Saturday’s Aegon International finalists have been decided with Madison Keys and Angelique Kerber advancing in the women’s draw, and Richard Gasquet and Feliciano Lopez duelling for the men’s title.
Friday was a beautiful day at Devonshire Park filled with some unforgettable matches that began with Kerber defeating former Aegon International champion Caroline Wozniacki 3-6 7-6 (3) 6-3 in a match that looked, early on, to be heading Wozniacki’s way.
The momentum shifted in the second set tie-break and Kerber’s fresher legs carried her over the finish line.
No. 5 seed Kerber will take on Madison Keys, who will play the first WTA final of her career at the Aegon International on Saturday, in the opening match on Centre Court (not before 1pm). They have only met twice before, at the Australian Open in 2013 and in Sydney this year, with Kerber having the upper hand in both matches.
Keys was delighted with her 6-3 6-1 win over Britain’s Heather Watson. “I definitely think I served well,” she said after the match. “When I had break points down, it definitely helped me out and got me back in some games.”
Having fallen during qualifying at Eastbourne in 2013, Keys says she has nothing to prove in tomorrow’s final. “Obviously I’m going to walk on with some nerves, but at the same time I’m just going to go for it, first final. I have nothing to lose.”
The American said she’s been studying her opponent and knows that she’ll have to get on top of Kerber’s game early in order to take control of the match. “I feel like she loses the first set almost every round and manages to pull it out. It will be a really good match,” she said.
Kerber was a finalist at the Aegon International in 2012 but lost to Tamira Paszek having held match points during the final, but said she won’t let nerves affect her this time around. “I will not be thinking about that tomorrow,” said the German. “That was two years ago and I think I have improved. I will just try and be in the moment and enjoy the finals and play like I played here the whole week.”
With Wimbledon approaching next week Kerber admits she enjoys this part of the season. “When I come here and play my first points or balls I feel like home actually, because I love grass. I think my game is also good for the surface.”
Watson advanced to Friday’s semifinal against Keys knowing that it would be hard to overcome her powerful serve, and it was that which led to her downfall in Friday’s match. “I tried to hang in there at the beginning, I had a few chances in the game early on, but wasn’t able to convert,” said Watson. “She just played too good for me today.”
Although disappointed with the score line, said that her Devonshire Park journey had built up her confidence as she works to improve her career-high ranking. “I’m playing better than I was, playing more positive, more aggressive. I think if I keep playing it will take me higher than 39.”
Watson heaped praise on her opponent saying that her ranking is not a reflection on her current form and there are good things to come from her. “Of all the WTA matches I have ever played, I think (Keys) was my toughest opponent ever. She’s still so young and she’s just maturing you know, [she] needs that consistency. If she doesn’t get top ten, I think she’s definitely underachieving.”
The Aegon International men’s title will be decided between top seed Richard Gasquet (FRA) and defending Aegon International champion Feliciano Lopez (ESP).
Gasquet defeated Denis Istomin 6-4 6-2 in Friday’s semifinal and said he is back in top form after recovering from the back injury that sidelined him during the clay court season prior to the French Open. “ The key on grass is to serve and return well. I’m very happy with the way I played, because it’s always hard to play on grass,” he said.
Gasquet said he will be looking to go into the match with the advantage of a few more hours rest than Lopez, but understood that Lopez would not be an easy opponent, “It will be a big match for me, but I’m ready for it, and I will try to fight the best I can and we will see what will happen,” he said.
Britain’s Dominic Inglot and his doubles partner Treat Huey (PHI) won the Aegon International men’s double’s final on Friday, beating top seeds Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares 7-5 5-7 10-8. The pairs were evenly matched throughout but it was in the Britain/Philippines combination’s serving that tipped the advantage their way.
Saturday’s third match on Centre Court sees Martina Hingis and Flavia Pennetta taking on Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan in the Aegon International women’s doubles final in a match scheduled to follow immediately after the men’s singles final on Centre Court.