Stephens advances to final; Kerber retires with illness

Stephens advances to final; Kerber retires with illness (46).JPG

The Season of Sloane continued Saturday afternoon on Daniel Island at the Volvo Car Open. Sloane Stephens advanced to her first Charleston final after defeating Angelique Kerber.

Kerber retired in the second set, after losing the first set 6-1 and a timeout to see the trainer.

Officials at the tournament said Kerber was battling a viral illness and that forced her to retired the match. She had looked sluggish through the first half of the match, clearly not playing like she had earlier in the week.

With trainers, Kerber was given a battery of courtside medical tests before going back onto the court for a final point.

She retired the match down 3-0 to Stephens and walked off the court in tears, her hopes of repeating as Volvo Car Open champion dashed. Kerber said after the match she felt ill this morning but thought it was something she could play through.

"I felt a little bit like something was wrong, but I was thinking that when I'm going on court the energy will come back and I will feel okay," she said. "And it starts in the first few games in the first set that I was feeling that, yeah, something is not good."

The two players hugged at center court and Stephens wished Kerber a quick recovery.

Stephens advances to the final, taking on Elena Vesnina who beat Sara Errani in the second semifinal matchup.

After the match, Stephens said this is a big moment in her career and her history with Charleston.

"I've never played on Sunday here; it's exciting, it's nice, it's nice to be in another final this year and it's nice to be playing well on clay. So it's a good start for me, I think," she said.

Stephens said she did not know Kerber was not feeling well when they started the match. She was expecting a tough fight on stadium court, but Kerber was sick.

"I mean, it's understandable. It happens. I wish her well. I hope she gets better soon because I know they have Fed Cup coming up next week," Stephens said.

When asked about the change this year in Charleston and how she's put together a series of wins that lead up to the final, Stephens say it's a different mindset that's working.

"I think I just came in thinking, 'I love this tournament; I have nothing to lose, and I always play like garbage here. I need to just figure it out. So this year I decided I was going to come out and do the best I possibly could," she said.