STUTTGART, April 28, 2018 (Press Release)
And then there were four – in the filled-to-capacity Porsche Arena, Coco Vandeweghe (USA), Caroline Garcia (France), Anett Kontaveit (Estonia) and Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) all booked places in the semifinals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. It was a long day at the 41st edition of the long-standing Stuttgart tournament as three of the four matches went to three sets. The big surprise was the exit of Simona Halep (Romania), the world number one and winner of the 2017 Porsche Race to Singapore.
The quarterfinals have whetted the appetite for more: in Friday’s first match Coco Vandeweghe secured a berth in the penultimate round in front of 4,500 spectators. Having already halted the defending champion and local hero Laura Siegemund in the race for the title and the Porsche 718 Boxster GTS, the American also ended Simona Halep’s title dreams. Against the Romanian, the world No. 16 played impressively from start to finish when winning in two straight sets, 6-4, 6-1. It’s always something special when you beat a world number 1, no matter what stage it is, what venue,” she said afterwards. “It’d be great if everything continues in the same vein. Clay is not exactly my favourite surface but let’s see if I can drive off with the fantastic car on Sunday.”
However, she first has to once again play above herself and beat Caroline Garcia in the opening singles on Saturday. The Frenchwoman’s meeting with Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) proved to be the tense affair everybody expected. Both produced top quality tennis over long periods before Caroline Garcia eventually wrapped up the three-set 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2 win after two hours and 16 minutes. The world No. 7 from Lyon profited from her powerful serve, so much so that she hit three aces alone in her first service game. Not only that, she also closed the match out with an unreturnable delivery. Loud cheers rained down from the stands both for her performance and for the victory dance she performed when celebrating her first win of the year against a Top 10 player.
“I stayed positive all the way through. Even if I made a mistake on a particular shot, I didn’t hold back on playing the same shot at the next opportunity. Everybody makes mistakes, nobody’s perfect. You’ll only be successful if you try something out and have no fear of making mistakes,” said the winner who has moved into the round of the last four for the first time this year. The foundation to her week’s work came with the first-round win against superstar Maria Sharapova: “They’re the moments for which you play tennis for. The win has given me lots of confidence.”
In the two hours and 55-minute duel between the outsiders, Anett Kontaveit progressed for the first time to the last four in Stuttgart with a 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-4 win against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova from Russia. She will now face Karolina Pliskova. The world No. 6 from the Czech Republic defeated the French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in a top class and enthralling three-set victory – 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 – that lasted beyond midnight.
“Every player has to give 100 per cent”
“The match was decided in the mind,” said Karolina Pliskova. “I’m so happy and relieved to have reached my first semifinal in Stuttgart. Now I want to go all the way to the final but it’s not going to be any easier.” Just how difficult it is to assert oneself against the tough opposition at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is something Caroline Garcia knows only too well. “The tournament is one in which every player has to give 100 per cent in every match if they want to win,” said Caroline Garcia when looking forward to Saturday’s clash with Coco Vandeweghe. The New Yorker, who was given a Top 20 wild card by the tournament organisers after her manager missed the deadline, acted the cool blonde when previewing the upcoming semifinal. “It’ll be a new match on a new day. We’ll see what happens.”
The only German in the penultimate round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is Anna-Lena Grönefeld. Paired with American Raquel Atawo, the Porsche Team Germany player will take on the top-seeded Andreja Klepac (Slovenia) and María José Martínez Sánchez (Spain).