After Angelique Kerber‘s victory over Petra Kvitova, it was time Laura Siegemund‘s time to try and set up an all-German final on Sunday. In her way, however, stood no less than Agnieszka Radwanska, top seed of the tournament. But once again, the qualifier defied the odds against the Pole, continuing her fairytale run in her hometown. This is “Stuttgart Express” for the second semifinal at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
In TTI’s words
Agneiszka Radwanska looked relaxed and her reflexes were there when she was warming up ahead of her match with her coach Tomas Witkorowski but it couldn’t prepare for the German whirlwind that was going to sweep through the Porsche Arena.
Just like in her previous match, Laura Siegemund was ready to take on the challenge of facing another Top 10 player in the World No. 2, but this time it took her a little bit longer to shift the gears into the kind of level that saw her brush Simona Halep and Roberta Vinci aside in previous days.
The qualifier had chances to break her much more experienced opponent in the first game of the match, but Radwanska was able to hold on to her serve and then exploited a couple of slightly nervous minutes from the hometown favorite.
With the crowd firmly behind her, however, Siegemund began to find her grove and was able to turn Radwanska’s 3-1 lead on its head and win four games in succession, as she beat the crafty Pole at her own cat-and-mouse game more than just once.
After rushing ahead to a 5-3 lead, the 28-year-old German wasted no time in wrapping up the opening set 6-4, celebrated by both her as well as a frenetic crowd in Porsche Arena.
After loosening the handbrake during the first set, there was barely any holding back anymore for the underdog, who broke Radwanska in the opening game and continued to dropshot returns, pass the World No. 2 at the net and overpower the Pole at the baseline — when she wasn’t beating her at her own game.
Siegemund continued rolling, or “riding the wave” — as she’s called it so often this week — and even managed to bag a security break to lead Radwanska, *4-1. Afterwards, the World No. 71, who is projected to climb into the Top 50 after this week, had her only wobble and relinquished one of her breaks, but rebounded almost instantly to go up *5-2. In the next game, Siegemund sprinted out to a 40-0 lead, and closed out the match one point later with a forehand drive volley winner — receiving a well-deserved standing ovation from the Stuttgart crowd.
In the players’ own words
On having won seven matches on the trot:
“Well, I won a[n ITF] $25K in Darmstadt coming out of qualies once upon a time but basically I’m playing a Grand Slam in one week. That’s quite something.”
On beating Radwanska “at her own game:”
“I mean I also play a lot of different shots and maybe I’m a similar type like her to other players. I didn’t focus on beating her with her own weapon or anything like that. I was focussing on my game which has been working well the whole week and didn’t find the switch to play aggressive that well. I was playing a little bit short at the beginning which gave her a lot of options but managed to fix the problem and found my game, a little bit later than the other matches but I found it.”
On reaching her first WTA final at home:
“No, there isn’t [a better place to make your first WTA final]. The atmosphere today, I don’t believe anyone wasn’t moved by it. That was phenomenal. With every match, you always think it can’t get better than this but I’ve never experienced an atmosphere as amazing as this one and now I’m the one who’s on court — on top of all that. I really got goosebumps. It’s incredible how much people are giving and how invested they are and that’s so great. That’s women’s tennis and it’s amazing!”
On how she tried not to get overwhelmed by nerves considering her being the outsider:
“It’s difficult and everyone has to find their own way. There are strategies. Someone hums a song, someone else tries to think of something different. The third person says I’m trying to switch off. there are many strategies. You just have to be able to switch off or rely on intuition or entertain your brain in other way.
Yeah, sure, at some point in my advanced tennis life and due to maturing as a person I found strategies that work for me — after many many losses and difficult moments. But in my life, I’ve had many matches which saw me looking for strategies and it was in vain or I wasn’t able to apply them properly.”
On her approach vs. Kerber in the championship:
“I mean, I did a pretty good job this week focusing on my business and I think that was part of my success this week and I’m sure I can keep it up one more time. It’s a routine now, every day, every recovery session, every preparation. I’ve done it before and it’s not going to be easy to turn off my thoughts sometimes but I managed well and I take this confidence to the match tomorrow.”
On why things just didn’t click into place for her today:
“My tennis was not good enough, that’s for sure today. Well, I think with that kind of game she is playing, the first shot is very important — and she was playing pretty much all in and every time she got the ball, I think she had nothing to lose, so she just took the risk!”
On how this tournament sets her up for the rest of the clay season despite today’s loss:
“Well, sometimes it’s like that, especially on clay. It’s still okay. Of course, you’re disappointed after those kind of matches, but well I just hope I can come back stronger next year and better. The clay court season has just started, so I hope I can play the same tennis I was playing here.”
On how she is dealing with losses like today’s:
“Every loss is different. Sometimes it’s more painful, sometimes it’s not…sometimes, you tried your best and it just didn’t go your way. Sometimes when you lose after a couple of match points, then it’s a different story of course, then, like you said, the first option, the racket is going to be an option. So, yeah, it happens as well.”