Djokovic advances, Kerber survives scare in Eastbourne

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Angelique Kerber / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT

Novak Djokovic defeated Canada’s Vasek Pospisil 6/4; 6/3 to advance to the quarterfinal after their match was delayed by rain for a whole day in Eastbourne. The top seeded Angelique Kerber, however, barely escaped an upset before outlasting Kristyna Pliskova, the hard-serving southpaw from Czech Republic, 4/6; 6/1; 7/5.

Djokovic was first at serving and held. The lanky Pospisil (1.93m) from Austin Texas hammered hard serves and held easily for the first eight games, to keep pace with Djokovic. However, after Djokovic took his serve to lead 5-4, Pospisil was under pressure to hold. He was behind 15-30 but leveled with his seventh ace of the set. He faced the first break point at 30-40 but attained deuce with another bomber of a serve. Djokovic returned the first delivery and rallied to a second break point, which he took to pocket the first set 6-4.

The crucial break came in the sixth game of the second set when the Canadian conceded three consecutive points. Djokovic consolidated the break to lead 5-2 presenting an up-hill battle for Pospisil. However, he opened the eighth game with an ace and proceeded to reduce the tally 3-5. In the serve for the match, Djokovic jumped to a 30-15 lead and had the first game point at 40-30 but his opponent saved the match point. At the first advantage in his favour, however, Djokovic held on to win the set 6-3, and attained a 5-0 career match record with the Canadian, who is ranked number 75 in the world.

Angelique Kerber faced a fellow southpaw in the tall 25-year old lady from Czech Republic, Kristyna Pliskova, who is ranked 44th in the world. Her twin sister and doubles partner, Karolina, is ranked third in the world. Kerber held her serves with difficulty while her opponent hammered aces to level each time the German lady led in games. The pattern continued until Kerber faced three break points in the ninth game and did not survive. Serving for the set at 5-4, Pliskova clinched the tenth game with an ace.

The world number one female player recouped to lead 2-1 in the second set and got the first break of the Pliskova serve in the fourth game. She held her serve to extend the lead 4-1. Needing to reduce the tally, Pliskova did not register her serving arsenal and lost the sixth game at love. Kerber served out the set, 6-1.

In the third set decider, Pliskova regained her strength and held the service games to stay level with Kerber. She succeeded in taking Kerber’s service game to lead 5-4, generating the possibility of an upset. However, Kerber fought back to level and took the next two games to win the set 7-5, for the match victory. Waiting to challenge her in the quarterfinals is the Spanish lady, Lara Arruabarenna, who defeated Australia’s Daria Gavrilova 2/6; 6/2; 6/3.



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