In the third quarterfinal of the day it was Roberta Vinci’s turn to try and derail the Laura Siegemund express — but as so many of the German’s previous opponents, the Italian found herself flummoxed by the 28 year old’s mix between aggression and craft, whereas Siegemund continued to ride on the crest of the wave. This is the third edition of Friday’s “Stuttgart Express” series.
In TTI’s words
It has been a fairytale surge for Laura Siegemund over the course of the past few months and now, returning to her hometown of Stuttgart, it’s culminated in her first ever WTA semifinal. Much like in her previous match against Simona Halep, the German was incredibly focused right out of the gates and took command of the match as she dragged Vinci all across the court.
With the crowd behind her, the 28-year-old broke Vinci to open the first set with a flurry of winner — a pristine drop shot and backhand return winner showing off what was to come — and from then on, she never surrendered the lead in the opener to run away with the first set. In the second set, Vinci was able to flip the script on the German — as she took more initiative and did not give Siegemund as much freedom and short balls to drive down the lines.
However, despite a 4-2 deficit, the qualifier managed to reel off four games in a row to book her place in semifinals — much to the joy of the Stuttgart crowd and her own team as she continued the best run of her career 10 minutes away from home.
In the players’ own words
On what made Siegemund’s game so difficult today:
Yes, it was the first time that I played against Laura. It was a tough match, a difficult match. I think she played a good game today, really good, impressive, so aggressive. I played so and so, not focused every single point, a little bit in confusion — but she played good. She deserves to win today.
On why the second set went away from her:
Yes, I was 4-2 up with a lot of chance to win more games but she played good. She played good, so aggressive, always strange; sometimes she goes to the net, sometimes a drop shot, and on this court it is difficult to move (laughs)…I had nothing to do. Probably I would have had to be more aggressive, especially with my forehand and sometimes I had to push more, try more to go to the net.
On how she’s able to enjoy today’s victory:
(laughs) It’s not business as usual. If it was I would be very happy. No, every day is little bit different for me. One day, I can enjoy it more, the other I more like stay in the zone. I mean it’s a tough level out there and it’s hard to play great tennis on one side and also enjoy on the other. It’s a fine line between losing the concentration and enjoying. So, yesterday I was really much in the zone and I couldn’t enjoy that much. I was already with my thoughts in today’s match a lot and all that, which is okay but today I can enjoy it much more — which is a nice feeling if you’re able to let go for a couple of hours and not think about the next. There is always a next and a next, especially if you’re coming out of the qualies. It’s an amazing result for me and I have to enjoy it.
On her reasons for playing so well this week:
I don’t know. I haven’t had it before — I try to ride on the wave and also I don’t care (laughs). I’m very happy with my game. The whole week I was focusing on my strategies and on my game and not so much on the surrounding and whatever it is, the people, the text messages. It’s great and the atmosphere — I love it, but I still try to stick with the simple things and realize and what is the next opponent like and what do I have to do. That’s what has been working really well.
On her “complete game” and late-career surge:
I’m having good results because I’m playing good tennis and not because I’m an underdog or something. I mean people know me, people see my videos as well and make analysis about me and I’m just playing good tennis at the moment. I have a good mixture between my variability which I always had, but I can put a lot of pressure on people and I’m more consistent now than I’ve ever been. I’m serving well. There are a lot of things that are working well this week. Maybe one week everything comes together better and another week something is missing. You always have to deal with things that are not so good in a tournament week and this week everything is kind of there. So, that’s why I’m having good results, not from out of nowhere. It’s just the things that I can play, I play them.
On her off-season preparation:
Yes, [I was focusing on] my bachelor thesis (laughs). Really, my preparation was not the best because I had two months, totally focusing on the thesis. So, I would have liked to practice more. No, other than that it was a normal off-season. I did it at home because I wanted to spend time at home. It probably would have been better to be in the sun and in the heat somewhere but I chose to be where I want to be and spend time with family and friends which is very important for my mental health. I learned that over the years. Nothing specific, we were working on my game as much as we could. Just the things that I think I need to work on is what I worked on.
Sometimes I learn that it is better to skip – I don’t want to say skip one hour of practice – but to know when it’s good for you to have another hit or another session and when it’s good for you to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to drink a coffee with my friends’ because the mentals [sic] are very crucial. If you don’t feel relaxed and if you’re going into the season and you feel like so much stress already, that’s not a good situation. So, I learned to pick when I have to work harder and when I have to let go and relax a little bit I think it’s a very important point in professional sports to know yourself.