Wozniacki rallies to set up Sabalenka Eastbourne showdown

By Peter Thompson 29 June 2018 4
Wozniacki rallies to set up Sabalenka Eastbourne showdown

Caroline Wozniacki saved a match point before winning a thrilling semi-final against Angelique Kerber to set up an Eastbourne International showdown with surprise package Aryna Sabalenka.

Wozniacki was on the brink of crashing out on a glorious day at Devonshire Park, but rallied to win a high-quality contest 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 on Friday.

The Australian Open champion, runner-up in Eastbourne last year, broke back to force a second-set tie-break after saving a match point and maintained her momentum to move into the final.

Top seed Wozniacki, who will face Varvara Lepchenko in the first round at Wimbledon next week, saved eight break points to stay on course to win the grass-court tournament for a second time - nine years after her first triumph in Sussex.

Kerber appeared to be on course for only her second title of the season when she took the first set in convincing fashion, winning four consecutive games with heavy and precise hitting.

Wozniacki responded by winning the first three games of the second, yet a composed Kerber got back on serve at 4-3 and broke again to go 6-5 up, but failed to serve out the match after the world number two saved a match point by ending a gripping rally with a rasping winner.

A sprightly Wozniacki rubbed salt into the German's wounds by winning the breaker and claimed the only break of the deciding set when Kerber double-faulted following an unforced error as she was left to reflect on what might have been.

The unseeded Sabalenka earlier reached her first WTA Premier final with a 6-3 1-6 6-3 defeat of 2008 champion Agnieszka Radwanska.

Sabalenka struck 54 winners in an aggressive display, the 20-year-old from Belarus coming from a break down in the final set to stay in contention for her maiden WTA singles title.

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Peter Thompson