main draw match at the WTA tour level on a grass court. The American claimed her first win on grass by defeating local wild-card Katie Swan 6-3 3-6 6-3 before eliminating the 16th seeded Suarez Navarro with a 6-2 6-4 victory.

This will be the first career meeting between Kerber and Collins.

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Daria Gavrilova vs. Agnieszka Radwanska, Eastbourne R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne R2 Preview
🇦🇺 (15) Daria Gavrilova vs. 🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska continues her Eastbourne campaign on Tuesday with a second round clash against the 15th seeded Daria Gavrilova. Radwanska is competing in her first tournament since Istanbul two months ago and made a good start the event with a comfortable straight set win over Timea Babos in the opening round. Gavrilova received a bye in the opening round and will need to quickly find a high level to get past this tough first hurdle at the Nature Valley International.

Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in action at the 2018 Nature Valley International WTA Premier tennis tournament

Gavrilova started her grass court campaign last week in Birmingham. The Aussie had an okay week, a good opening round win over Dominika Cibulkova in two tight sets followed by a straight set loss to the eventual champion Petra Kvitova, no shame in that loss. However, grass has typically been Gavrilova’s weakest surface, there is little to suggest that will change anytime soon.

Grass has always been Radwanska’s best surface and she took little time to get adjusted in Eastbourne. The Pole easily disposed of Timea Babos in her first match in almost two months, claiming a 6-3 6-1 win over the Hungarian. Radwanska will face a different test against Gavrilova, an opponent she has struggled against in the past.

It was Gavrilova who won the only previous meeting between the pair, a 6-4 6-4 win at the semi-final stage in New Haven last year. Can Radwanska reverse that result on her favourite surface?

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