EASTBOURNE, England - Angelique Kerber took out arguably the most dangerous unseeded player in the draw on Thursday - and quickly. The German outdid former Aegon International winner Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets to become the first player into the semifinals of the Premier-level event.
Makarova has been one of the most dangerous players in Eastbourne over the years, not only capturing the title in 2010 - and not even losing a set during that run - but also reaching the quarters another five times (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013 and now 2014). Clearly she likes the conditions here.
On top of that, Makarova has been one of Kerber's toughest match-ups over the years. The pair came into this match-up an even 4-4 in their head-to-head, and 2-2 on grass - and in their most recent grass court encounter, it was Makarova who prevailed right here a year ago in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.
The Turning Point
The turning point came early on in the match, and at a very unexpected moment. After a pair of tight service holds to start the match, Makarova blew through her next service game at love - and that seemed to be the trigger Kerber needed, as the No.5-seeded German went on an absolute tear from there, reeling off eight games in a row to go from 1-2 to 6-2, 3-0. She was up 40-15 on serve in the next game, lost her serve to make it 6-2, 3-1, but then didn't drop another game to seal it, 6-2, 6-1.
It was the most lopsided match the two had ever played against each other - before this, the fewest games the winner had lost was six. The 64-minute rout was Kerber's 29th match win of the year.
By The Numbers
Kerber's returning success pops off the stats sheet - not only did she win 48% of the points on Makarova's first serve (19 of 40), she won a whopping 78% of the points on Makarova's second serve (14 of 18). Her aggression on the Russian's delivery brought her 13 break point opportunities during the match, of which she converted six. In fact she won Makarova's last six service games.
"It was not as easy as the score says, because there were tough rallies, and I knew it wouldn't be easy before the match because we'd had a lot of close matches in the past," Kerber said. "She's a great player on grass, so I was just focusing on me, trying to be aggressive and taking my chances.
"I like to play on grass. That's why I'm playing the week before Wimbledon, to have some more good matches on grass. I have great memories from Eastbourne, so I'm happy to come back and play here."