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Stuttgart: The Opening Ceremony

Stuttgart: The Opening Ceremony

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970
The WTA’s brightest stars glammed up for the opening ceremony of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, including Germany’s Andrea Petkovic…

The WTA’s brightest stars glammed up for the opening ceremony of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, including Germany’s Andrea Petkovic…

…and Czech Republic’s Kristyna Pliskova.

…and Czech Republic’s Kristyna Pliskova.

Caroline Garcia, Agnieszka Radwanska and Andrea Petkovic hit the red carpet for some photos…

Caroline Garcia, Agnieszka Radwanska and Andrea Petkovic hit the red carpet for some photos…

…along with Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber, Kristyna Pliskova…

…along with Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber, Kristyna Pliskova…

…Simona Halep, Kristina Mladenovic, Lucie Safarova, and more.

…Simona Halep, Kristina Mladenovic, Lucie Safarova, and more.

Defending champion Angelique Kerber joined tennis legends Michael Chang and Michael Stich and professional racing driver Mark Webber for a doubles duel.

Defending champion Angelique Kerber joined tennis legends Michael Chang and Michael Stich and professional racing driver Mark Webber for a doubles duel.

Afterwards, the players of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix – including Agnieszka Radwanska – were introduced to the spectators.

Afterwards, the players of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix – including Agnieszka Radwanska – were introduced to the spectators.

Simona Halep walked on with a bouquet of flowers…

Simona Halep walked on with a bouquet of flowers…

… while Carina Witthoeft had a bit of a challenge getting her walk-on mascot to come along with her.

… while Carina Witthoeft had a bit of a challenge getting her walk-on mascot to come along with her.

Kerber – Germany’s No.1 and Stuttgart’s No.2 seed – answered some questions for the crowd.

Kerber – Germany’s No.1 and Stuttgart’s No.2 seed – answered some questions for the crowd.

All of the players – along with their young mascots – were presented to the Stuttgart audience.

All of the players – along with their young mascots – were presented to the Stuttgart audience.

Ana Ivanovic is looking to do one better than her runner-up spot here in 2014…

Ana Ivanovic is looking to do one better than her runner-up spot here in 2014…

… while No.5 seed Petra Kvitova is looking to put two second-round Stuttgart exits behind her.

… while No.5 seed Petra Kvitova is looking to put two second-round Stuttgart exits behind her.

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Ivanovic Eases Past Witthoeft

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

STUTTGART, Germany – Former No.1 Ana Ivanovic recovered from an early deficit to dismantle talented youngster Carina Witthoeft, roaring into the second round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix with a 7-6(3), 6-0 victory.

Watch live action from Stuttgart & Istanbul this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

“She played really well, deep, heavy; she was not missing,” Ivanovic said of her opponent after the match. “So, I started a little bit to find my rhythm, but I was always a step too far in.

“Then when my coach came on court, he actually asked me to step in a little more and be more aggressive. I felt that made the difference and once I was aggressive, she started to aim for more and also I could get more free points.

“So, I think that was the key.”

The 2014 finalist fell behind 5-3 in the opening set to the hometown favorite – who had already won two matches in qualifiying to make her second main draw appearance in Stuttgart – but successfully broke serve in the tenth game to level the affair, ultimately running away with the match in the second set.

“I’ve been practicing really hard the last couple of weeks,” she said after the match. “I’ve been putting in a lot of work, a lot of hours on court and in the gym. So, it’s nice to see. That actually helped me to go through today. Also my serve is improving.

“Overall, I’m just so happy to actually be healthy and consistent. Hopefully, I can keep the level and raise it.”

Finishing the match with a positive winner-to-unforced error differential (32 to 28), Ivanovic acquitted herself well in her first clay court match of the season and sets herself up in good stead for her second round encounter against either Karolina Pliskova or No.8 seed Lucie Safarova.

“I feel like I built that relationship throughout the tournament in 2014. I really had a great week here and getting very interactive also with the people. It is a very warm court to play on. And I feel like since then it has even better than before. So, I was very happy to have a victory today in front of the crowd.”

The last match of the day was between No.7 seed Carla Suárez Navarro, who won the last 11 games of her match against Oceane Dodin to join Ivanovic in the second round, 6-3, 6-0. Dodin came out firing after qualifying for the main draw, but Suárez Navarro proved the steadier overall, easing past her opponent in just over an hour – hittin 17 winners and only 11 unforced errors.

Up next for the Spanish veteran is Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam, who dispatched Johanna Konta in straight sets on Monday.

In doubles, No.2 seeds Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic overcame an inspired Laura Siegemund partnered with Johanna Konta to repeat their Fed Cup heroics, 3-6, 6-3, 10-7. Top seeds Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza play their first round match against Eri Hozumi and Miyu Kato on Wednesday.

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Kerber Battles Into Stuttgart Quarters

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

STUTTGART, Germany – Defending Stuttgart champion Angelique Kerber survived an inspired start from qualifier Annika Beck in her opening match at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix to make her way into the quarterfinals in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 comeback.

Watch live action from Stuttgart & Istanbul this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

The pair of Germans previously met at this year’s Australian Open, when Kerber beat Beck in straightforward fashion: 6-4, 6-0 in the fourth round on her way to the title. But the two go back even further as members of the German Fed Cup team.

“It is always difficult to play against a German, of course, and especially in my first match here,” Kerber said of the matchup.

This time, the defending Stuttgart champion faced a gutsier performance from the young German, who was into the second round here for the first time.

The qualifier came out swinging in the opening set, playing aggressively and keeping Kerber on her toes by doggedly running down every shot. She dictated play with her serve, too, winning 82% of points from her first serve against Kerber’s 61%. Kerber found herself in danger, dropping the first set after 46 minutes.

Dropping the first set only served to galvanize the defending champion, who raised her level and aggression in the next set.

“I tried to dictate the game more. I tried simply to seize the opportunity and go, which is not so easy,” Kerber said. “It’s always easier to say rather than to do because Annika gets the ball back so often and makes few mistakes. But I tried to just stay in the match and play point by point at the end.”

After trading breaks of serve, Kerber shook off a break point in order to notch the only hold of the second set. That lead would prove to be key, and Kerber came roaring back to level the score. It was one-way traffic from there, Kerber finding her range and hitting 46 winners to 31 unforced errors to Beck’s 26 and 18.

“The faith is definitely always there, whether I win or lose the first set,” Kerber said. “I know that I am fighting to the end and I know what to do in the important moments.

“I have in recent weeks and months proved myself and thus I have the confidence to really take the initiative. I think, at the moment, that’s my strength, to know what I can trust myself.”

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Sania Mirza Makes The Time 100 List

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

On Thursday Time Magazine released the Time 100, its annual list of 100 most influential people in the world. Among global leaders and icons like the IMF’s Christine Lagarde, Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio, and more, is doubles co-No.1 Sania Mirza.

Mirza, the only tennis player on the list, made history in 2015 when she became the first Indian woman to achieve a No.1 ranking in tennis, win a Grand Slam and claim a second WTA Finals title. With her massively successful doubles partnership with Martina Hingis, she has not just produced spectacular tennis, she’s inspired a generation of Indians.

Her Time 100 tribute written by Sachin Tendulkar, one of the greatest cricketers of all time:

“The Mirzas probably knew what the future held for their daughter,” Tendulkar wrote. “Her name, Sania, means brilliant.”

Click here to read the full tribute and view the complete Time Magazine’s Time 100 list.

 

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Insider Notebook: Clay Court Shuffle

Insider Notebook: Clay Court Shuffle

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

Slippery Little Suckers: How is the Stuttgart court playing? It’s been described as slippery by a number of players, who have said they’re trying to treat it like a hard court and slide into the corners. Once you slide, you can’t stop.

The Curious Case of Aga on Clay: The Pole admits her struggles on clay are confounding, especially given the fact she grew up on the surface. Radwanska’s variety and court craft seem an excellent fit for clay but over time it’s become clear that she is at her best on faster courts. Radwanska says it’s just how her game has evolved given the prevelance of hard courts in today’s game.

“And I think every year it’s getting harder and harder,” Radwanska said in Stuttgart. “I also played so many years on clay. I grew up on clay, I played so many tournaments on clay and the when I started playing on the Tour everything changed. Everything is on hard court and I got so used to hard court. You know, now it’s so hard to play on clay again, especially because the clay court season is so short.”

When Head-to-Heads get mental: Ana Ivanovic fell once again to Karolina Pliskova, this time a 6-4, 6-2 loss in their first meeting on clay. Pliskova is now 5-0 against Ivanovic and the Serb has only been able to get one set off the Czech. Ivanovic says given her track record, she’s tempted to try and change her game against the flat-hitting Pliskova, but then she gives up on her strengths.

“That’s what I get caught up in because I feel like I should change something and I don’t know what,” Ivanovic said. “I tried to change the position on my standings, you know I wanted to play a little more slice, to move around but it’s hard because her balls are coming deep and strong and then I didn’t really get a chance to do that and whenever I threw in the high ball, I felt she handled it really well and she was not making too many errors.

“I thought on clay it would be a little bit different match. But it was still tough.”

Andrea Petkovic

Andrea Petkovic confident after Stuttgart fall: The German looks on her way out of her slump after scoring a tough three set win at Fed Cup, opening with a clean win over Kristina Mladenovic in Stuttgart, and then playing her best set of tennis a very long time by taking the opener 6-1 over Agnieszka Radwanska on Thursday. But Petkovic was never the same after taking a bad fall early in the second set and lost, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2.

“I felt like a lot of things were coming together and after the fall, it was so annoying because nothing really happened,” Petkovic said. “It’s just that my back shifted a little bit and I felt very unsafe on my legs. It wasn’t that I had any pain or something but I was just more cautious in moving around and going into the corner. You know it’s helpful to move well against Aga Radwanska.

“So, yes, I’m just very annoyed right now. Luckily, I’m frustrated so I’m speaking very negatively, but I’m actually happy that nothing worse happened because I slipped on the line things could have gotten much worse. So, everything is okay but I’m still annoyed.”

Petra Kvitova’s Gamble Pays Off: Kvitova has never met a Fed Cup tie she didn’t want to play. So her decision to rule herself out of the Czech Republic’s semifinal tie against Switzerland last weekend was a surprising one. Kvitova was fully fit but opted out in order to focus on her preparation for the clay court swing.

So far so good. She double-bageled Louisa Chirico to start her tournament in Stuttgart and gutted out a win over Monica Niculescu, saving three match points to win 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 to make the quarterfinals.

Not that she’s not already dreaming of grass court season:

Slicing and Dicing with Monica Niculescu: A lovely profile of the one-of-a-kind Romanian here.

During her career, the two-time WTA title-winner has enjoyed a lot of her success in Asia, particularly China. Niculescu announced herself massively on the tennis stage with a giant-killing run after qualifying for the 2011 Beijing Open, taking out Li Na along the way. It seems only right that one of her two titles came in China – namely at the WTA International event in Guangzhou.

“The people love me there. I don’t want to be…not modest,” Niculescu laughed. “The people like me, they like my slice forehand and I feel so welcome there every time. I remember when I won Guangzhou – they actually put a song [together] for me. I didn’t understand what they were saying because it was Chinese but then I heard ‘Monica! Monica!’ so it was my name [in the song]! I feel very good there, they love my slice!”

Louisa Chirico Stepping Up: The young American has scored wins over Lucie Safarova, Naomi Osaka, Camila Giorgi, and Daniela Hantuchova on clay over the last three weeks. Good profile from her via The Tennis Island.

Tournament Moves: As confirmed on the WTA Insider Podcast last week, the Katowice Open will move to Biel, Switzerland in 2017. The Kaohsiung Open will be moving to Taipei.

Maria Sharapova update: ITF President David Haggerty told the AP a decision could come down before Wimbledon.

Simona Halep

Simona Halep’s Tough Recovery: A semifinalist last year, Halep bowed out of Stuttgart in her opening match, losing, 6-1, 6-2 to German qualifier Laura Siegemund. Halep struggled with her breathing during the match and chalked it up to her poor recovery from a heavy Fed Cup weekend. Halep’s coach Darren Cahill was not with her in Stuttgart but the pair will reunite next week in preparation for Madrid.

Caroline Wozniacki Battling Injury: Wozniacki has already withdrawn from both the Mutua Madrid Open and Internazionali BNL d’Italia due to the ankle injury she sustained during practice a week before Fed Cup. Can she get herself fit for the French Open?

Samantha Stosur and David Taylor to split: As reported by Australian media, Stosur and Taylor have agreed to part ways after the French Open.

Petra Kvitova hires Frantisek Cermak: Coachless no more. Kvitova has hired former ATP doubles specialist Frantisek Cermak as her new coach.

Jarmila Wolfe undergoes surgery: The Australian underwent shoulder surgery in Texas this week.

Coping with Petko: Petkovic told reporters she’s currently reading Buddenbrooks, a 1901 German novel by Thomas Mann. She then went into her heady coping mechanism after losses:

QUESTION: It’s better than the sad French films when you lose on grass?

PETKOVIC: But come on, they are really good (laughs). When I lost in Australia I watched Souffle d’Amour or something.

QUESTION: Cheerful?

PETKOVIC: (laughs). Yes that was very cheerful. I really like to self-destruct. It’s one of my hidden talents.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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Kerber First Into Stuttgart Semifinals

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

STUTTGART, Germany – Angelique Kerber continued the defense of her Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title with a straight set victory over Carla Suárez Navarro in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Watch live action from Stuttgart & Istanbul this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

Since lifting her maiden major at this January’s Australian Open, Kerber has taken some time to get used to life with a target on her back. But following a couple of early exits, the German appears to have found her stride on clay, all the more impressive given the difficulty several of her peers have encountered at the Porsche Arena.

Against Suárez Navarro, one of the game’s most surefooted clay courters, she was particularly impressive, flying out of the traps, then overcoming a late wobble to close out a 6-2, 6-4 victory.

“I think it was a good match from me, a good performance,” Kerber said. “I know how Carla is playing and she is one of the best players on clay. I was trying to go for it, trying to play aggressive tennis. I knew this is the only way to beat her today and I think I did a great job.”

Although Kerber held the edge in previous matches with the Spaniard, she had lost their only tussle on the dirt. This came two years in Stuttgart and provided a source of inspiration during the rematch: “I knew that she beat me here two, three years ago. So, I was trying to take revenge! And I think it was a good match today.”

Taking the initiative from the off, a smart volley and a trademark passing shot saw Kerber break immediately for a 2-0 lead. She bookended the set with a second break, then took total control of the match with a rasping forehand drive to open up a 4-2 lead in the second.

The procession was momentarily halted when the Spaniard broke back in the ninth game, only for Kerber to batten down the hatches once more to wrap up victory the following game.

“But at the end of the second set it was still close and I know that against her I must play until the last ball because she is always tough and she’s fighting as well. So, I went out trying to take my revenge and play good tennis and beat her here,” Kerber added.

In the last four Kerber faces Petra Kvitova, who won a see-saw encounter with Garbiñe Muguruza, 6-1, 3-6, 6-0.

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Kerber Conquers Siegemund In Stuttgart

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

STUTTGART, Germany – Reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber won her second title of the season at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, dispatching qualifier and countrywoman Laura Siegemund, the tournament’s Cinderella story, 6-4, 6-0.

Watch live action from Stuttgart & Istanbul this week on WTA Live powered by TennisTV!

Siegemund had played inspired tennis throughout the week, taking out three Top 10 players – including top seed and World No.2 Angieszka Radwanska – and showed few signs of stopping from the outset of Sunday’s final, twice moving ahead by a break in the opening set.

But Kerber has only lost one completed match since Indian Wells (Miami Open, Azarenka) and continued to press her opponent, who was playing in her first WTA singles final, into increasingly more grueling rallies – exposing her fatigue from eight matches in nine days and a left hip issue for which she took a medical timeout early in the second set.

Though Siegemund finished the match with more winners (22 to 16), Kerber played her counterpunching style to perfection, hitting just nine unforced errors in 80 minutes to win the final 10 games of the match.

It was nonetheless a stellar week for the 28-year-old veteran, who will bound up nearly 30 spots to a career-high ranking of No.42; more importantly, she leapfrogs four of her compatriots to become the No.4 German woman on the WTA rankings – putting her in pole position to round out the national team who can be sent to the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Kerber remains at No.3, but her title in Stuttgart was not only her first career title defense, but the win makes her the fastest player to back up a maiden Grand Slam title since Petra Kvitova, who won the Generali Ladies Linz three months after capturing her first Wimbledon title in 2011.

The doubles final took place less than an hour later, featuring Top 2 seeds, Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza against Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic.

More to come…

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USANA & The WTA's Stuttgart Aces

USANA & The WTA's Stuttgart Aces

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

The 2016 Aces For Humanity campaign was launched by USANA and the WTA at the BNP Paribas Open and continued in Stuttgart at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, where every ace hit by a WTA player at Premier-level events translates into a donation to the USANA True Health Foundation, whose mission is to provide the most critical human necessities to those who are suffering or in need around the world. For every ace hit by any player the WTA donates $5, and for every ace hit by a USANA Brand Ambassador, it’s $10.

USANA Brand Ambassadors Eugenie Bouchard, Samantha Stosur, Kristina Mladenovic, Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Monica Puig, and Zheng Saisai.

Read more about the campaign here and see below to find out who’s hit the most aces so far!

2016 AcesForHumanity Stuttgart


#AcesForHumanity Fan Giveaway

It’s simple: before each WTA Premier tournament guess how many total aces will be hit.
Next up is the Mutua Madrid Open in Madrid. Last year there was a total of 400 aces hit. It’s now your turn, take your best guess of how many will be hit this year.

How To Enter:
• Follow @WTA and @USANAFoundation on Twitter and before each WTA Premier tournament tweet the number of aces you predict will be hit during the whole tournament (Singles, Main Draw)
• Include the hashtag #AcesForHumanity
• Madrid deadline is May 1st at 11:59pm ET
• The winner will be announced May 9th
Aces For Humanity is a joint WTA and USANA initiative that benefits the USANA True Health Foundation, which provides critical human necessities to those in suffering or in need around the globe.

For full rules on how to enter, click here.

 

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