Kerber downs Halep in battle of former No. 1s

No. 4 seed Angelique Kerber defeated sixth seed Simona Halep 6-4, 6-3 on Thursday, progressing to the semifinals of the Eastbourne women's draw in the process.

In a contest between two former world No. 1s, defending Wimbledon champion Kerber started strong with two early breaks of serve. Although Halep, 27, was soon able to secure a break of her own, that wasn't enough to close the deficit and the Romanian surrendered the opener 6-4 after 35 minutes of play.

The second set followed a similar pattern with Germany's Kerber, 31, breaking twice in succession to race to a 3-0 lead. As in the first set, Halep responded by breaking back, but Kerber was able to remain composed and see off the 2018 French Open winner with a final break of serve at 5-3, sealing the set and taking the match.

Kerber will face unseeded Ons Jabeur in the final four, after the Tunisian -- who eliminated Britain's Johanna Konta earlier in the week -- secured a comeback victory over Alize Cornet 6-1, 5-7, 6-3.

"At this tournament, I'm the queen of losing the first set and then coming back," Jabeur said, having rallied back from a set down to win in three of her four matches in Eastbourne.

Third seed Kiki Bertens triumphed 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 over Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka. Bertens will face the victor of Ekaterina Alexandrova and second seed Karolina Pliskova to be played later on Thursday.

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In the men's draw, fifth seed Fernando Verdasco exited the tournament with a 7-6 (4), 6-2 loss to American Sam Querrey, and Queen's finalist Gilles Simon -- seeded sixth -- suffered a straight sets defeat to Thomas Fabbiano of Italy, 6-4, 6-3. Querrey and Fabbiano will go head to head in the tournament's semifinals on Friday.

American Taylor Fritz -- who upset top seed Guido Pella in the previous round -- overcame Poland's Hurbert Huracz 6-4, 7-6 (5) to set up a semifinal clash against winner of an all-English clash between No. 3 seed Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans.

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