A change is gonna come. Aryna Sabalenka had not beaten a top 10 player so far. At the fourth try, she completed the biggest upset at Nature Valley International so far. The hard-hitting Belarusian came back from 1-4 down in the third set to overcome the title-holder Karolina Pliskova, bidding to defend a title for the first time in her career, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(5).
Sabalenka, playing her maiden Premier-level quarterfinal, collected the 20th WTA win of the season delivering 40 winners and committing 39 unforced errors, a remarkable performance for a player with her flat, risky groundstrokes.
Pliskova, who won the same amount of points as her opponents, 100 each, grabbed 32 winners to 35 errors and Sabalenka did the difference in her 14th third-setter of the year. Sabalenka will meet Agnieszka Radwanska, one of the three former champions to reach the quarter-finals at Nature Valley International.
The unseeded Pole, bidding for her first WTA final since Sydney in 2017, beat Jelena Ostapenko for the second time after the round 16 victory en route to her 2016 New Haven title. Ostapenko, aiming to reach the first career semifinal on grass, surrendered to a 6-2, 7-5 defeat despite serving for the second set at 5-4.
The Pole returned in action this week for the first time since she retired in Istanbul in the first-round clash against Donna Vekic, and claimed her first semifinal since New Haven 2017. The 2008 champion (d. Petrova) and 2015 runner-up (l.Bencic), entered the tournament at No.31, her second lowest ranking ever at Eastbourne, behind only 2007 (No.38), her debut appearance.
She opened the 12th consecutive campaign defeating in the first round Timea Babos, her first win since upsetting No.1 Halep in the third-round in Miami. That was the second and latest Top 20 win of the season for the former Wimbledon final, who risked to play the eight third-setter of the year.
But Ostapenko, in her maiden quarter-final in Eastbourne, the fourth in the lat six events contested, showed all her inconsistencies in the last three games. In blustering winds, Caroline Wozniacki sealed to the sixth semifinal at the Devonshire Park.
The 2009 champion and 2017 runner-up completed her 25th win here as she defeated 6-4 6-3 Ashleigh Barty. Eight winners were enough for the Dane, who reduced her unforced errors tally to 15. Barty's 29 did the difference. Wozniacki, who trained with Barty earlier this week, managed to stay aggressive to complete her fifth Top 20 win of the season, the first since beating Sevastova in Rome.
In her seventh semifinal of the year, after Auckland, Australian Open, St.Petersburg, Doha, Istanbul and Rome, Wozniacki will meet Kerber to clinch her 30th win in 2018. The German defeated 6-1 6-7 7-6 Daria Kasatkina, whose presence ensured that for a 15th straight year Russia has at least one quarterfinal representative, to claim her fourth semifinal in Sydney, Australian Open and Dubai.
Kerber, owning a 26-4 record against lower ranked opponents this season, completed the third win in six meetings against Kasatkina and is now just a single victory away from his sixth final in the tournament history, having lost the title-match in 2012 to Paszek and in 2014 to Keys. Her 32nd win of the year was her ninth Top 20 victory of the season, her first such win on grass.