2015 Aegon Classic

Magnificent Mladenovic causes upset

Kristina Mladenovic

Kristina Mladenovic sent top seed Simona Halep tumbling out of the grass court tournament with a third set tiebreak triumph in 114 minutes.

Mladenovic warmed up for her Eastbourne debut by dumping 2014 Wimbledon sensation Halep 2-6 6-0 7-6(4) to reach the semi-finals.

The French ace hit 27 winners overall and coupled with Halep’s 30 unforced errors produced a deserved shock success at the Aegon Classic.

Mladenovic looked out-of-sorts in the opening set, with a thunderous forehand from Halep on break point in the third game and was broken again in the seventh game to drop the set after 28 minutes.

But then the world #43 turned on the style and blasted past the Romanian. Halep was beaten by a well disguised drop shot on her serve to trail 2-0, and with the bit between her teeth Mladenovic breezed into a 5-0 lead.

Halep, serving to stay in the set, managed to save three set points but nervously double-faulted on the fourth break point as Mladenovic levelled the match by securing a whitewash set in 24 minutes.

Mladenovic continued going all out to win points in the decisive set with the players neck-and-neck until Halep’s forehand shot flew wide in the eighth game to give the rising French star a break of serve.

But in the next game Mladenovic fluffed her chance to serve out for the match, double-faulting after saving one break point.

With a tie-break required to decide a winner, confident Mladenovic made a break on the 10th point then thumped an unstoppable forehand on match point that saw Halep surrender. wrapping up her win at the first time of asking with a rasping forehand that Halep could not return.

Mladenovic’s reward is a semi-final showdown with Karolina Pliskova, another player who will be competing at Devonshire Park.

Czech Republic’s rising star Karolina Pliskova brushed aside the challenge of #3 seed Carla Suarez Navarro in 65 minutes with 24 winners to register a comfortable 6-2 6-2 triumph.

Pliskova steamed into a 4-0 lead but dropped her her serve in the sixth game to give the Spanish star a sniff of a fightback. But Pliskova made no mistake to take the lead on 29 minutes.

The pair were locked into an entertaining battle at the start of the second set, but two breaks of serve handed Pliskova the initiative against Eastbourne-bound Suarez Navarro to serve out the set.

And although the Spanish clay court specialist looked dead and buried, she saved two match points before tasting defeat on the third match point.

There will be a finalist from Germany after #4 seed Angelique Kerber and Sabine Lisicki saw off Katerina Siniakova and Daniela Hantuchova in straight sets respectively.

Kerber, the 2014 Aegon International runner-up who returns to try to better last year, beat Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-2 6-4 in 85 minutes.

Siniakova served eight double faults and surprisingly the hard-hitting Kerber didn’t manage a single ace.

The opening set seemed a stroll for Kerber, twice an Eastbourne runner-up, who carved a 4-0 lead. One loss of serve each following but the German star required three set points on her serve.

Kerber was again in control, although had to be on her guard in a marathon eighth game to save two break points before securing a 5-3 lead.

With Siniakova serving to stay in the set, she held her nerve to stave off one match point and put the pressure back on her opponent.

Kerber in control

Kerber in control

Kerber’s wily experience was the difference, taking her time to polish off the match and be in with a shot of taking the title.

Number eight seed Lisicki stands in Kerber’s way after easing to a 7-6(2) 6-2 victory over Slovak Daniela Hantuchova in 87 minutes. With two breaks of serve each, Hantuchova saved three set points on her service game to make it 5-5.
But Lisicki made no mistake in the tiebreak, breaking her opponent three times and serving out the set.

The second set was one-sided, lasting a mere 29 minutes. The opening four games went with serve but then the Slovakian veteran lost her way to be broken time and Lisicki gobbled up the first match point on her service game.


Hantuchova defeated but heading to Eastbourne qualifiers

Hantuchova heads to Eastbourne to compete in the Qualifying Rounds whilst Lisicki eyes up the top prize in Birmingham before resting ahead of Wimbledon.

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