Abdominal strain for Gavrilova

Former champion Agnieszka Radwanska reached the semi-finals of the WTA’s Eastbourne International on Thursday with a straightforward 6-2 6-2 defeat of Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova.

The 2008 champion from Poland, who went out in the first round on the English south coast in three successive editions from 2012-2014, needed just 65 minutes to advance from four breaks of serve.

Radwanska, seeded ninth, will on Friday face off against Sloane Stephens after the American advanced without hitting a shot when Russian-born Australian Daria Gavrilova had to retire before their quarter-final with an abdominal strain.

Radwanska improved her Eastbourne record to 12-7 as she beat Pironkova for the ninth time in 11 meetings, following up her Nottingham semi-final on grass earlier in June.

While Radwanska wasted no time in advancing on a sunny day at Devonshire Park, it took Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic just under two hours to eliminate the last British challenge of the home week at the pre-Wimbledon preparation event.

The number 31 who played a grass final this month in the Netherlands and lost to Italy’s Camila Giorgi, defeated Australian-born Briton Johanna Konta 2-6 6-0 6-3.

The number 146 Konta came in on a wild card and turned in the best week of her career as she won three consecutive matches. The last to do that here was Jo Durie 32 years ago.

Two of Konta’s wins came over WTA number four Ekaterina Makarova and number 20 Garbine Muguruza of Spain.

Bencic lost the opening set but changed tactics to get back into the contest.

“It was a very difficult match, she’s a good player and really made me work,” said the Swiss, advised by the mother of former Swiss prodigy Martin Hingis. “We had some great rallies.

“I didn’t play badly in the first set, but I missed on some key points,” said Bencic. “In the second and third I played more aggressively and got in more first serves.

“Of course I knew that the crowd was on her side but thanks to the fans who cheered for me. I was fighting on very point.”

Bencic survived six aces from Konta and saved 10 of a dozen break points against her serve.

She will next play either second seed and former champion Caroline Wozniacki or German 10th seed Andrea Petkovic.

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