By Scott Williams, AFP
EASTBOURNE, England–Caroline Wozniacki reached the quarter-finals of the Eastbourne International on Wednesday with a 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-1 win over fellow former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. But 2014 Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard was facing a fitness battle ahead of the third Grand Slam event of the season next week after suffering an event-ending abdominal strain. The ex-titleholders at Devonshire Park (Wozniacki, 2009 and Kuznetsova, 2004) were meeting for the 10th time, with second seed Wozniacki now leading the series 6-4. But the Dane lost her way in the opening set as she let a comfortable 5-2 lead slip. Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam winner, seized the initiative, running off five of six games to force a tiebreak after annulling a Wozniacki set point in the 12th game. The Russian then prevailed for the early lead after seizing six set points and converting with an ace on her fourth. ��Obviously you’re not too happy with yourself after that,�� said Wozniacki.
��But you just have to get yourself together and get back on the horse, as they say, and try to win the second set. ��On grass, losing a set being up 5-1 is not ideal. She started playing better, she started returning deeper and she upped her game. I had a set point I didn’t take. ��Then all of a sudden I see myself being down in the tiebreaker. I don’t know what happened.�� Wozniacki mounted a fightback in the second set and played carefully so as not blow a 5-1 lead in the final set. ��I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again,�� said the former number one, recalling her first-set wobble.
��The only thing that really matters is to get the win. Wozniacki will play a quarter-final against tenth seed Andrea Petkovic after the German defeated CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-4. Belinda Bencic reached her second grass-court quarter-final of the summer, with the Swiss teenager advancing 6-4, 3-0 as Bouchard retired injured. Bouchard, the seventh-seeded Canadian whose prospects for repeating her Wimbledon final of a year ago are looking exceedingly dim, lasted 54 minutes before calling for the trainer to treat an abdominal injury. The Canadian could now face a fitness race before the Monday start at the All England Club. But she vowed: ��I’m going to play (Wimbledon) no matter what, even if I’m on one leg. I’ll take a few days off from serving and give it a little break and see how it goes.�� Bencic will now face Britain’s Johanna Konta who put out Spanish 14th seed Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Bouchard reached three Grand Slam semi-finals in 2014 but has now lost 11 of her last 13 matches in a slump dating back to mid-March. Bencic, meanwhile, reached the final on grass in the Netherlands 10 days ago, losing to Camila Giorgi. She is playing Eastbourne for a second year after losing in the opening round in 2014. In other results, ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska beat number eight Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-1 and Russian lucky loser Daria Gavrilova defeated Italian 13th seed Sara Errani 6-1, 5-7, 6-2. Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova defeated last year’s Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-1 while American Sloane Stephens knocked out Briton Heather Watson 6-2, 6-3.