Only four players remain in contention at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne. Three bona fide stars and a streaking underdog are left. Who will make it to Saturday’s final? Check out our picks below.
WTA Eastbourne Semifinal Predictions
Ons Jabeur vs Angelique Kerber
Head to Head: first meeting
Jabeur is the Cinderella story of Eastbourne. The Tunisian, who started the week with just six wins on the season, has climbed roughly 60 spots in the Race to Singapore with her triumphs over Evgeniya Rodina, Mandy Minella, Johanna Konta, and Alize Cornet. Three of those wins came after dropping the opening set. In contrast, Kerber has looked absolutely commanding, dismissing Samantha Stosur, Rebecca Peterson and Simona Halep in straights. Jabeur has let his forehand fly this week whenever her feet are well positioned. Besides, her change-of-pace drop shots have often wreaked havoc.
Unfortunately for Jabeur, Kerber is arguably the best defender on tour. Not only that, but the German’s flat strokes really penetrate on grass. Her inside out and inside in flat forehands are truly fearsome on this surface. Jabeur must go for broke, hit her targets on a regular basis and that might still not suffice versus Kerber. The reigning Wimbledon champion will force Jabeur to hit many shots from weaker stances where she isn’t nearly as effective.
Prediction: Kerber in 2
(EDIT: Unfortunately, Jabeur suffered an ankle injury prior to the match and withdrew from the tournament. Kerber received a walkover into the final.)
Kiki Bertens vs Karolina Pliskova
Head to Head: Bertens 3-2 Pliskova
Folks, we are in for a tremendous lower half semifinal. Bertens and Pliskova have collected 34 and 33 wins respectively in 2019, trailing only World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty’s 38 victories. Since her defeat to Petra Kvitova at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix of Stuttgart in April, Bertens has played 20 matches. If we take out of the equation her second round retirement at Roland Garros against Viktoria Kuzmova when trailing 3-1, the Dutch has won an impressive 19 first sets in a row. Bertens is putting pressure on her opponents from the get-go, and swimming against the tide against a player of her magnitude isn’t precisely easy.
This week, the 27-year-old cruised past Yulia Putintseva and Anna-Lena Friedsam before gutting out a competitive duel against the resurgent Aryna Sabalenka 6-4 3-6 6-4. Meanwhile, Pliskova dropped just 11 games en route to the semis. The 2017 Nature Valley International champion dominated Margarita Gasparyan, Elise Mertens and Ekaterina Alexandrova both on serve and return. Beating Bertens is a much taller order, though.
Their overall ELO Ratings are eerily similar. On paper, that suggests a closely contested matchup. Ultimately, I believe Pliskova arrives at this stage a bit fresher so I favor her to advance.
Prediction: Pliskova in 3
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