Stuttgart Presents New Challenges For Barty

Ashleigh Barty (photo: Porsche Tennis Grand Prix)

STUTTGART/WASHINGTON, April 21, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty will make her Stuttgart singles debut Wednesday evening as she takes the court in the second round of the WTA 500 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix facing unseeded Laura Siegemund of Germany.

The top-seeded Barty has played Siegemund once, a year ago on hard court in the first round at Doha, won by the Aussie, 6-3, 6-2. So, there’s not much of a history, per se. Barty will walk out on Porsche Arena’s center court having won nine of her last 10 clay-court matches going back to the start of the 2019 French Open, which she won for her only Grand Slam title. She’s 13-2 lifetime against Top 100 players (Siegemund is currently ranked No. 58).

“Oh yes, I think any time you get to play someone for the first time it’s a different experience, it’s new,” Barty expressed during her virtual media day interview on Monday morning prior to playing a first-round doubles match with Jennifer Brady, which the Aussie/American duo won to move into the quarterfinal round.

“There is always that part of it where you try to work out pieces of the puzzle and how you do it. I enjoy that tactical battle. I enjoy trying to, not tailor my game, but adapt it and bring the match back on my terms as often as possible. So, that’s always a challenge I enjoy,” Barty added.

Meanwhile, Siegemund improved to 8-7 on the season after defeating fellow German Mona Barthel from Bad Segeberg, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, Tuesday evening.

Tennis TourTalk asked Siegemund how she would prepare against the World No. 1 Barty. The Stuttgart resident said: “Not different than for any other match but, you know, maybe there is in that sense … Against Ashleigh that’s a different category and I think it will be a bit easier maybe finding the inner drive because it’s going to be a very hard match. It’s going to be very difficult for me to win and it would be a great win for me.

“So, one thing on the list that would be one of my biggest wins. So, that makes it easier to find that motivation and I have no pressure. It’s really my court (laughs). So, in a way, she’s coming to my court and I hope I can show her that also.”

Mertens leads five seeds into Istanbul second round

The TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championships Istanbul, a WTA 250-series red clay event taking place at TTF Istanbul Tennis Center, got underway in earnest Tuesday following a lengthy rain delay that washed out much of Monday’s schedule.

Among the seeded winners were: No. 1 Elise Mertens of Belgium, No. 3 Veronika Kudermetova of Russia, No. 4 Daria Kasatkina of Russia, No. 5 Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, and No. 8 Wang Qiang from China. Kudermetova, Krejcikova and Wang all needed three sets to advance.

However, there were two seeds that were casualties: No. 2 Petra Martic of Croatia was upset by France’s Fiona Ferro, 7-5, 6-2, and No. 6 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fell to Anastasia Potapova, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (8), 6-4, in an all-Russian match started Monday before the rain fell, then was suspended and completed Tuesday.

Defending champion Patricia Maria Tig of Romania did not return to defend her title. Last year’s event took place after the WTA tour’s summer restart. Eight of the WTA’s Top 50 began play in the 32-player main draw. The title match will take place Sunday afternoon with $29,200 going to the winner plus 280 WTA rankings points.

By the numbers

What they’re telling Tennis TourTalk

• After suffering her fourth straight loss Tuesday, against No. 7 seed Petra Kvitova, Jennifer Brady was asked if there was much keeping her from being able to turn some of these into wins: “Yeah, four losses, what to do, big deal but I’m not really thinking about that. You know, it’s the first match on clay. If I were to look back on my performance at Roland Garros and compare it to my match here, I feel like I have made drastic improvements in the game I play and I’m really looking forward to the next couple of tournaments I’m going to play.”

Laura Siegemund was asked to describe what it was like to play her first-round match Tuesday evening in Porsche Arena that was all decked out and without any fans: “It was very difficult. If you know what this tournament usually is happening and if you what kind of amazing atmosphere the fans are usually giving us players. I have to say … I mean I knew it’s going to be tough but this was almost more than I expected. It was very hard. 

At the beginning not so much. I tried to find my groove into the match. I was really kind of busy with the match. But then there was a time where it just really like got low energy. You know, part is maybe also the game that [Mona] plays. It’s not a lot of rallies, it’s just very quick points which is good to save energy, but it’s like,  you know, the game is maybe not as energetic as other games are and that made it tough. 

“I really had struggles to concentrate. You know, I tried to push myself. I tried to get my energy from deep inside and it’s almost awkward, like you push yourself and it’s like a scream into nowhere, you know. It was not easy.”

What they’re writing‘s Kamakshi Tandon has written a thoughtful article, “US Open Champion Thiem Wants To Change ‘Only Tennis’ Outlook On Life,” in which Thiem openly talks about needing to be physically – and mentally – fit to avoid a downward spiral during an interview with der Standard.