WTA Charleston: Sloane Stephens Progresses to Final as Angelique Kerber Retires
Kerber retires from the match sending Stephens into the final | Photo: Christopher Levy

Angelique Kerber took on Sloane Stephens for a spot in the Volvo Car Open final. Coming into the match, both women had dropped just one set each. With their head-to-head tied at one apiece, the match was poised to go either woman’s way.

Under the windy conditions, it was Stephens who raced to take the first set with a solid set of tennis against a struggling German. Kerber was looking under the weather and in the end, after playing three games in the second set, the defending champion retired citing a viral illness. Stephens advanced to her third final of the year with a 6-1, 3-0* score line.

Stephens Cruises While Kerber Struggles

Stephens got off to the perfect start, capitalizing on her third chance for an immediate break in the first game. The defending champion was in all sorts of trouble as she found herself down a double break as the American kept the pressure on for 3-0.  Kerber seemed to be struggling and faced break points yet again in the fifth game. This time however, she fended them off to finally get herself on the board, trailing 1-4. Stephens, on the other hand, was holding her games with ease as she cruised to a 5-1 lead. She didn’t have to wait long as she needed just 24 minutes to wrap up the first set 6-1.

Stephens barely put a foot wrong in the first set | Photo: Christopher Levy
Stephens barely put a foot wrong in the first set | Photo: Christopher Levy

It was a clean set of tennis from the American who hit 10 winners and just a couple of unforced errors. Kerber on the other hand fired 10 unforced errors in seven games including seven winners. The German was unable to create any chance for herself either and warning bells were starting to ring.

Kerber Unable to Carry on

Kerber calls for the trainer | Photo: Christopher Levy
Kerber calls for the trainer | Photo: Christopher Levy

After Kerber handed break to Stephens in the second set with a double fault for a 2-0 lead, the defending champion called for the trainer. She had her vital signs checked and after discussions with the trainer and doctor resumed with the match. The American kept up her level as she closed out her game for 3-0. And that was the end for Kerber, who decided she could not go on anymore. Stephens progressed to the final after a 40-minute match where she will meet Elena Vesnina.

Kerber's Illness

At the post match interview, the forlorn defending champion remarked that she was "sad and disappointed."  She further added, "I wasn't 100% today. I will look forward to come back next year."