Niemeier Upsets Zidansek, Sets Petko Clash In Hamburg

Jule Niemeier (photo: Hamburg European Open/ Valeria Witters)

HAMBURG, July 9, 2021

Home favourites Jule Niemeier and Andrea Petkovic will go head-to-head in Saturday’s semi-final of the Hamburg European Open.

Niemeier has reached the stage of the last four at a WTA Tour event for the second time this season after Strasbourg in late May. The 21-year-old wild card entry upset No. 3 seed Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia 6-2, 6-4 on Friday. Under a closed roof and in front of 700 spectators on Centre Court, Niemeier impressed her home crowd with a relentless performance.

The World No. 167 was a set and a break up when the 2021 Roland-Garros semi-finalist broke Niemeier’s serve for the first time to level score in the sixth game. Yet, the Dortmund native kept a cool head, immediately gained another lead and managed to hold it together to prevail after one hour and 17 minutes – aided by a net chord on match point.

“The tournament in Strasbourg was very important for me. I beat three Top 100 players and showed my best match against Arantxa Rus. Back then, it was a perfect day,” Niemeier reflected on her performance in France. “Today I had some errors in my game, which is normal. I knew that the second set would become difficult, but I played well. Reaching the semis here in Germany is even more special.”

Petko in love with Hamburg

Later in the evening, Petkovic rolled back the years in Hamburg, where she celebrated her WTA Tour debut 19 years ago. The 33-year-old Darmstadt native capitalized on six of her eight break-point chances to outlast Ysaline Bonaventure from Belgium 6-2, 7-5 after one hour and 25 minutes.

“Ysaline played unbelievable, she has such a great hand with strong strokes. I am happy that I stayed solid,” Petkovic said in an on-court interview. She added:

“I love this city. I am happy that it rains sometimes, as otherwise it would be the most beautiful city in the world. I am having the best time of my life right now.”

Petkovic has returned to her first semi-final since Linz in 2019. “Sandra (Reichel) was also the tournament director there. Maybe she is lucky for me,” the World No. 130 said with a big smile on her face.

Niemeier won the only previous meeting with Petkovic in the final round of the qualifying in Strasbourg.

“We know each other pretty well,” said Niemeier on her upcoming rival. “We practiced together and of course it will be a big match for me. I beat her in Strasbourg, and I expect another good and intense match.”

Yastremska to meet Ruse

In the top half of the draw, No. 1 seed Dayana Yastremska defeated Italian veteran Sara Errani 7-6(4), 6-4. After a stuttering start, the 23-year-old from Ukraine found her rhythm and showed a lot of firepower to prevail after one hour and 51 minutes.

“I am happy to be back. It took me everything today. I needed to be patient. My game right now is a bit like up and down, but match by match I am getting better,” said Yastremska. Next, she will face qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse, who continued her impressive run of form this week in Hamburg.

In a match where it was difficult to differentiate 150 places that separated the two players, the World No. 198 from Romania edged out No. 4 seeded US-American Danielle Collins 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 to celebrate the biggest win of her career.

Ruse did it the hard way in the end. She missed five match points in the ninth game of the final set before converting the sixth with a forehand winner down the line after two hours and 31 minutes.

“I am pretty happy with my win today. I tried to keep focused and aggressive until the end, because Danielle is such a big player. If you do not put pressure on her, it is not easy for me because my defence is not the best. I like how she plays. She has a good backhand, a solid forehand and a big serve. So, I tried my best and I think I did the perfect match today,” said Ruse, who advanced to her first semi-final on the WTA Tour.

“I felt really good here right from the first day. The surface, the balls and the entire situation is great,” said the 23-year-old, who is enjoying her stay in Hamburg. Ruse added that she hasn’t experienced any problems by switching from grass to clay.

“I really like to do that. I like the challenges in my life. I did not play that match on grass unfortunately, as I lost in the first round of the qualifying at Wimbledon. So, I had a few days to prepare on clay.”