AEGON International day 7 recap: Konta and Watson both through to semi-finals

Day seven served up another jammed packed day of tennis as both Heather Watson and Johanna Konta advanced to the semi-finals of the AEGON International after a gruelling day which saw them both play twice.

But in their semi-final matches they overcame Barbora Strycova and Angelique Kerber respectively as their pre-Wimbledon warm-up is going to plan. But for the Brit no.1 Konta, she had to overcome late drama as she slipped on her third match point and hit her head which required six minutes of treatment.

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But, Konta showed steely determination as she rose afterwards and then composed herself to beat the world no.1 Kerber 6-3, 6-4 in front of a rapturous crowd on centre court.

Whilst Konta was overcoming Kerber, on court one the British no.2 Watson was facing a difficult test in the shape of Strycova. And after blitzing the first set 6-1, Watson looked comfortable. But the Czech player responded in the second – and with Strycova trying to delay proceedings with some questionable behaviour in the third, Watson held her nerve to record a 1-6, 6-1, 4-6 victory.

It means Karolina Pliskova will face Konta in a re-run of last year’s semi-final, whilst Watson takes on former Eastbourne winner Caroline Wozniacki after the Dane beat Simona Halep in the game before Konta on centre court.

On the men’s side Novak Djokovic booked his place in the semi-finals after beating Donald Young in straight sets. Whilst Richard Gasquet, Daniil Medvedev, and Gael Monfils all booked their spot in the last four as well after their respective wins.

Djokovic through to semi-finals in straight sets

After defeating Canadian Vasek Pospisil yesterday in straight sets, the assignment against Young would be an entirely different test. But Djokovic powered through the first set as the Serbian broke Young twice en-route to a 6-2 victory.

Djokovic came to Eastbourne hoping to maximise his time on the grass as he looks to build up to Wimbledon next week. And it seems the world no.4 is slowly improving after what has been a difficult year.

In the first set Djokovic was moving the American all over the court with some well placed shots, and as the set wore on Djokovic’s serve began to find its target and Young was not able to find an answer to it. For the American it was a disappointing first set; a week ago he reached the quarter-finals of Queens playing some nice tennis but in the first set he just struggled to find any rhythm out on court.

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After a medical timeout for Young before the start of the second set, it looked as though it might have plain sailing for Djokovic then onwards. But the stoppage didn’t seem to affect Young and it was evident from the beginning of the set that he wanted to make the second set a lot closer than the first.

And with both players going back and forth, Young had a perfect chance to level with two set points. But Djokovic defended well to deny Young the second set.

With the second set tied at 5-5, it was a close run thing and with nothing separating them, the game headed into a tie-break which proved to be thoroughly entertaining.

Like earlier in the set when Young had the chance to win it, the American could have won the tie-break. But some sloppy play cost him dearly with him being two set points to the good. Djokovic fought back and made the American pay as he booked a spot in the semi-finals.

Konta overcomes Ostapenko in a three set thriller

In Konta’s first game of the day she defeated French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko in a three set thriller on centre court. With both players knowing that they would have to play twice, going to three sets would have probably been worst case scenario for the Brit.

But it was the British no.1 that prevailed against the 20-year-old Latvian in what was an entertaining match. Ostapenko, who has shot to fame after her shock French Open win, showcased just why she is being touted as the next big thing in women’s tennis.

Ostapenko made the better start as she broke Konta before racing into a 3-1 lead; it was a clinical start from the Latvian and it showcased her raw power as she blew Konta away with a deadly mix of power and precision.

The Brit gradually warmed up to the occasion and broke Ostapenko’s serve halfway through the first set, and with her confidence up Konta continued to apply the pressure and she was rewarded with a hard fought first set victory.

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Ostapenko was never going to change her style and in the second set that powerful style continued. Throughout the first set Ostapenko’s returns was a thing of beauty and in the second set that continued as Ostapenko tried to find a route back in. She broke the world no. 7 midway through the second set and never looked back as Konta struggled to deal with the ferocity of Ostapenko.

With the game heading to a deciding set it looked as though Ostapenko was in the ascendency, but Konta stemmed the tide and broke the French Open winner early. But Konta couldn’t capitalise on that pivotal moment as Ostapenko immediately replied with a break of serve.

Heading into the later part of the set, Konta won a big break, and with the crowd sensing a victory for Konta, the Brit had the opportunity to serve for the set. But the 26-year-old didn’t make it easy as she lost three match points before finally winning the match at the fourth time of asking.

Konta overcomes Kerber despite late drama

After beating Ostapenko a mere two hours before she played Kerber it was going to be a tough ask if Konta could overcome the German in what was the final action on centre court.

Kerber herself had played before – but a convincing straight sets victory over Lara Arruabarrena wasn’t anything like Konta’s gruelling three set battle against Ostapenko. But Konta performed well throughout the first set as she broke Kerber early, and that form continued through the first set as she took a 6-3 victory.

The 29-year-old Kerber rallied in the second, but Konta continued with the play that had served her well. And with three match points in the Brit’s favour, drama ensued as Konta slipped and hit her head on the net – six minutes of treatment followed, but Konta recovered to win in straight sets.

Selected day 7 results:

  • Cameron Norrie lost to Gael Monfils 3-6, 6-2
  • Novak Djokovic beat Donald Young 6-2, 7-6
  • Jelena Ostapenko lost to Johanna Konta 5-7, 6-3, 4-6
  • Angelique Kerber beat Lara Arruabarrena 6-2, 6-1
  • Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova lost to Heather Watson 4-6, 3-6
  • Tsvetana Pironkova lost to Simona Halep 7-6, 6-7, 5-7
  • Caroline Wozniacki beat Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-2
  • Agnieszka Radwanska lost to Lauren Davis 6-7, 1-6
  • Karolina Pliskova beat Shuai Peng 7-6, 6-4
  • Johanna Konta beat Angelique Kerber 3-6, 4-6
  • Heather Watson beat Barbora Strycova 1-6, 6-1, 4-6
  • Karolina Pliskova beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7, 6-2, 6-4

Image credits – Getty Images – Mike Hewitt

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