Viet Nam News
EASTBOURNE - Novak Djokovic handled a spirited challenge from Donald Young for a 6-2, 7-6 (11/9) win on Thursday to move into the semi-finals of the pre-Wimbledon event at Eastbourne.
In the women’s draw, top seed Angelique Kerber crashed out in the quarter-finals but with Simona Halep, the second seed, also losing, the German was able to retain her world number one ranking through Wimbledon.
As the tournament played catch-up after days of rain, German star Kerber made the third round by seeing off Lara Arruabarrena 6-2, 6-1.
But she had to return later in the day and was knocked out in the quarter-finals by hometown favourite Johanna Konta, seeded five, 6-3, 6-4.
Kerber produced seven double-faults while Konta accounted for six aces in victory although the match ended in drama when the British player suffered a horror fall, turning her ankle and banging her head on the surface.
After a lengthy delay, Konta claimed victory on a fourth match point.
"The conditions are really tough. Especially with the last days where we are waiting the whole day and walking on court, walking off," Kerber said.
"Then it’s sunny, and then we have half shadow, half sun on court. So it was really tough out there.
"Especially also now at the end of the day it was a little bit slippery because it’s getting night, it’s getting cold. At the end it was a good match, she played good in the important moments."
Konta had earlier downed French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.
Kerber added: "I’m feeling good. I had three matches right now before going to Wimbledon. This was my goal, to have matches."
Kerber’s only consolation was seeing Halep beaten by former world number one Caroline Wozniacki 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 in her quarter-final.
"It was a tough match. I was leading. I think I played really well, but in the third set I was a little bit tired," Halep said.
"It’s normal. I played many sets today (she beat Tsvetana Pironkova in three sets earlier in the day). But was a good match and in the end she was stronger."
Friday’s semis will pit Konta against Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova, who came from 1-4 down in the final set to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7 (7/9), 6-2, 6-4.
Briton Heather Watson, a 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 winner against Barbora Strycova, takes on Wozniacki.
Top seed Djokovic, competing during the week before Wimbledon for the first time in seven years, saved a pair of set points in the second set before finally putting Young away after a lengthy tie-break.
"The first set went my way and I played good, I felt good on the court," Djokovic said. "It was very close second set. Obviously could have gone easily his way.
"I’m just glad the way I held my composure, my nerves. This is the kind of match situation that I was looking forward to have, and I’m glad it happened today and managed to overcome it."
The former world number one is rebuilding for Wimbledon after a poor past year by his standards and is pointing toward the grass-court major as an immediate goal.
"There is always something that is going on (around the sport). But we are not robots. We are humans. We have to deal with those things," said the three-time Wimbledon champion.
Djokovic will next face 20-year-old Russian Daniil Medvedev who put out American forth seed Steve Johnson 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.
The other semi-final is an all-French affair between Richard Gasquet, the seventh seed, and second-seeded Gael Monfils.
Gasquet saw off American third seed John Isner 6-3, 6-2 while Monfils defeated Bernard Tomic of Australia 7-6 (7/4), 6-0. AFP