Angelique Kerber upends Caroline Wozniacki ahead of Wimbledon on way to Eastbourne final

Kerber will meet American Madison keys in the final at Eastbourne International, while Benjamin Becker and Roberto Bautista Bagut are set for the final at the Hertogenbosch Open.

Germany’s Angelique Kerber returns a shot against Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova during a match at the Eastbourne International tournament on Thursday. She advanced to the final on Friday. Glyn Kirk / AFP / June 19, 2014
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Fifth seed Angelique Kerber will bring a 2-0 win record ovder American challenger Madison Keys into their final at the Eastbourne International on Saturday after defeating Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.

Germany’s Kerber needed two-and-three-quarter hours while teenager Keys saw off Briton Heather Watson in just 61 minutes to move into the first final of her career.

Kerber beat the 19-year-old at the 2013 Australian Open and in a Sydney semi-final last January.

The German, a 2012 Wimbledon semi-finalist who played the title match here two years ago, beat 2009 champion Wozniacki on a fifth match point in a see-saw battle on the lawns of Devonshire Park.

“It was a very tough match against Caroline, I’m really happy about the way I played,” said Kerber “Madison is a dangerous opponent, for sure. She’s played some very tough and good matches.

“She’s a young, talented player so I need to be ready. She has a great serve and she’s playing aggressive. I will try to enjoy the final and I hope we will play good tennis.”

Kerber broke Wozniacki, a former world No 1, on 12 of 17 chances, going up a double break in the final set.

The Dane got one of the breaks back as Kerber was unable to serve out the victory leading 5-2 in the third.

But the ninth-ranked German ended with a concluding break of her opponent a game later, sending over a cross-court winner to wrap up victory.

Kerber will improve her WTA ranking to seventh after reaching her third final of 2014, finishing runner-up in Sydney and Doha in the first two months of the year.

Wozniacki heads into Wimbledon starting on Monday with confidence after a productive week.

“I had expected it to be a tough match out there, it was a very long one. I actually thought I played very well.

“I probably should have closed it in two sets, being up a break and then being up (2-0) in the tiebreaker. But, it happens. In general, I’m very pleased about the way my game is at the moment. I’m looking forward to Wimbledon now.”

Keys was dominant throughout against Watson, the first local to get this far at Eastbourne in more than three decades, winning 6-3, 6-1. Watson had been hoping to become the first British woman to play the final in 38 years, after Virginia Wade last did it in 1976.

Keys made sure she spoiled that scenario, saving all six break points she faced while breaking her opponent’s serve four times.

“I’m really excited to be playing my first final,” said the teenager. “I like grass a lot, I played really well and returned strong.

“A couple of really good games from me and that was the match. Kerber is a big fighter and I’m looking forward to this final.”

The men’s semi-final line-up was completed a day late after Spanish third seed Feliciano Lopez, the holder, beat France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-4 in a quarter-final which was unable to start on Thursday evening due to rain and impending darkness.

Lopez reached the grass final last weekend at Queen’s Club and has staked his pre-Wimbledon week on hopefully repeating as Eastbourne titleholder. He’ll face American Sam Querrey, with the winner set to meet top seed Richard Gasquet, who beat Denis Istomin 6-4, 6-2 in the other semi-final.

At the Hertogenbosch Open, Roberto Bautista won back-to-back matches on Friday to advance to the final where he will meet Germany’s Benjamin Becker.

The Spanish world No 28 knocked out defending champion Nicolas Mahut of France 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the quarter-finals before returning to court later in the day for his semi-final clash after rain on Thursday forced a carry-over.

Austrian Jurgen Melzer was his opponent after overcoming the challenge of Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-6, (7/3), 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (11/9) in an epic match also earlier in the day.

In a marathon six sets of tennis for both players on the day, Bautista came out on top 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) to sink Melzer’s brave challenge.

He will now meet German Becker, the 2009 champion, who ended the run of Portuguese qualifier Joao Sousa 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) to set up a chance for a second career ATP title both at the same venue.

“I always enjoy playing here very much,” said Becker. “I like to play on grass and I don’t know why but I often play my best tennis at this tournament.”

Becker, who memorably recorded the final victory over Andre Agassi at the 2006 US Open before the American retired, is now ranked 83rd in the world after peaking at 38 in 2007.

In the women’s draw, American qualifier Coco Vandeweghe advanced to the final with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Czech Republic eighth seed Klara Koukalova.

She now plays China’s Zheng Jie, who has yet to drop a set on her way to the final, as she knocked out Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1, 6-3.

Vandeweghe is gearing up for Wimbledon where she drew Spaniard Garbine Muguruza Blanco, the woman she beat on Thursday in the quarter-finals.

“It was a good, clean match,” Vandeweghe said of her win over Koukalova.

“Last week I lost to her in a tough three-setter after serving for the match, so I definitely looked at it as a revenge match. To get that win in a semi-final is a really fun feeling.

“I’m totally happy and elated. It’s been a good year so far. I’m looking forward to playing in the final.”

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