By Ros Satar, in Stuttgart
- Laura Siegemund [WC] def. Kristina Mladenovic 6-1 2-6 7-6(5)
STUTTGART, GERMANY – Laura Siegemund emerged the winner of a frantic week in Stuttgart with an edgy win over Kristina Mladenovic in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
Laura Siegemund [WC] def. Kristina Mladenovic 6-1 2-6 7-6(5)
Well, you could not argue that the tournament got a former finalist wildcard into the final, and more importantly into the Porsche. It was probably just not the wildcard that everyone thought it would be. This high quality but small tournament which often boasts many of the World Top 10 year in, year out played host to a media circus for much of the week. But when push came to shove, it was tennis that won in the end.
Much as the German had with Simona Halep, she aggressively battered away at Mladenovic not giving her any chance to get into any rhythm or more importantly keeping her on the back foot and not letting her unleash her own aggressive game. It was worse for the Frenchwoman, who had really shown how she could mix things up and show a lot of variety when she played Carla Suárez Navarro.
Unsurprisingly after a pep-talk with her mother, something at last seemed to click for Mladenovic, as she found the capacity to hold her serve. It seemed like just as last year, Siegemund was feeling the pressure a little more, losing her serve twice to give Mladenovic a life-line.
The feisty German revived her game at the start of the decider – coming out with the same aggressive style she had displayed in the first set, breaking Mladenovic to love. With both settling for more comfortable serves, Mladenovic was under real pressure with Siegemund lifting her level for one last push. With the crowd spurring her on, Siegemund just could not take advantage of two break points,
There was more drama to come – a second time violation warning for Siegemund earned her a point penalty to help Mladenovic on her way towards a break to level once more at 5-5. With the crowd making their displeasure very much known, the Frenchwoman had another chance to try and set her mark on this decider. As we advanced towards a tie-break – it looked as through the momentum had swung towards Mladenovic, as she swiftly built up a 4-1 lead.
Siegemund is nothing if not tenacious reeling off six of the next seven points – and with a slight delay for the final point to be checked, she was crowned the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix winner, 2017. It was the perfect finish for the tournament – a wildcard, who had been to the final before winning the title. It might not have been the wildcard everyone would have thought would take the wheel but a good win for the Germans left deflated after Angelique Kerber’s early exit.
In a match this close, it was agonising for Mladenovic to find out later that not only had there been just a couple of points in it, but she had won more total points than Siegemund.
She explained: “I know it’s kind of painful. Big final, three very long [sets- well what can I say. In the locker room, watching the statistics and you kind of lose a final in the tie-break of the third set, I think I won two points more than her in the match and you realise you lose that final – it’s painful right now.
“It could have gone both ways honestly, it’s a tiebreaker and pretty insane points at the end, especially the match point. You’ve got to be lucky sometimes, it’s part of the sport but gotta give her credit for playing really well this week. She didn’t beat only me, she beat really great players all the way.”
While Mladenovic acknowledged that the crowd towards the end had been hard to handle with the combination of time-violation and the climactic end with a tie-break, the Germans got their champion.
Siegemund said: “The spectators were amazing. They pushed me so much, it was unbelievable. There cannot be any better atmosphere than today and there was good tennis.. Just emotions on the court and in the air, and that’s what i play tennis for – this kind of match, this kind of audience and place.”
Last year, it propelled her on to some success in Madrid again where the faster court suited her, before tailing off a little at the pointy end of the clay court season, but remember last time she had also had to go through qualifiers. This time around with less matches it will be interesting to see how both kick on towards the end of the clay court season.
Main Photo Credit: Jimmie 48 Tennis Photography
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