The first round is in the books at the 2019 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart with no major surprises so far. It’s been a slow start to the tournament after Fed Cup and there have been no stand-out matches yet. That will hopefully change on Thursday as a super schedule awaits… read on for the highlights from Wednesday’s action in Stuttgart.
Match reviews 🎾
Hsieh Su-Wei d. Wang Qiang, 4-6 6-3 6-4
Scoring a sixth top 20 win of 2019, Hsieh Su-Wei came from a set down to beat a poor-returning, Wang Qiang. Hsieh was more dangerous in the baseline rallies, managing to force Wang Qiang into the corners and then redirecting effortlessly back behind Wang Qiang, or into the open space. Wang Qiang missed a lot of returns in the decider and didn’t have much buzz about her groundstrokes.
Despite not reaching the lofty heights of her run at home in China, Wang Qiang has still enjoyed a pretty solid year up till now. Hsieh advances to a third meeting with Naomi Osaka this year. Certainly one to look forward to and a match-up that I enjoy watching for the clash in styles. A review of their most recent match in Miami is linked below.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova d. Julia Goerges, 4-6 6-2 4-0 ret.
Pavlyuchenkova advanced to a Stuttgart rematch with Anett Kontaveit after Goerges was forced to retire deep in the third set with a neck injury. Goerges expanded in press about feeling numbness in her fingers due to irritated vertebrae. That doesn’t sound so good which makes Goerges’s first set performance all the more impressive as she served her way to an early lead.
Pavlyuchenkova said in her post-match interview that she wasn’t feeling the ball at all in the first set. With an early break in the second set, Pavs rode the momentum and became increasingly aggressive, going to town on the Goerges second serve.
Petra Kvitova d. Greet Minnen, 6-1 6-4
In the first of the second rounders, Kvitova advanced to the quarter-finals in Stuttgart with a straight sets win over Minnen. The world number 192, who beat Dominika Cibulkova in the first round having come through qualifying, took some time to adjust to the depth and pace on Kvitova’s groundstrokes. Minnen made the second set very competitive and forced Kvitova to raise her level. The Czech player converted on her sixth break point at 4-4 in the second set before serving out to love.
There were a couple of flashy moments from Kvitova including the winner on break point at 4-4 (see below) and a gorgeously angled backhand from an uncomfortable position in the final game. I’ve been impressed with Kvitova’s consistency so far this year. Even in this match she was nowhere near her best but it always felt like she was in control of her game and she could go to another level if required. Of 8 tournaments played so far in 2019, Kvitova has fallen at the first hurdle just once.
LOL moment 🤣
Don’t leave me, Naomi!
Press highlights 📰
Props to Victoria Azarenka who made the long, longggg journey from Australia and won her first rounder in a blast-from-the-past match-up against Vera Zvonareva. Vika talked about her admiration for both Vera and Lucie Safarova (😍) and her plans to sleep before a second round meeting with Karolina Pliskova.
Tomorrow’s OOP ⭐
Thursday’s night session is a pretty dreamy affair with an all-German clash between Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic, followed by Karolina Pliskova vs. Victoria Azarenka, a match-up that has produced a few classics over the years. Naomi Osaka vs. Hsieh Su-Wei is the pick of the bunch from the day session. In truth, there’s not a bad match on the slate and i’d happily watch all of them – I look forward to catching up with the best of them tomorrow night. Lucie’s also in doubles on Court 1!
My winners for Thursday are Siegemund, Osaka, Bertens, Kerber, Pliskova, Vekic and Kontaveit. I went for Kvitova over Pliskova in my Draw Challenge final at the start of the week.