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Defending champion Pliskova shocked in Eastbourne; Wozniacki through

  • Posted: Jun 28, 2018
2018 Nature Valley International on the BBC
Venue: Devonshire Park, Eastbourne Dates: 24-30 June
Coverage: Watch the women’s tournament live on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs, the BBC Sport website and app.

Aryna Sabalenka stunned defending champion and former world number one Karolina Pliskova to reach the semi-finals at Eastbourne.

Seventh-ranked Pliskova fell 6-3 2-6 7-6 (7-5) to the Belarusian at the Nature Valley International.

World number 45 Sabalenka trailed 1-4 in the final set but rallied, hitting a total of 40 winners to secure victory.

Top seed Caroline Wozniacki later progressed with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Australia’s Ashleigh Barty.

Wozniacki, the world number two, will play Angelique Kerber in the final four after the German beat Russia’s Daria Kasatkina 6-1 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-3).

  • Norrie out in Eastbourne quarter-finals
  • GB’s Robson to have hip surgery
  • Live scores, schedule and results

Pliskova of the Czech Republic struggled for consistency in the first set but recovered in the second, improving her first serve percentage to 83%.

She won four successive games in the decider but Sabalenka used her forehand to outmuscle Pliskova and claim her first victory over a top 10 player.

She will face Agnieszka Radwanska in the semi-finals, following the Pole’s 6-2 7-5 win over fifth seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

Radwanska, who won the Eastbourne title in 2008, has been on the sidelines since April with back and hip injuries.

“I took only three dresses with me – [I thought] it’s enough for sure,” she said afterwards.

“I thought maybe one or two matches at the most – especially as I’m unseeded.”

Elsewhere, Britain’s Katie Boulter beat American Jennifer Brady to reach the final of the Fuzion 100 Southsea Trophy.

World number 144 Boulter beat Brady – ranked 69 places above her – 6-3 6-3 to set up a meeting with Belgian second seed Kirsten Flipkens, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2013.

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Robert, Harrison Complete Memorable Wimbledon Qualifying Runs

  • Posted: Jun 28, 2018

Robert, Harrison Complete Memorable Wimbledon Qualifying Runs

Former World No. 10 Gulbis also moves through

Stephane Robert first played the Wimbledon main draw in 2010. And eight years later, at 38 years old, the Frenchman becomes the second-oldest qualifier in the tournament’s Open Era history (Neale Fraser, 40, 1974), defeating Italian Luca Vanni 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 on Thursday to move through.

Robert, who has climbed as high as No. 50 in the ATP Rankings, will compete in the grass-court Grand Slam’s main draw for the fifth time.

But the Frenchman is not the only player who completed a memorable qualifying run at Wimbledon. Christian Harrison, the 24-year-old brother of Ryan Harrison, qualified on the Roehampton grass for the first time with a 7-6(3), 7-5, 6-1 victory against Canadian Brayden Schnur.

“It means so much,” Harrison told “It’s special because my family is here, we’re all staying in the same spot, they were with me the whole step of the way. And I definitely wouldn’t have been here without their support.”

Harrison, who broke into the Top 200 of the ATP Rankings on Monday for the first time, dropped out of the rankings for nearly eight months from August 2015 through May 2016. In fact, due to seven surgeries, Harrison did not play a singles match at any level from July 2013 until January 2016.

Watch: Sweet Success For Harrison In New York

The World No. 200 will now get a chance to compete in a Grand Slam main draw for the second time (2016 US Open), which will mark his sixth tour-level match. Harrison’s lone tour-level victory came in Atlanta five years ago, when he beat Alejandro Falla in three sets.

Bradley Klahn, an American who missed 21 months due to back surgery from February 2015 until November 2016, will compete in his first Grand Slam main draw since the 2014 US Open. The left-handed 27-year-old beat Italian veteran Simone Bolelli 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3).

Read Klahn Feature

Latvian Ernests Gulbis, former World No. 10, will make his 11th appearance in the Wimbledon main draw after ousting Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. It is the six-time ATP World Tour champion’s first showing at the tournament as a qualifier.

In addition to Harrison, Aussies Alex Bolt and Jason Kubler, Frenchmen Benjamin Bonzi and Gregoire Barrere, German Yannick Maden and Austrian Dennis Novak will all make their Wimbledon debuts.

Ruben Bemelmans, the No. 2 seed, tied an Open Era record by qualifying for the fifth time, while Italians Stefano Travaglia and Thomas Fabbiano, Chilean Christian Garin, Aussie John-Patrick Smith and Slovakian Norbert Gombos also advanced.

Did You Know?
In 2017, two qualifiers reached the third round at Wimbledon: Ruben Bemelmans and Sebastian Ofner. 

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Monfils Sets Grass Tie-Breaker Against Mannarino

  • Posted: Jun 28, 2018

Monfils Sets Grass Tie-Breaker Against Mannarino

Monfils is pursuing his second ATP World Tour title of 2018

Gael Monfils began his year on the highest note possible, claiming his seventh ATP World Tour title at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. But entering the week, the Frenchman had reached just one semi-final since, at the Argentina Open.

However, the former World No. 6 has found his game this week in Antalya, defeating Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-6(3), 6-4 on Thursday to reach the final four at the Turkish Airlines Antalya Open.

“I’m happy,” Monfils said. “I think my game today was great. I served very good.”

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Monfils won 91 per cent (42/46) of first-service points against Garcia-Lopez, and saved the only break point he faced in the encounter. It is Monfils’ first tournament since Roland Garros, where he fell in a five-set thriller against David Goffin in the third round.

Now, the fourth-seeded wild card will enjoy his efforts, before turning his gaze to the semi-finals against a familiar grass-court foe in top-seeded compatriot Adrian Mannarino. Both of the Frenchmen’s FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings have come at Wimbledon. Monfils triumphed in straight sets three years ago, while Mannarino was victorious in five sets last year.

“I didn’t even think about it. I’m just happy I won the match. I will have time to think about the next game. But now, just coming off the court, I’m happy about my performance. I’m happy with the way I played. Tomorrow I know is going to be a big match. Always, the semi-finals are big. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

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Mannarino continued his pursuit of a first tour-level title, beating Millennium Estoril Open champion Joao Sousa by an identical 7-6(3), 6-4 scoreline to advance to the final four. The Portuguese had won the pair’s only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting in Acapulco four years ago.

Mannarino has reached four ATP World Tour finals (2 in 2015, 2 in 2017). The 29-year-old left-hander reached the final in Antalya a year ago, falling against Yuichi Sugita.

“I’m just trying to play my best every time I step on the court for a match,” Mannarino said. “I was just trying to fight on every point… that was a really, really close match.”

Did You Know?
Adrian Mannarino is one of four players in the Top 30 of the ATP Rankings without an ATP World Tour title. The other three are British No. 1 Kyle Edmund, South Korean Hyeon Chung and #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

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Kukushkin Upsets Edmund; Shapovalov Also Falls In Eastbourne

  • Posted: Jun 28, 2018

Kukushkin Upsets Edmund; Shapovalov Also Falls In Eastbourne

Zverev plays patient game against Shapovalov

Second seed Kyle Edmund and Denis Shapovalov both fell on Thursday in the Nature Valley International semi-finals.

Mikhail Kukushkin, currently No. 90 in the ATP Rankings, accounted for Edmund 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 in two hours and 14 minutes, much to the disappointment of the British crowd at Devonshire Park in Eastbourne.

Edmund saved one set point at 5-4, Ad-Out in the first set on a run of four straight games. Kukushkin bounced back with breaks of serve in the third and ninth games in the second set of the pair’s first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. The Kazakhstani then carried the momentum into the decider by winning the first three games.

Kukushkin, 30, is through to his first ATP World Tour semi-final since February 2017 at the Memphis Open (l. to Basilashvili). He will next face Mischa Zverev of Germany on the south coast of England.

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Earlier in the day, Zverev came back from a 1-3 deficit in the second set to beat Shapovalov, the 19-year-old #NextGenATP Canadian, 6-3, 6-3 in 81 minutes. Zverev, 30, advances to his first semi-final since October 2017 at the Moselle Open in Metz (l. to Gojowczyk).

After three straight service breaks, Zverev’s greater length of shot unsettled Shapovalov, who was broken to love at the end of the 31-minute opener. Shapovalov regrouped and held three break points for a 4-1 advantage, but Zverev won five straight games, largely capitalising on Shapovalov’s second serve. The match ended with a backhand error from Shapovalov.

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Laura Robson: Former British number one to have hip surgery

  • Posted: Jun 28, 2018

Britain’s Laura Robson will have hip surgery in an effort to get her career back on track.

Robson won the Wimbledon girls title 10 years ago and reached a career high of 27 in the world as a teenager.

The 24-year-old has struggled with wrist problems since 2014 and has fallen to 351st in the world.

The former British number one has not played a singles match since May, instead concentrating on doubles to protect the injury.

  • Ward & Tomic miss out on Wimbledon place; Bouchard qualifies
  • Live scores, schedule and results

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Eastbourne 2018: Cameron Norrie beaten by Lukas Lacko in quarter-finals

  • Posted: Jun 28, 2018
2018 Nature Valley International on the BBC
Venue: Devonshire Park, Eastbourne Dates: 24-30 June
Coverage: Watch the women’s tournament live on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs, the BBC Sport website and app.

British number two Cameron Norrie fell to a straight-set defeat by Lukas Lacko in the Eastbourne quarter-finals.

Norrie, ranked 79th in the world, lost 6-3 6-4 to the 94th-ranked Slovak.

Both players struck five aces but Norrie also hit three double faults and converted just one of five break points over 76 minutes.

Kyle Edmund, the British number one, plays Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin for a place in the semi-finals from 16:00 BST.

Norrie traded breaks with Lacko in the opening set but the Slovak reeled off the final three games to take the set in 35 minutes.

Norrie was unable to close down the Lacko serve, hitting 16 winners but making 23 unforced errors on the Eastbourne grass.

The 22-year-old is set to play at Wimbledon on 2 July.

  • Watch live Wimbledon qualifying
  • Wimbledon no fitness risk, says Murray
  • Live scores, schedule and results

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Murray: 'The Last Couple Of Weeks Have Been Positive'

  • Posted: Jun 28, 2018

Murray: ‘The Last Couple Of Weeks Have Been Positive’

Murray reflects on comeback events after loss to countryman Edmund

After a straight-sets loss to countryman Kyle Edmund at the Nature Valley International on Wednesday, former World No. 1 Andy Murray took time to reflect on his comeback performances after an 11-month absence from the ATP World Tour.

Murray focussed on his progress, rather than results, as a measure of success after falling to the 23-year-old Brit after one hour and 40 minutes. The 31-year-old, who lost to Nick Kyrgios in three sets in the Fever-Tree Championships first round last week, notched his first tour-level victory in almost a year on Monday against former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka.

“I need to be very patient just now and not get too high or low depending on a few results,” said Murray. “Hopefully things can continue to go in the right direction, but… it takes time and I’ll certainly give it my best shot.”

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Tough draws have not helped the 45-time tour-level titlist’s return to action, with Kyrgios and Wawrinka his first opponents at The Queen’s Club and Eastbourne. But the top-level opponents have provided Murray with a chance to compare his game with the world’s elite.

“Certainly the last couple of weeks have been positive, and I’ve [played] three matches all against top, top players,” said Murray. “Obviously Stan (Wawrinka) is coming back from injury, as well, but Kyle and Nick (Kyrgios) are Top 20 players. A couple of weeks ago I probably wasn’t sure whether I was going to be able to do that or not. So that’s a positive thing, and hopefully things keep going in that sort of direction.”

In both of Murray’s losses, to Kyrgios and Edmund, the British star has tried to gain valuable knowledge about his level, in terms of performance, physical conditioning and match sharpness.

“With each match I’m trying to gain information about where I’m at physically and where my game is at. The matches have been helpful for that… With Nick I felt like I was returning huge, huge serves but also getting more free points on my serve.

“Today, that wasn’t really the case. I was reacting a lot on the court rather than being the one that was dictating on my own serve. They are the sort of things that when you play against the best players, which obviously Kyle is one of them, over the course of the match, that tells a little bit,” reflected Murray.

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One element of Murray’s game that may take some time to return to peak condition appears to be his serve. The 2016 Nitto ATP Finals champion won just 59 per cent of service points in his loss to the Grand Prix Hassan II runner-up and was broken on three occasions.

“My serve has been something that’s been a struggle to practise,” admitted Murray. “I haven’t really hit loads of serves in the last 11 months or so. Maybe it’s been a bit more inconsistent, or up and down, a bit like the rest of my game at times.”

An interesting side note to Murray’s absence on the ATP World Tour in the past year has been the emergence of Edmund. Edmund overtook Murray to become the new British No. 1 on 5 March after a strong start to the 2018 season, which included a run to his maiden Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open.

“I’m really happy that Kyle’s doing really well,” said Murray. “It’s great for British tennis… Obviously this is a really good thing for British tennis that, with the stage of my career I’m at, [there is] another player at the top of the game. Hopefully he’ll be competing for the biggest tournaments.”

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With the third Grand Slam of the season taking place next week at Wimbledon, two-time champion Murray shared his mindset as he prepares to make the decision on whether or not to participate on the mown lawns of the All England Club. 

“It’s just [a matter of] whether I feel like I’m able to do myself justice… Two weeks ago I practised with Kyle and I didn’t win a game,” shared Murray. “That was the first set or points that I played in six months… I have made decent improvements the last couple of weeks and obviously have been somewhat competitive in the matches that I have played.

“I don’t just want to go out there to just play. I want to be able to compete properly. And if I don’t feel like I can do that, then I won’t play. If I do and physically I feel ready, mentally I’m in the right place, then I’ll go for it.”

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