Eastbourne has been pretty great this week…. and I am not just saying that because I was there at the start of the week! There have been so many fantastic matches of high quality and / or hilarious drama. Today’s quarter-final between Caroline Wozniacki and Camila Giorgi may have fallen into both categories, but DEFINITELY THE LATTER! That tiebreak and THAT HANDSHAKE! As usual, my predictions have completely flopped, but I take heart that I at least started well. The Wimbledon draw is released at 10am UK time on Friday morning and both bumper previews will be out by Saturday.
1. Caroline Wozniacki v Angelique Kerber
Eastbourne has seen a welcome return to form for both Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber, who will meet in the first of the Eastbourne semi-finals at 11am on Friday morning.. On Thursday, Wozniacki exacted revenge for a third round defeat to Camila Giorgi at last year’s US Open with a three set victory, 6-7(7) 6-4 6-2 in two hours and 34 minutes. It was a match that featured plenty of storylines. In the first set tiebreak, a point had to be replayed after Alison Hughes appeared to try and overrule on nothing… Everybody makes mistakes! Then Giorgi double faulted on set point and ballooned a ball into the stands, which apparently hit someone. This could have and probably should have beeb default-worthy, but she just got a warning. There also appeared to be no apology. If you are in the UK, you can watch highlights of the first set tiebreak drama HERE. The match also featured what had to be the handshake of the year so far.
Kerber had a surprisingly comprehensive victory over the Bourne-GOAT, aka Ekaterina Makarova, 6-2 6-1. Wozniacki and Kerber both had disappointing clay court seasons, but both have played extremely well at times this week. Their head-to-head has featured some superb matches. The festival of moonballs at Indian Wells last year was particularly good and their last match-up in Tokyo was heavily underrrated which saw Kerber win 6-4 7-6(5). It was a really high quality match with both players, surprisingly, going for her shots. This is a bit of a lucky dip because the head-to-head is tight and both are playing well… my instinct says Kerber.
Prediction: Kerber d. Wozniacki in 3 sets
2. Madison Keys v Heather Watson
I tipped Madison Keys to win in Birmingham last year, but as I always do, I keep mistiming when players peak! Keys was superb in her first round victory over Jelena Jankovic and hasn’t dropped a set all week on her way to the semi-finals with wins over Elena Vesnina (7-5 7-6) and Lauren Davis (6-2 6-1). The American is really starting to settle on the grass and will be a dangerous looming threat to the big seeds at Wimbledon. In an unlikely, but fascinating semi-final, Keys will play the Brit, Heather Watson. Hev advanced with a walkover as Petra Kvitova pulled out with a hamstring injury. Watson deserves her place in the last four with two gritty three set wins over Tsvetana Pironkova and Flavia Pennetta in which she came back from a set down in both. Keys won their only previous match, which took place at Wimbledon last year. Keys won, 6-3 7-5. I fancy this to be a nervy affair with a first Premier final up for grabs. Watson has been playing much more aggressively this week. It’s hard though to overlook the booming power of Keys and so far this week, the clean and consistent striking.
Prediction: Keys d. Watson in 3 sets