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BIRMINGHAM, England – Angelique Kerber became another in a sequence of leading players to have their Wimbledon preparations cut short when she lost her title in a dramatic quarter-final defeat in the Aegon Classic.
The second-seeded German was beaten 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 by Carla Suarez Navarro, the world number 16 from Spain, despite a fine fightback in which Kerber appeared to have regained the momentum during a final set in which she was three times within two points of victory.
Navarro however appeared to last a physically very tough match the better after a schedule in which both players had to complete second round matches earlier in the day.
"I had to fight and play my best to beat the best player," Navarro said, even though Kerber has often found it had to rediscover her best after her sensational Grand Slam triumph in Australia at the start of the year.
Here today she was at least much nearer her tenacious, intelligent and athletic best. "I didn't defend my title but I have played well," Kerber said, though she looked very disappointed by her loss.
"She (Navarro) started very good but I came back well and it will give me confidence going into Wimbledon (in 10 days)."
That may not be the case for Agnieszka Radwanska, the top-seeded Pole, or Petra Kvitova, the two times Wimbledon champion, or Belinda Bencic, the 19-year-old who is the youngest in the world's top ten, who were among six seeds who failed to reach the quarter-finals amidst continuously disruptive rainstorms.
Navarro tomorrow plays the only remaining seed, Madison Keys, the top 20 American who recovered from a wayward start to overcome Jelena Ostapenko, Kvitova's conqueror, by 6-7(1-7), 6-4, 6-2.
The other semi-final will be between CoCo Vandeweghe, the American who ousted Radwanska in the first round, and Barbora Strycova, the Czech who is a former finalist here.