Stuttgart. Tension, emotions, drama, upsets – the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix went full throttle on Tuesday. The almost sell-out 4,200 crowd in the Porsche Arena watched world class tennis and accompanied the players on an emotional roller coaster ride. They were happy for Caroline Garcia who narrowly won the day’s best match and were sad that it was Maria Sharapova of all people that the Frenchwoman beat. Julia Görges, one of the favourites for the tournament win, however fell unexpectedly at the first hurdle whilst Laura Siegemund advanced to the second round on her comeback on the big tennis stage.
The first of the day’s highlights was the meeting between Maria Sharapova and Caroline Garcia. The three-time Stuttgart winner from Russia and the world No. 7 from France served up a thrilling and for long periods high class match that ended in a win for Caroline Garcia. She relinquished the first set 6-3 but then abandoned her respect for her opponent to win the second set and then the third to seal her passage to the next round on her second match point after two hours 44 minutes.
“What a match, unbelievable. I played Maria for the first time as a 17-year old at the French Open. Now at my fifth attempt, I’ve finally beaten her. It’s a dream come true,” said the 24-year old from Lyon who is undoubtedly one of the favourites for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. She continued by saying that she would naturally love to continue playing in the same vein and drive the Porsche back home. There is only one little problem – she does not have a driver’s licence. However, in the hour of her triumph, she simply smiled the problem away saying, “Well, I’ve got a car but no driving licence. It’s better than the other way round.”
In the second round on Thursday, Caroline Garcia will face 15-year old Marta Kostyuk, the youngest player in the tournament. The top talent from the Ukraine overcame the tenacious Antonia Lottner from Porsche Talent Team Germany 6-4, 6-1. Turning her attentions to her next opponent, her eyes lit up. “Sure, I’d have loved to have played Maria but as a Top 10 player, Caroline is also a great challenge.”
Julia Görges surprisingly downed
Marta Kostyuk lives to play another day but Julia Görges’ journey came to an end in the first match of the evening. After enjoying the adulation of the excited crowd after her magnificent win against Karolina Pliskova in the Fed Cup on Sunday and then going on to win the Turkish Airlines Tiebreak on Monday, there was little left in the tank on Tuesday for her match against the Czech qualifier Marketa Vondrousova. The 2011 Stuttgart winner was defeated 6-2, 6-2 but was not going to search for excuses. “I’ve gone through a few days that were high on emotions and I wouldn’t want to miss any of them. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay energised and take it into the match. I’m now just shattered. One of those days. The world won’t come to an end because of it.” Karolina Pliskova, her Fed Cup opponent on Sunday, did better when showing her A game to beat the Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 6-2, 6-2.
Laura Siegemund also progressed comfortably to the second round. The local hero and title-holder, who only recently returned to the WTA Tour after a long injury break, beat the Czech Barbora Strycova in two straight sets 6-4, 6-3. Her next opponent will definitely be an American – either the US Open winner Sloane Stephens or Coco Vandeweghe. After her opening win, Laura Siegemund first of all savoured the moment. “The atmosphere in the Porsche Arena was fantastic once again and you naturally don’t want to disappoint the people,” she said. The Stuttgart resident did not want to look too far into the future: “I now have to try to get more and more feel back. One saw in the last few years what’s then possible.”
Angelique Kerber opens campaign
The two-time Stuttgart winner Angelique Kerber will enter the tournament fray on Wednesday. She will meet the Czech Petra Kvitova against whom she lost in two straight sets in the Fed Cup on Sunday. A lucky loser, Carina Witthöft from Porsche Team Germany will play her first singles in the main draw against the qualifier Zarina Diyas (Kazakhstan). She hopes she will have more success than in the doubles when she and her partner Anna Zaja were downed in the first round.
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