Stuttgart. The 39th Porsche Tennis Grand Prix started the week with great tennis and dazzling entertainment. Porsche Team Germany’s players have arrived in Stuttgart after their Fed Cup win, and Angelique Kerber promptly left everybody in no doubt how she expects her tennis week to go when appearing in the Porsche Arena for the first time this year. “I want to defend my title successfully,” said the Porsche Brand Ambassador. She is the first German Grand Slam winner to play the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and immediately complimented the spectators: “Coming to Stuttgart is like a piece of home.”
The motto of the long-running tournament is “Perfect Match” – and Monday was a perfect day for three German players: Anna-Lena Friedsam from Porsche Talent Team Germany defeated England’s Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-3 in the opening match in the Porsche Arena. “It looked easier than it was,” said the current world No. 52 who reached the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time this year at the Australian Open. “I hoped to have such a good start. Now I want to carry on playing in the same vein and win as many matches as possible.”
It was also a successful day for the two German players in the last round of qualifying. Carina Witthöft from Porsche Team Germany won against the Croatian Ana Konjuh 6-3, 6-4. The German will face the world No. 19 Ana Ivanovic from Serbia, the 2014 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix runner-up, in her first main draw match on Tuesday. “I can go into the match without any pressure, I’ve got nothing to lose,” said Carina Witthöft, who was initially supported within the Porsche Talent Team Germany set-up but who, after consistent performances, was promoted to Porsche Team Germany in January this year. “It however doesn’t mean that I won’t be competing for every point. I can learn a lot in matches against such strong players.”
The eighth German player to book a place in the main draw was the local hero Laura Siegemund who beat the Slovenian Polona Hercog 6-4, 6-3. Only once in the history of the long-established tournament has there been more Germans in the main draw – nine in 1990. However, in the last match of the day, the first of the eight was downed. Sabine Lisicki from Porsche Team Germany lost 7-6, 6-3 to the Hungarian Timea Babos.
One of the many highlights on the opening day of the tournament proper was the duel between the tennis legends Michael Stich and Michael Chang in the Berenberg Classics. Victory - 7-5, 6-4 - in the exhibition match went to the last German Wimbledon men’s singles winner. Michael Stich showed his former fighting qualities, Michael Chang displayed astounding showman qualities in many rallies. Afterwards, the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix players were introduced to the spectators in an impressive ceremony. Beforehand the fans were able to enjoy the day’s exceptional cultural highlight when the world famous Stuttgart Ballet transformed Centre Court into a big stage and abducted the crowd into another world when performing “PS”, a piece choreographed by Katarzyna Kozielska.
Back in this world, the remaining main draw places have been allocated: Louisa Chirico from the USA and Oceane Dodin (France) won their quali finals whilst the Italian lucky loser Camila Giorgi replaced her injured countrywoman Sara Errani.