Halep fights past Hercog, sets up quarterfinal meeting with Kerber in Eastbourne

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After needing only 53 minutes to dispatch Hsieh Su-Wei in the second round of the Nature Valley International, sixth seed Simona Halep looked to be on the same route in her third-round match against qualifier Polona Hercog, but the Slovenian complicated things for the former world No.1 and lost only after fighting in three sets and saving three match points.

The world No.60 Hercog was supposed to be nothing more than a challenging practice for Halep and initially it seemed that the match would be just that, as Hercog was absolutely crushed in the first set, not hitting a single winner. Hercog’s first serve percentage was below 50% and on the second serve she won just 25% of points. Overall, Halep absolutely dominated the first set and the only bad side of her game was that she needed six set points to close out the set 6-1.

In the second set, both players boasted a 100% break point conversion, but it was Hercog who earned one break point more than her opponent and she even broke Halep at love in the ninth game before taking the set 6-4.

Repeating the storyline of the opening set, Halep raced to a 4-0 lead and although Hercog managed to win two straight games to decrease the Romanian’s advantage, the former world No.1 was eventually too strong for the qualifier. After wasting two match points at 5-2 in the decider, Halep capitalized on her fourth in the following game, while serving for the match, 1-6 6-4 6-3.

At the end of the match, the winners/unforced errors stats read 18/40 for Hercog and 21/21 for Halep.

In the Eastbourne quarterfinals, Halep will face fourth seed Angelique Kerber, who defeated Rebecca Peterson 7-6(4) 6-0 earlier on Wednesday. Halep and Kerber have faced each other 10 times so far, and Halep leads their head-to-head record 6-4, although it was the Romanian who lost their only meeting on grass, the quarterfinals of Wimbledon 2016.

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