2015 Aegon Classic

Pliskova’s double trouble

Karolina Pliskova registered back-to-back victories to breeze into the last eight at the Birmingham grass court tournament.

The Czech ace polished off battling Brit Johanna Konta 3-6 6-3 6-4, resuming at 4-3 following rain the previous day. They each held the service games with the world #12 not dropping a point on her serve to seal success.

And red-hot Pliskova swiftly dismissed Devonshire Park-bound Zarina Diyas 6-2 6-2. The Kazakhstan ace lost her serve twice in the opening set and missed out on putting away four break points to trail after 39 minutes.

With the bit between her teeth Pliskova went for the big shots and took control of the net, unnerving Diyas who only her serve once to tumble in a one-sided set that was over in 28 minutes.

Her opponent will be #3 seed Carla Suarez Navarro, who needed four match points to win the battle of Devonshire Park-bound players. The Spaniard collected a 6-3 6-4 victory in 81 minutes to send veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova packing.

The opening set got off to a thunderous start with 20 points over the first two games and Kuznetsova twice fluffing break point. The Russian #13 seed dropped her serve just once, enough for Suarez Navarro to serve out the set.

It was a strange second set, comprising few points until the ninth game. Suarez Navarro sped into a 4-1 lead only to drop her serve and allow her opponent back into the contest.

Kuznetsova, serving to stay in the tournament, twice saved match points to reduce the deficit to 5-4. And the Spaniard required two more match points before sealing her berth.

Kristina Mladenovic, the rising French star who will compete at Eastbourne, booked a Aegon Classic quarter-final showdown with top seed Simona Halep.

Mladenovic shocked #10 seed Barbora Strycova 7-6(4) 6-2 of the Czech Republic, and the pair could have a repeat match on grass at next week’s Aegon International.

It took three set points to claim the opening set, and after Mladenovic saved three break points in the fourth game of the second set it was one-way traffic that was sewn up in 96 minutes.

Mladenovic’s reward for victory is a tricky tie against Romanian Simona Halep, the 2014 Wimbledon semi-finalist, who took less than an hour to dismiss Czech Klara Koukalova 6-1 6-3. Mladenovic conquered Canadian Eugenie Bouchard in her first match, who arrives at Eastbourne with 10 defeats from her past 11 matches.

American Christina McHale was the first victim of the day, and joins Kuznetsova on the road to Eastbourne after suffering a 6-4 6-0 70-minute reversal at the hands of Czech Katerina Siniakova. Although McHale dropped her service game six times, she managed to save two match points.

Kerber

Kerber

Angelique Kerber, last year’s runner-up at Eastbourne, faces Siniakova. The German had few problems to despatch Serbia’s ex-world #1 Jelena Jankovic 6-4 6-2. Kerber saved four break points in the sixth game, broke Jankovic three games later and fluffed one set point before carving out the lead.

Kerber turned on the style with her power game to sweep past the former world #1, who twice dropped her serve and hot wayward shots to exit in 70 minutes.

Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, who this week broke the WTA Tour aces record with 27 against Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, and edged past Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova 7-6(7) 6-4 and faces another Slovak in the shape of veteran Danielle Hantuchova – who stuttered past Portugal’s Michelle Larcher de Brito.

Quarter-finals
Suarez Navarro vs Pliskova
Halep v Mladenovic
Siniakova v Kerber
Lisicki v Hantuchova

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