Monfils, Djokovic through to ATP Eastbourne semifinals

Gael Monfils overwhelmed home town hope, Cameron Norrie 6/3; 6/2, while Novak Djokovic defeated America’s Donald Young 6/2; 7/6 (9) to reach the semifinals at Eastbourne. It was a different story with second seeded lady, Simona Halep of Romania, who battled for two hours and 40 minutes before defeating Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova by a close score of 6/7 (6); 7/6 (4); 7/5.

The 21-year old South- African born Briton, Cameron Norrie (ranked 236 in the world) received a wildcard entry into the main draw and won the first round match against 29-year Horatio Zeballos of Argentina, 6/4; 7/6. However, in the quarterfinals, he faced the colourful and talented Frenchman, Monsieur Monfils. Their one-sided encounter lasted only 58 minutes.

Djokovic had a quick first set against Donald Young but it was a different experience in the second. On crucial points, the 27-year old left-handed player from Chicago took maximum advantage of his slice serve to his opponent’s left court. The games went with serve ultimately leading to a tie-break that could have gone either way. Djokovic took the set on the 20th point of the breaker. It was their second career meeting since they faced each other in the first round of the 2006 US Open. At that face-off, the American took the first set tie break before the Serbian conceded only four games in taking the subsequent sets for the match.

 A day after the seeding placed her second for The Championships, Wimbledon, and Romanian Simona Halep faced the threat of an upset by Bulgarian Pironkova, who is ranked 149 in the world.

The Bulgarian won the first set by eight points to six. In the second set, each player fought and retained service game.

In the eighth game, Pironkova needed to hold serve to level. Although she had game point, Halep forced a deuce and clinched the break on her fourth advantage. She extended the lead to 5-3 on her serve. Tsvetana won the ninth game to reduce the tally and broke her opponent’s serve to level five games apiece. Although the 12th game reached deuce, Tsvetana held to take set into a tie-break, which Simona won by six points to four.

In the decider, Tsvetana won the frist game on her serve but Simona struggled to hold hers to level one game apiece. The third game was prolonged. Pironkova faced a break point at 30-40; canceled it and lost two successive advantage points before winning the game on the third opportunity.

Halep broke her opponent’s serve to take the sixth game for a 4-2 lead, but was also broken in the very next game. The Bulgarian held serve to level in the eighth game. Serving at 5-all, Pironkova lost three straight points to concede the break. The world’s Number Two female player won her serve to clinch the set by seven games to five.

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