Porsche Team Germany’s Jule Niemeier plays impressively despite losing against the Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.
The Australian Open winner and last year’s runner-up Aryna Sabalenka is the first player to advance to the second round.
Ons Jabeur, Coco Gauff and Karolina Pliskova win their opening matches.
The world No. 1 and title-holder Iga Swiatek starts her tournament campaign on Thursday.
Despite an impressive performance, the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix has come to an end for Jule Niemeier in the first round. The Porsche Team Germany player exited against the Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina. The favourites also came through in the other matches.
Spectacular rallies, enthralled spectators and five Top 10 players – the fifth day of the 46th Porsche Tennis Grand Prix had a lot to offer. Jule Niemeier had a major role in everything. In her first round match against Elena Rybakina, the Porsche Team Germany pulled off a hot shot through her legs in the well-filled Porsche Arena when 2-1 up in the second set. It brought rapturous applause. “An incredible way to win a point,” lauded her opponent from Kazakhstan. The sensational rally however had no effect on the result. The 2022 Wimbledon champion and Australian Open runner-up, the pre-match favourite, ran out a straight sets 7-5, 6-3 winner to progress to the round of the last 16.
“I came up with two very good matches against top class players here in Stuttgart. I’ll definitely take away lots of positives and even more confidence to the Madrid tournament,” said a highly satisfied Jule Niemeier. Elena Rybakina, who triumphed in Indian Wells, was also happy with her performance: “The match was exhausting. But every match I manage to play here will help me to get more and more used to clay.” The world No. 7 will have another chance on Thursday when she will face Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in the day’s last encounter.
The Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka underlined her ambitions when qualifying as the first player for the quarterfinals by beating the Czech Barbora Krejcikova, the 2021 French Open winner, 6-2, 6-3. “The win gives me lots of confidence as the duels with Barbora in the past were always very tight,” said the world No 2 and 2022 runner-up. “The Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is the perfect preparation for all the big tournaments. Where otherwise do you have to play a Grand Slam winner in the first round?” Ons Jabeur and Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia) then went head-to-toe in the last match of the day. The favourite from Tunisia eventually won the three-setter 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 to book, like Sabalenka before, a ticket for the last eight.
In the first encounter of the day, Karolina Pliskova cruised past Maria Sakkari, the No. 8 seed from Greece. The 2018 Stuttgart winner needed just 71 minutes for her straight sets 6-2, 6-3 win. “It was a strong start to the tournament, I felt really good. If I play aggressively and my serve is consistent then I am in with a good chance in every match,” said the pleased Czech whose next opponent will be Donna Vekic from Croatia at mid-day on Thursday. “I know Donna very well. It doesn’t however make things any easier. She serves well and has a great forehand. I hope I can rely on my serve again.”
Immediately afterwards, the 19-year-old Coco Gauff, the youngest player in the long-standing Stuttgart tournament, had to go the distance in her opening encounter against Veronika Kudermetova. She only clinched the match in a third set tie-break – 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (4). “I knew it was going to be a tough match after only reverting to clay courts from hard this week,” said the American. “My aim was to play aggressively all the way through. Nice it came off in the end.” The world No. 6 will be up against Anastasia Potapova on Thursday.
In the doubles on Mittwoch, Anna-Lena Friedsam from Porsche Team Germany and her partner Mona Barthel were in action. The German pairing went down 6-3, 6-4 to Gabriela Dabrowski (Canada) and Luisa Stefani (Brazil).
Last year’s winner Iga Swiatek begins title defence
The Porsche Arena crowd can look forward to other highlights on Thursday. In the third match of the day the world No. 1 Iga Swiatek will enter the tournament fray. Last year’s winner, who recently had to pull out of the WTA tournament in Miami, will play the Chinese Qinwen Zheng for a place in the quarterfinals. “Of course I would like to defend my title at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. The little break did me good, I feel fit and my injury has healed up. I’m ready for the tournament,” said the Pole. “The past matches against Qinwen were pretty tough. I’m not going to take anything for granted. It’s not something you can with any opponent in this excellent field here in Stuttgart.”
Also on Thursday, Porsche Team Germany’s Tatjana Maria will face one of the tournament favourites, the No. 4 seeded Caroline Garcia from France. The 2022 Wimbledon semifinalist defeated the Swiss Ylena In-Albon in a two hours 45 minute marathon match on Tuesday to register her first ever main draw win at her home tournament where there is a Porsche Taycan Turbo S Sport Turismo as the main prize. “I’m so happy to have another chance to play here at home in front of my family,” said the 35-year-old mother of two from nearby Bad Saulgau. “Caroline is in good form at the moment and is the world No. 5 for good reason. I’m sure the match will be just as good.”
The fact that Paula Badosa has to play her Spanish countrywoman and qualifier Cristina Bucsa on an outside court once again underlines how good the long-established Stuttgart tournament is once again this year.
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