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Of Legends & Lucky Losers: On the Grounds in Stuttgart

While the top seeds still had an another to relax and practice, qualification concluded with two straight-forward wins and two topsy-turvy affairs – and by day’s end, seven more women had entered the main draw. Later Tuesday evening, Carina Witthöft and Mona Barthel took the stage for an all-German affair for the first main draw match. From the sidelines, one of their compatriots lamented having to withdraw from the tournament.

With the main draw players yet to be presented, Kateryna Bondarenko and Alexa Glatch kicked off proceedings on Court 1 to see who would advance to join them. From the start, the American was firing from all cylinders, serving her opponent a first set bagel and going up a break. During the middle of the second set, Glatch’s level began to dip, and the Ukrainian comeback kid was able to recover the deficit. With a backhand screamer down the line, Bondarenko set up match points and sealed her spot in the main draw.

In the meantime, Bethanie Mattek-Sands made it through the past three days without losing a set, dropping only three games to Italy’s Alberta Brianti to set up an intriguing encounter with Ekaterina Makarova on Tuesday. Buoyed by confidence and consistent play, the American could certainly play spoiler for the eighth-seeded Russian.

Court 1 next saw the most drama-filled match of the day, as Yuliya Beygelzimer twice failed to serve out her match in the second set — even holding a match point — before the Ukrainian ultimately went down to Petra Martic in three sets. The Croat continues to blow hot and cold, but toughed out the match 6-4 in the final set.

As the day continued, the Fed Cup weekend took its toll on the Stuttgart field, with Svetlana Kuznetsova and local favorite Andrea Petkovic both pulling out of the tournament. As a result, some of the qualifying encounters ended up being dead matches (bizarrely enough, the Martic-Beygelzimer roller coaster was one of them). The only one to miss out was Glatch, who became the unluckiest loser of the day.

By contrast, Marina Melnikova reached her first-ever WTA main draw at the age of 26.

A pair of familiar faces in Belinda Bencic and Simona Halep took to Centre Court as a wildcard doubles pairing. Recovering from a slow start, Bencic and Halep pushed Chan Chin-Wei and Liang Chen to a match tiebreak, but fell in front of a full house after being up 8-5.

After a ballet performance and a Berenberg Classics featuring Tomas Muster and André Agassi in front of a sold out Porsche Arena, the players were presented, a Monday night tradition in Stuttgart. Petkovic took the opportunity to address the crowd since after pulling out with the aforementioned thigh injury, and the German later chatted to the press about why she decided to withdraw.

“Yesterday in the second set of the doubles I pulled my left thigh/hamstring in the back,” the 27-year-old explained and admitted she played both matches in Sochi on painkillers.

“I have to watch it when I come to clay because I have had two surgeries on my knee. My right thigh is a little weaker than my left because I had all my surgeries on my right leg, and then my left leg tries to compensate a little bit. It tends to happen when I’m fatigued – so it was just, you know, a matter of a lot of things coming together that showed me that it was not a good thing to come here and try to play.”

The German will head to her hometown of Darmstadt tomorrow and will be resting for at least three days — or however long it takes for her to start moving again without feeling any issues with her hamstring.

“If I can recover as quick as possible I would like to have at least a little physical preparation to be in good physical shape for Madrid, Rome, Nürnberg and the French Open – obviously the French Open as the high point of my clay season. And I’m playing great tennis, I’m feeling great on court, I’m hitting the ball well [..] I just need to rest now and get my body back in shape.”

The German No. 1 opened up on the vexing relationship with the biggest women’s tournament in her home country but more on some of Petkovic’s Stuttgart highs and lows are left for another time.

Before the tournament’s even began, however, she’s already picked a winner for Stuttgart: compatriot Angelique Kerber.

“But I really don’t want to put pressure on her!”

Tomorrow will feature another exhibition match — this time between Sharapova and Agassi in front of the Porsche Museum — and three Top 10 players will be in action with Makarova, Carla Suarez Navarro, and Ana Ivanovic. The Serb in particular be looking to overcome her March nemesis Caroline Garcia, after falling to the Frenchwoman in both Monterrey and Indian Wells.

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About René Denfeld (202 Articles)
Weather is my business. Tennis is my playground. Born in the year of the Golden Slam. Just give me all the bacon and eggs you have.

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