Ekaterina Alexandrova is into just the second grass court quarterfinal of her career at the Nature Valley International after Jelena Ostapenko was forced to retire.
Stephanie Livaudais
June 26, 2019

EASTBOURNE, Great Britain - Ekaterina Alexandrova is into just the second grass court quarterfinal of her career at the Nature Valley International after moving past an ailing Jelena Ostapenko, 6-3, 2-1 (ret.)

Earlier in the week, Alexandrova had to come from a set down to see off last week's Mallorca Open finalist, Belinda Bencic, in a stunner. Now, she’s backed it to outlast the former French Open winner, who was forced to retire from the contest after 55 minutes citing a left hip injury.

Read more: Pliskova powers through Mertens clash, reaches Eastbourne quarterfinal

As a result, Alexandrova will meet No.2 seed Karolina Pliskova in her fourth quarterfinal of the year - and her second ever on grass after a solid week in ‘s-Hertogenbosch earlier in the season. 

“I’m very pleased to be in the quarterfinals, but it’s not the way that I wanted the match to end,” Alexandrova admitted afterwards. “It was a tough day to play, so windy. I’m just happy that I have a couple more hours to rest before the next match.”

Up against Ostapenko on Court 2, Alexandrova had to outlast the big hitting Latvian during a closely contested opening set - there were six breaks of serve in nine games, but the majority of them went Alexandrova’s way, starting the set with a daunting 4-0 lead.

Ostapenko’s booming returns were causing Alexandrova trouble of her own, keeping her under pressure during her service games before finally breaking to make it 4-2. The pair stayed toe to toe for the rest of the set, with another four breaks in a row shifting the momentum between the two players. But in the end, Ostapenko only managed to hold serve once in the whole set, and Alexandrova broke to take it 6-3.

After the first set, Ostapenko took a lengthy medical time out, receiving treatment off court. When she came back out, she earned a fast break for a 1-0 lead - but much like in the first set, she wasn’t able to hold her own serve to back it up, and Alexandrova brought them back to 1-1. 

The former French Open winner fought through hobbled movement for another game, before finally calling time and retiring from the match - sending Alexandrova into the quarterfinals. 

In photos: Beside the seaside: All the best photos from Eastbourne

No.2 seed Pliskova awaits in the next round as Alexandrova seeks a spot in the semifinals. It’ll be the pair’s second career meeting, after Pliskova triumphed in their 2017 French Open second-round encounter. 

“I like playing on grass, I get really excited for it every year,” Alexandrova said. “I think it will be tough [against Pliskova] because she serves so well. Not only the serve, she just plays so well. We’ll see!”