Kerber happy with perfect Wimbledon preparation at Eastbourne

Eastbourne (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber is feeling confident ahead of the defence of her title after easing into the quarter-final of the Eastbourne International on Wednesday.

Kerber, who has twice reached the final at Eastbourne, was forced to save set points in the first set against Rebecca Peterson, but romped through the second to seal a 7-6(4), 6-0 victory.

"I like to play on grass," said the three-time Grand Slam champion. "This is the best preparation for me for Wimbledon.

"You are playing here, the fans are cheering for you, and you have good opponents, you have the competition.

"Every match it's really tight and close. You have to play good tennis. That's why I'm coming back every year to have these matches before another Grand Slam."

Kerber next faces a fellow former world number one in Simona Halep after the Romanian got the better of Polona Hercog 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki's hopes of a third Eastbourne title were dashed as Aryna Sabalenka gained revenge for defeat to the Dane in last year's final 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5).

Sabalenka trailed 2-5 in the deciding set and saved a match point on the Wozniacki serve before reaching the last eight on a tie-break.

Top remaining seed Karolina Pliskova breezed past Elise Mertens, 6-1, 6-2 in just an hour on court to avoid the hassle of a rain break.

"I was not really rushing, except maybe the last game because it started to rain," said the world number three.

"Overall, I think everything just went a little bit my way today since the beginning. I felt like, it's bad to say, but there was no chance that I was going to lose today."

Pliskova faces Ekaterina Alexandrova next after the Russian secured her place in the quarter-finals when former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko was forced to retire early in the second set after losing the first 6-3.

Third seed Kiki Bertens was equally impressive in seeing off Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-3, 6-3 to set up a quarter-final clash with Sabalenka.

Johanna Konta's preparations for her home Grand Slam suffered a blow, though, as the British number one was comprehensively outplayed in a 6-3 6-2 defeat to Ons Jabeur.

The Tunisian will face Alize Cornet, who beat Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-2, in the last eight.