Top seed Kerkhove to face Friedsam in Shrewsbury final

Top seed Lesley Kerkhove will face Anna-Lena Friedsam, ranked 45 in the world as recently as August 2016, in what promises to be an exciting Aegon GB Pro-Series women’s final at The Shrewsbury Club this afternoon.

Lesley Kerkhove in action at the Shrewsbury Club yesterday. Photo: Richard Dawson Photography
Lesley Kerkhove in action at the Shrewsbury Club yesterday. Photo: Richard Dawson Photography

Dutch ace Kerkhove eased through her semi-final yesterday in straight sets, beating Russian Marina Melnikova.

German star Friedsam was then pushed all the way in her last four tie, showing impressive powers of recovery to hit back from losing the opening set to knock out No 3 seed Kathinka Von Deichmann.

Kerkhove and Friedsam will now meet for the first time on the indoor courts at the Sundorne Road venue at 1.30pm today (Saturday) as the popular $25,000 event, held in association with local company Morris & Co Homes, reaches its conclusion.

Admission will be free for spectators to enjoy what has the makings of an exciting clash from court-side stands.

Kerkhove, currently ranked 156 in the world, needed just 72 minutes to wrap up a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Russian Melnikova.

It maintains Kerkhove’s record of enjoying her visits to Shrewsbury. She reached the semi-finals of the singles event when she last headed to Shropshire in 2015, having 12 months earlier teamed up with fellow Dutch player Richel Hogenkamp to win a Pro-Series doubles title.

“The semis, doubles win and now a final, so every year better,” smiled Kerkhove, 26, who is excited about today given that finals day at The Shrewsbury Club is always a special occasion.

“For a challenger indoor tournament, it’s really nice how they do it, so I’m looking forward to it,” she added.

Kerkhove was pleased with her display in getting the better of Melnikova.

“I served really good the whole match and I played aggressive,” she said. “I know her pretty well and it’s always tough to play against each other, so I’m really happy about the score in the match.

“It’s the end of the year, end of the season, so I’m really happy to be in a final.”

Kerkhove has coped well with any added pressure that may come from being top seed in a tournament.

“I’m not thinking about it too much,” she stressed. “I’m just playing every match by match, and we’ll see how it goes.”

Friedsam, 23, was on court for nearly an hour longer than Kerkhove as she battled her way to a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory against Von Deichmann, from Liechtenstein, a player with a current world ranking of 193.

It was a sixth match in as many days for Friedsam, who had to come through two qualifying rounds to win a place in this week’s main draw as she steps up her comeback from more than a year out through injury.

“It was a really tough match,” said Friedsam. “She started good but from the second set I tried to find my rhythm, tried to find my game and tried to be positive. The third set it was just a fight, it was not really a game, it was a lot of up and downs, but I’m happy that I fight so good.”

Friedsam, who needed treatment from the trainer a number of times during the match, added: “It was my sixth match now, no day off, and I feel my body a little bit. It’s nothing bad, but I feel as though my muscles get tired a little bit, so that’s why the trainer came. I tried to recover more and do some massage, and hopefully I will be back in a good shape tomorrow.”

Now she’s looking forward to lining up in today’s final.

“It’s my first final after my injury and I’m so proud of myself that I play such good tennis now,” she said. “I’ll try to enjoy the atmosphere of my first final and I’ll try to do my best.”

As for the challenge likely to be posed by Kerkhove, Friedsam added: “I know her. We play the same tournaments. She has a good touch for the ball, she doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, so I’ll try to play my game, be aggressive, so let’s see.”