Stuttgart. “Go for it!” – the 38th edition of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix was officially opened with gloss and glamour on Monday. Afterwards in the first main draw singles match the day was brought to an end by an exciting all-German encounter between Carina Witthöft from Porsche Talent Team Germany and Mona Barthel from Porsche Team Germany. Playing impressively, Carina Witthöft overcame her compatriot 7-5, 6-3 to reach the second round where she could well meet last year’s runner-up Ana Ivanovic (Serbia).
“I was a little nervous at the start. Mona was the favourite but I’m now so totally happy and am looking forward to the next match,” said the 20-year old who sensationally reached the third round of the Australian Open in January. “Since then I’m more in the limelight and am under more pressure but I think I’m dealing with it quite well.”
An artistic highlight in front of a capacity crowd in the Porsche Arena was provided at the start of the opening ceremony by the world famous Stuttgarter Ballet which performed the specially choreographed piece “MatchBox” on Centre Court. Prior to the atmospheric presentation of the main draw players who were led on court by a youngster from their respective fan club, tennis legends Andre Agassi and Thomas Muster thrilled the audience with spec-tacular tennis in the Berenberg Classics. The win (6-2, 6-2) in the exhibition match went to Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf’s husband, which came as no surprise to Thomas Muster: “If I had such a wife then I’d be in better shape too.”
The qualifying tournament had already finished before the start of the official opening. After three rounds of competition, main draw berths were secured by four players: Bethanie Mat-tek-Sands (USA), who back in 2013 progressed all the way to the semifinals after first qualifying, plus Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko, Petra Martic (Croatia) and the Russian Evgeniya Rodina.
Three players were forced to withdraw from the long-running Stuttgart tournament at the last moment on Monday after picking up injuries. Particularly bitter for the fans in the Porsche Arena was Andrea Petkovic’s withdrawal. The Porsche Team Germany player suffered a thigh injury over the weekend in the Fed Cup semifinal in Sochi which, despite intensive treatment, has prevented her from appearing at her favourite tournament. She however was not going to miss out on travelling to Stuttgart and personally explain to the fans the reason why she is unable to play. “I have no words for how disappointed I am,” said the current world No. 11.” But the risk involved in playing with the injury is simply too big. Now I hope my friend Angie Kerber will win the tournament. She’s in great form.”
In addition to Andrea Petkovic, Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova – due to adductor problems – and the Serb Jelena Jankovic – due to a foot injury – are also unable to compete at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. They have been replaced in the main draw by lucky losers Marina Melnikova (Russia), Yuliya Beygelzimer (Ukraine) and the Italian Alberta Brianti.
Please note: the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Porsche Team Germany and Porsche Talent Team Germany photo libraries, a part of the Porsche Press Data Bank, is available to all accredited journalists at the internet address http://presse.porsche.de. Further contents can be found at www.newsroom.porsche.com, the new Porsche Communication service for journalists, blogger and online Multipliers.