No.4 seed Angelique Kerber will play for her first title at the Nature Valley International after Ons Jabeur withdrew from their semifinal match with a right ankle injury.
WTA Staff
June 28, 2019

EASTBOURNE, Great Britain - Two-time runner-up Angelique Kerber booked a spot in her third career Nature Valley International on Friday when Ons Jabeur was forced to withdraw prior to their semifinal match with a right ankle injury.

The Tunisian suffered the injury late in the third set of her quarterfinal match against Alizé Cornet, and despite coming through a dramatic comeback victory against the Frenchwoman, proved unable to take the court less than 24 hours later.

Read more: Jabeur overcomes Cornet, injury scare to reach Eastbourne semifinals

"I am disappointed. I wanted to play here and why not get the trophy? But my health didn't allow me to do that," said Jabeur.

"I woke up sore in the morning, a little tough to walk. Then I tried to warm up. Wasn't the best warmup. Tried to tape, run, do a few movements that I do on the court. It was very difficult for me.

"It's a tough decision. I hate to withdraw. I hate to do this kind of stuff, I mean, especially in the semifinal. I hope this is a good thing to start maybe a good Wimbledon. I don't know. I'm just trying to keep very positive here."

Kerber wikk face the winner of the second scheduled semifinal between No.2 seed Karolina Pliskova and No.3 seed Kiki Bertens as she looks to claim her third career title on grass.

"It's for sure not the way I would like to reach the final because to getting another match on my belt before going to Wimbledon, that was the goal," Kerber said. "But of course I hope that she recovers soon and she is ready for Wimbledon. I mean, I hope this.

"For me, now it's okay. I have a day off, I practice a little bit already, and now the focus is for the finals tomorrow. It doesn't matter against who I'm playing. It will be another good final, I think. It will be a good match."

Both the defending Wimbledon champion and Jabeur were placed in this year's main draw at the Championships, which was also revealed on Friday morning.

The German will open her title defense against compatriot Tatjana Maria, and was drawn in a stacked top quarter.

That group also includes World No.1 Ashleigh Barty, five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova, and seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams - the last of which could be a rematch of last year's final in a projected fourth-round match for Kerber.

"It is always tricky to play Germans. I have played so many matches already against German players," Kerber said.

"I think for me it's more like that I have really focusing on me and not thinking that I'm playing against a German, against who I'm playing. It's someone really I know very well.

"It is also a little bit tricky mentally, but I think I have so many experience from all the last years playing against German that the most important thing for me is to finding my rhythm, my game plan, and trying to playing like I played the last matches on grass and trying to continue this in Wimbledon.

"I'm not thinking about fourth round, third rounds or whatever. I mean, everything can happen during such a long tournament. So for me, it's the first round, but right now it's the finals tomorrow."

Jabeur, unseeded even after her Eastbourne exploits, is the first-round opponent for No.6 seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

"I'm doing some scans now. Hopefully I can do better and even better Sunday. We'll see. You know, I'm just gonna take it each day, and we'll see how my ankle will heal," the Tunisian said.

"The only thing is I'm going to keep a good attitude, so maybe it will help me to recover fast. It's such a nice tournament here. First time here. I love it. Unfortunately, it did end like this. Hopefully, I can come back next year and do better.

"I want to thank the crowd, they are here, my team, they were supporting me. Thank you again, Eastbourne, for having me here. Such a nice tournament. Hopefully I can recover very fast and you can come to see me in Wimbledon."