Kerber downs Halep in battle of former No. 1s
- John Matiesen
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.
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.