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Eastbourne 2014: semi-final draw shapes up

A determined Heather Watson stretches to return.
by Stuart Fraser
Friday 20 June 2014

It may not have been in the way she had envisaged but Heather Watson became the first British woman in 32 years to reach the semi-finals of the AEGON International after last-eight opponent Petra Kvitova pulled out due to injury.

Watson was changing into her match kit when news came through that the 2011 Wimbledon champion Kvitova could not take to the court due to a right hamstring strain. It means Watson emulates Jo Durie, who was the last Brit to reach the last four in Eastbourne in 1982.

The walkover guarantees that Watson will be in the top 60 come Monday and the 22-year-old senses a chance to further push ahead with very few ranking points to defend for the rest of the year after her struggles in 2013.

Watson said: “I see it as a big opportunity. You're in the semi-finals now, everybody wants it badly and I do too.

"I'm just focused on now after my year last year and experiencing losing and falling down the rankings and losing confidence. I'm just so grateful to be healthy and confident again and just really enjoying my tennis.

"So while I'm playing good, I want to make the most of me playing good because I know that it doesn't last every single week."

Kvitova heads to London on Friday with no idea at the moment on when she'll be able to start her pre-Wimbledon practice, although the Czech remains hopeful that she will be able to take to the courts of the All England Club for her first match on Monday.

Kvitova said: “I started to feel it yesterday morning. I played quite a solid match yesterday, but today was much worse. I hope that I am going to be ready for Wimbledon.

“I hope that just some days off will help. I don't think it's any strain or something very serious. It's really painful so I really couldn't move but I hope it's going to be good.”

Watson now bids to create further history by becoming the first Brit since Virginia Wade in 1976 to reach the final at Devonshire Park, although standing in her way is 19-year-old American Madison Keys who stormed past compatriot Lauren Davis 6-2, 6-1. It's a chance for Watson to gain revenge after Keys beat her in straight sets in the first round at Wimbledon last year.

Caroline Wozniacki picked up another confidence-boosting victory ahead of The Championships as she beat Camila Giorgi 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-2, although the Dane may feel she should have won it in straight sets after holding a 6-3 lead in a drama-filled first-set tiebreak.

Giorgi saved all three set points before earning one of her own, in which umpire Alison Hughes incorrectly called a ball out and ordered a replay of the point after realising her mistake. Giorgi then double faulted and slammed a ball into the stands in frustration before converting her second set point. In the end, though, Wozniacki recovered and was too steady for her over-aggressive opponent.

Wozniacki takes on 2012 Wimbledon semi-finalist Angelique Kerber, whose winning scoreline of 6-2, 6-1 may have made it look as if she cruised past Russian Ekaterina Makarova but that was far from the case with the German edging a number of close games.

In the men’s draw, top seed Richard Gasquet booked his place in the semi-finals with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Martin Klizan, with the Frenchman’s strong serving showing that he has fully recovered from the back injury that sidelined him for two months earlier this year.

Gasquet takes on Denis Istomin, who is looking to make it two in a row against French players after beating Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6(5), 6-2.

Defending champion Feliciano Lopez will have to wait until Friday to play his quarter-final against Jeremy Chardy after rain suspended play for the night. Whoever wins will go on to face big-serving Sam Querrey who edged past Julien Benneteau 7-6(5), 6-4.

Best match

Wozniacki's comeback in two hours and 34 minutes against the all-out attack of Giorgi was undoubtedly match of the day. In fact, it was the only singles match on Thursday to go the distance.

Wozniacki said: "It was a good test for me. I don't think there are many players or any players hitting it harder than she does. It goes straight through the court because obviously it's grass."

They said

"Even when I was walking back from here today, someone goes, 'hey, good job. I hope you lose tomorrow'. I was like, 'thank you'." – Madison Keys on how one spectator made it clear where their allegiances lie for her semi-final against Heather Watson.

“Every day we are watching the World Cup. France is starting well so of course I'm supporting them every day. Of course I hope they will go far in the tournament.” – Richard Gasquet is spending much of his downtime in Eastbourne glued to the World Cup on television.

"I'd say Hawk Eye on every court." - Heather Watson when asked what rule she would change if she was the "queen of tennis".

Spotted

Eleven-time Eastbourne champion Martina Navratilova was back at the site she once ruled on Thursday ahead of a question-and-answer event with David Dimbleby at the Congress Theatre on Thursday night to raise money for the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis.

Follow the latest news and scores from Wimbledon 2014 on Wimbledon.com or download the official iPhone, Android and iPad apps.


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20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...

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