Siegemund Grateful To Be Back Playing In Front Of Stuttgart Fans

Laura Siegemund (photo: Porsche Tennis Grand Prix)

STUTTGART/WASHINGTON, April 21, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Laura Siegemund is five years removed from winning the 2017 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title in her hometown of Stuttgart. It’s one of two WTA tour-level singles titles she’s won since turning pro in 2002, the other came at Bastad in 2016. Playing in front of fans – as well as friends and family – inside Porsche Arena is always a highlight of her season.

The 231st-ranked German is back this year after recovering from a prolonged knee injury that required surgery and curtailed her 2021 season – and caused her ranking to suffer a big nose dive. The former World No. 27 received a wild card into this year’s 28-player singles draw and is making the most of her sixth main-draw appearance at Porsche Arena. She appreciates being able to play in front of fans again after last year’s tournament was bereft of spectators because of coronavirus protocols.

Following her 6-3, 6-3 first-round victory over No. 27 Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia Wednesday evening, Siegemund improved to 13-4 lifetime on the red clay inside Porsche Arena. Her straight-set triumph was her first WTA main-draw win of the season and first on Tour since last June, when she beat fellow German Tamara Korpatsch on grass at Bad Homburg.

“You just can’t imagine how much this win means to me, even though it’s only the first round,” the 34-year-old Siegemund said during her on-court interview, which she conducted in both German and English. “It means so much to me to be back on court in front of you all again.

“I haven’t played that many singles matches recently so I had no idea of what I was capable of. Then, I realized early on that I was in rhythm. I think I can draw a lot of confidence from today’s victory.”

Earlier in the week, Siegemund sat down to talk with reporters at Porsche Arena. She said her knee feels “far better” this year and so far, it is “standing up well.”

Added Siegemund: “The time off has done a world of good. We’ve done a very good job in rehab. Many people taking a look at me now say they’ve never seen me looking so fit. Nevertheless, it’s a bit different being out on court and then recovering from a three-hour match.”

Siegemund’s success against Zidansek marked her 32nd career Top-50 win and itadvanced the German No. 9 to play against World No. 5 and fourth seed Maria Sakkari of Greece in the second round Thursday evening.

“I’m not putting myself under any pressure,” Siegemund admitted. “Except perhaps after being given a wild card, I want to show I can make something of it. But I have to be realistic because I haven’t played many singles matches recently, and you have to say that the tournament here has one of the world’s best draws.

“The field at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is almost tougher than at a Grand Slam because it’s so small and there’s almost only Top 30 players in the line-up. Therefore, I have to be realistic. I don’t want to just take part; I want to play well here.

“I kind of owe it to the tournament organizers and my family and friends who can pop by and watch me this one time in the year. Hopefully, I can gradually raise my level during the course of the tournament.”

Wednesday evening, Siegemund hit 26 winners, made 18 unforced errors and broke Zidansek’s serve five times in 11 tries. She outpointed her opponent 65-50.

While Siegemund’s singles results have yielded mixed results, she continues to thrive as a doubles player. Most recently, she and Russia’s Vera Zvonareva won the WTA 1000 Miami Open last month on a hard-court surface. They defeated No. 1 seeds Veronika Kudermetova of Russia and Elise Mertens of Belgium, 7-6 (3), 7-5. Earlier this season, they also won a title at Lyon on an indoor hard court. So far, they’ve won an impressive 10 of 11 matches.

“Years ago, I said I’d like to become a doubles specialist at some stage because there’s room for improvement,” said Siegemund, who is ranked 40th in doubles and won the 2020 US Open with Zvonareva. “Though up to now I’ve only played doubles intermittently, I’ve had some good results in the past, including winning a Grand Slam. I’m interested in finding out how things would go if I played doubles full time at all the major and lesser tournaments.

“At the moment I’m in a situation in which I’m coming back from an injury and I’d like to see what my body is capable of in singles. I want to get my singles ranking back up again.”