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Halep hits top gear as she makes last eight

By Robert Jones

Simona Halep led a strong day for the top seeds to reach the quarter-finals at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham.

The Romanian, seeded first at the Wimbledon lead-up tournament, brushed aside Klara Koukalova 6-1 6-3 in their third-round match at Edgbaston Priory, proving unerringly consistent with her first serve.

With second seed Ana Ivanovic falling on Wednesday, this was a day that aligned more closely with the form book.

Third seed Carla Suarez Navarro got the better of 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetzova 6-3 6-4, while fourth seed Angelique Kerber beat Jelena Jankovic 6-4 6-2.

Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova pulled double duty, finishing off her win over British wild-card Johanna Konta before beating Zarina Diyas to make the last eight.

Sabine Lisicki, ranked eighth, moved forward at the expense of Magdalena Rybarikova but Barbora Zahlavova Strycova was a casualty. The Czech, who finished runner-up to Ivanovic last year, was seeded 10th this time but fell to Kristina Mladenovic, who also accounted for Eugenie Bouchard in the second round.

Daniela Hantuchova ousted Ivanovic's conqueror, Michelle Larcher de Brito, and Katarina Siniakova saw off Christina McHale.

Former British number one Laura Robson has revealed that she will finally return to action in the Wimbledon warm-up event at Eastbourne after 17 months out with a wrist injury.

Robson had originally planned to make her comeback at last month's French Open, only for a hamstring injury to further delay her return.

Australia-born Robson, who needed surgery on her left wrist in April last year, has not played since a first round defeat at the Australian Open in January 2014.

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