Stuttgart. Laura Siegemund has done it again. Like in 2016, the local hero will once again contest the final of the 40th Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Her semi-final win against the Romanian Simona Halep means she will now face Kristina Mladenovic on Sunday. The Frenchwoman defeated Maria Sharapova in a high-class three-setter to end the world star’s impressive comeback. With a capacity 4,600 crowd watching on, the Porsche Arena was filled to the rafters for the semi-finals.
Kristina Mladenovic has already amassed 21 wins on the WTA Tour this year and also won her very first career tournament in St. Petersburg in February. In Stuttgart, she is one step away from her biggest success. In the penultimate round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, last year’s doubles winner downed Maria Sharapova 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in a match that lasted two hours 38 minutes. It meant that the Russian’s impressive winning run upon her return to competitive tennis in the Porsche Arena was over.
The semi-final was a real treat for the tennis fans. Spectacular rallies, no quarter given or taken – world class tennis of the highest order. After it looked as if the match was heading for an easy win for the three-time tournament winner Maria Sharapova, the Frenchwoman, a Dubai resident, forced her way back into the match after quickly losing the first set. “It was only little things that decided the match,” she said. “Maria played great tennis but I was a little more consistent on the important shots.” She quickly went 5-2 ahead in the third before Maria Sharapova clawed her way back. But in the end it was not enough. “I couldn’t keep the pressure up on her long enough,” said the Russian who was nevertheless “very satisfied” with her days in Stuttgart and the return to the Tour after a 15-month break.
“My returns decided the match,” said Kristina Mladenovic who will move up to No. 19 in the world rankings after reaching the final. She could go as high as 16 should she win on Sunday. The 23-year old, who is supported in the Porsche Arena by her parents, smiled when she admitted that she had glanced over every now and again to the Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet for the winner. And said, “I know a few roads in Dubai where you can have fun in a Porsche.”
But beforehand she can, she will have to win the final on Sunday – and beat the crowd favourite Laura Siegemund. The 29-year old Stuttgarter once again showed that she is a force to be reckoned with on her home patch. One year ago, she stormed all the way from qualifying to the final. Pumped up by her fighting spirit and the crowd’s ecstatic support, she again powered her way to the match that will decide the destiny of the winner’s car with a victory over Simona Halep, the world No. 5. She impressed throughout with her aggressive game and quick and unflagging legs that have been put to the test in some very long matches this week. Her quarterfinal against Karolina Pliskova was even the longest match – 3 hrs 9 mins – of the of the tournament. Today’s semi-final against the Romanian lasted 1 hour 43 minutes.
“I had to do a lot of running and am glad I won in two sets,” she said. Sunday will show whether she has sufficient strength to crown the performance with the tournament win. One year ago, Angelique Kerber was too good for her. “Kristina also plays fantastic tennis,” she said, “I’ll have to give my all to have a chance.”
The opening match on Sunday will see Raquel Atawo (USA) and Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) take on Abigail Spears (USA) and Katarina Srebotnik (SLO) in the doubles final.
Images and videos of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in the Porsche Newsroom (http://newsroom.porsche.com) and for journalists in the Porsche press database (https://presse.porsche.de)
Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet: fuel consumption combined: 9.4 – 8.4 l/100 km; CO2 emissions: 214-190 g/km.