Friday’s Set Points, WTA Eastbourne 2017: Wozniacki edges Watson to set up final vs. Pliskova

Set PointsFriday is my last full day in Eastbourne! Rather shockingly, after a manic Thursday, the schedule was just about caught up with where it should be with the semi-finals up. I started the morning by listening to the Wimbledon draw – once i’m back then the Wimby posts will commence. Before going out to watch the first semi-final, there was an announcement in the media centre that Johanna Konta had pulled out of the tournament due to a thoracic spine injury. Konta came into press at 11am and talked about how she was feeling.

Konta elaborated that the thoracic spine was the upper back and it was “quite sore”. The Brit was understandably cagey and said that she was just focusing on the next 24 hours and resting up at home.

Konta’s withdrawal meant that Karolina Pliskova received a walkover into Saturday’s final. Therefore, the one and only WTA singles semi-final between Caroline Wozniacki and Heather Watson was up and I joined the match after three games. Wozniacki eased through the first set, 6-2 with a very solid display. Watson was trying to dictate, be aggressive and come forward, but she made too many errors.

Watson went down a break in the second set but broke straight back. It looked like there may be a trio of breaks but Watson managed to save four break points, most with bold, attacking play, to hold. The Brit then made her move by winning the next two games – Watson broke, largely thanks to Wozniacki leaving the ball too short, and then held with some excellent serving. A little like her match against Halep, Wozniacki rather quickly went off her game. The Dane took an off-court medical time-out with Watson leading 5-2. On the resumption, Watson’s serve continued to hold up as Wozniacki finished the set with some wild groundstrokes.

After the first set I had this sinking feeling it was going to be a quick semi-final… Watson had other ideas though and this turned into a really engaging contest and I enjoyed it very much! The pair exchanged breaks at 1-1 and then went with serve up till the end. Wozniacki improved significantly in the decider compared to the second set and was solid behind her serve. Eventually her persistence paid off as she broke for the win, 6-2 3-6 7-5 in two hours and nine minutes.

There was a warm embrace between the pair at the net and Caroline was beaming! Firstly, the embrace in video form by the WTA.

And here are some of my pictures.

Watson was first into press – she was obviously disappointed but overall, upbeat following a superb week. She spoke about her slow start and attributed some of that down to the late finish on Thursday.

Watson emphasized on the match wins she has had this week. I asked about her plans now and she said she was heading to Wimbledon today and will probably be there already!

Wozniacki was second into press and talked about the medical time-out she had. Wozniacki said that she will “try to make it fourth time lucky” as she has gone 0-3 in finals so far this year.

After coming out of the first women’s semi-final, I stopped for a few games of the first doubles semi-final between Ash Barty and Casey Dellacqua, and Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova. Ash and Casey were killing it!

The weather took a rather nasty turn – I was watching the doubles in glorious sunshine and just five minutes later it was bucketing it down.

On the resumption, Barty and Dellacqua won in straights and will play Martina Hingis and Yung-Jan who dropped just one game in their semi-final. I spent the afternoon watching doubles and stayed on for the men’s doubles final, which was won by the Bryan brothers. I really enjoyed the match and decided just to watch the tennis and not bother with any photos. It was a nice way to spend my birthday.

Saturday’s final between Pliskova and Wozniacki will be their third encounter of the year – Pliskova beat Wozniacki in Doha, 6-3 6-4, but Wozniacki turned the tables in commanding fashion in Miami to win, 5-7 6-1 6-1. I think this is a good match-up for Wozniacki but i’m a tad concerned about her abdominal injury which she remarked in press was OK now but could get worse. Pliskova will be the fresher of the two and I think her weapons will be accentuated on grass so i’d probably give the edge to the Czech player.

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