2015 Aegon International

Wednesday’s Round-up: Resurgent Stephens

Stephens: Still flying the flag for the USA

Sloane Stephens, dubbed the next big thing on the WTA Tour, is finally finding her feet on the competitive circuit with a combination of elegant but powerful tennis.

The affable American ace found her groove to embarrass British #1 Heather Watson in front of her vocal supporters on Centre Court with a formidable 6-2 6-3 thrashing.

And with so many Americans competing at this year’s Eastbourne, Stephens needs to maintain her fine form on grass over the next two-and-a-half weeks to stand out from her compatriots.

But American Coco Vengeweghe won’t be joining Stephen’s in the semi-finals having lost to #10 seed Andrea Petkovic 6-3 6-4 in a match that lacked any real spark either on the court or by the sparsely populated Court No.1 fans.

Stephens faces Russian Daria Gavrilova for a place in the last four. The Australian-based 21-year-old’s dream week at the Aegon International continued with a hard-fought triumph over former French Open finalist Sara Errani.

Gavrilova was reinstated in the tournament as a ‘Lucky loser’ when current Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova withdrew on Sunday with a viral infection.

And Gavrilova, who was unsuccessful in Qualifying has taken her chances with aplomb and overturned the gutsy Italian #13 seed 6-1 5-7 6-2 in just over two hours on Court No.1.

Polish #9 seed Agnieszka Radwanska also carved out a big win on Court No.1, outplaying in-form Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-2 6-1.

Radwanska, the 2012 Wimbledon runner-up, is looking impressive and with seeds scattered will surely fancy her chances of emulating her 2008 success story at Eastbourne this year.

Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova is Radwanska’s next opponent. Pironkova took out another seeded player having seen off Australian Sam Stosur on Tuesday she took the scalp of Slovak Dominika Cibulkova 6-7(4) 6-4 6-1.

Caroline Wozniacki has not been at her best on the south coast so far despite the Centre Court crowd rallying for her. The 2009 Eastbourne champion dug in deep to despatch Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, another former champion, 6-7(3) 6-3 6-1. Wozniacki meets German Andrea Petkovic in the quarter-finals.

And Switzerland’s rising star Belinda Bencic comprehensively dismissed 2014 Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard, who ended her nightmare match by citing an abdominal strain to tumble 6-4 3-0. The Canadian reached three Grand Slam semi-finals last year but her poor form in 2015 has resulted in 11 defeats from her past 13 matches dating back to March.

British Johanna Konta should give Bencic more of a match, especially as she beat the teenager in the 2014 Aegon International. The British #3, who resides in her adopted town of Eastbourne, scored a 6-4 4-6 6-3 success over Spanish #14 seed Garbine Muguruza.

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