Leylah Fernandez reaches the semifinals at Eastbourne. She’ll face defending champion Madison Keys

EASTBOURNE, England (AP) — Former U.S. Open finalist Leylah Fernandez advanced to her first semifinal of the year at the Eastbourne International by beating Harriet Dart 6-2, 6-1 on Thursday.

With Wimbledon starting on Monday, Fernandez is finding a comfort zone on the grass courts.

“I’m not the biggest nor the strongest out there on tour,” Fernandez said, “but I do know that if I move my feet right and I have a solid base on my legs, then I will be able to hit the balls that I want in the direction that I want it. So for me, the key is the legs and the footwork.”

The 21-year-old Fernandez will next face defending champion Madison Keys after the American advanced by walkover when Karolina Muchova withdrew because of a right wrist injury.

The other semifinal will feature French Open finalist Jasmine Paolini against Daria Kasatkina.

Paolini eliminated Katie Boulter 6-1, 7-6 (0) to reach her first grass-court semifinal and Kasatkina defeated Emma Raducanu 6-2, 6-2.

Fernandez achieved her career-best result when she reached the 2021 U.S. Open final, losing to Raducanu.

Kasatkina, the runner-up to Keys last year, said the weather conditions made it so she was mostly trying to keep the ball in the court.

“The conditions are very tough. It’s super windy. It’s very difficult to do some nice things,” the Russian said. “(Paolini) is having a great season. She’s playing amazing, she’s on fire. But I’m also not too bad. I think it’s going to be a good match tomorrow.”

In the men’s quarterfinals, local wild card Billy Harris rallied past Flavio Cobolli 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-2 and will face Australian qualifier Max Purcell, who beat Miomir Kecmanovic 6-3, 7-6 (4).

In a matchup of qualifiers, Aleksandar Vukic defeated Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) and will play top-seeded Taylor Fritz, who eliminated Chinese qualifier Shang Juncheng 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).


AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis

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