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Kerber, Pliskova to face off in final

The Associated Press

Karolina Pliskova hits a return to Kiki Bertens on Day 6 of the Eastbourne Open on Friday.

The Associated PressEASTBOURNE, England (AP) — Reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber will face Karolina Pliskova for the Eastbourne title after semifinal opponent Ons Jabeur withdrew with a right ankle injury on Friday.

Jabeur rolled the ankle on Thursday in the quarterfinals and couldn’t recover in time for her second career semifinal.

Chasing her first title since she beat Serena Williams in last year’s Wimbledon final, Kerber will play in the Eastbourne final for the third time after losing in 2012 and 2014.

The second-seeded Pliskova didn’t face a single break point in beating Kiki Bertens 6-1, 6-2. For Pliskova, it was her third consecutive match dropping three games or fewer.

“I’m just pleased that I made it,” Pliskova said. “I didn’t spend too much energy and too much time on court.”

Bertens stumbled and hit her head on the court at 1-0 in the second set and went on to lose the next five games.

Pliskova beat Caroline Wozniacki to win the Eastbourne title in 2017 after losing to Dominika Cibulkova the year before.

Kerber has a 7-4 record against Pliskova and won their only previous meeting on grass in Birmingham in 2015. Pliskova is 2-1 in finals this season and won the Italian Open last month.

Kerber will start her Wimbledon title defense against Tatjana Maria and is in the same quarter of the draw as Williams and French Open champion Ash Barty.

There’s an all-American final in the men’s draw as Taylor Fritz plays Sam Querrey. Both are unseeded. Fritz upset third-seeded Kyle Edmund 7-6 (10-8), 6-3, while Querrey downed Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3.

Big Wimbledon semi clash possible

WIMBLEDON (AP) — Within the first minute of the Wimbledon draw ceremony Friday there arrived a bit of information many were wondering about: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were indeed set up for a potential semifinal meeting, with Novak Djokovic possibly awaiting that showdown’s winner in the final.

Toward the end of the proceedings came the most fascinating first-round matchup of all: 39-year-old Venus Williams, a five-time champion at the All England Club, against 15-year-old American Cori Coco Gauff, the youngest player to qualify at the All England Club in the half-century Open era.

In between, there were plenty of other things to keep an eye out for once the grass-court Grand Slam tournament begins Monday, including the placement of Venus’ younger sister, Serena, in what shapes up as by far the toughest quarter of the women’s field. She might need to beat defending champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth round, then No. 1 Ash Barty in the quarterfinals.

Gauff grew up idolizing the Williams sisters, who have both been ranked No. 1 and own a combined 30 Grand Slam singles titles.

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