The European clay season kicks off in Stuttgart next week, as the Porsche Arena hosts what has become the WTA players’ most favorite tournament – the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. The event’s popularity among the players is easily visible by looking at the draw, since despite Stuttgart being “just” a regular Premier-level event, hardly any top players will give the German tournament a miss.
The 2015 draw is once again led by Maria Sharapova. The Porsche-endorsed Russian has made the Tennis Grand Prix sort of her home event by winning it three times in a row. And while Sharapova will be gunning for a fourth win next week and the rest of the WTA elite is hoping to end her impressive streak, 32 qualifiers kicked off their quest to make the event’s packed main draw on Saturday.
With most of the elite players still being away on Fed Cup duty across the world, all the attention was on the qualifiers and especially the many young German players in the draw. Unfortunately, the day proved to be rather disappointing for many of the local favorites.
While Annika Beck continued her stumble down the rankings with a rather disappointing 6-1 6-0 loss to Petra Martic, Katharina Gerlach was helpless against Kateryna Bondarenko. Both were joined by Antonia Lottner & Lena Rüffer, as all four players failed to win a single set.
Things went even worse for Dinah Pfizenmaier, who had to retire halfway through her match against Anna-Lena Friedsam due to a shoulder injury.
It wasn’t all bleak for the Germans though, as a young talent saved the day in a very impressive fashion. Katharina Hobgarski got past Patricia Mayr-Achleitner beating the Austrian 6-2 6-0. The impressive scoreline is even more remarkable considering that the 17-year-old is playing just her third WTA event, being ranked more than 600 spots below her Austrian opponent today.
Qualifying action will continue on Sunday and Maria Sharapova is expected to arrive in Stuttgart as well! Keep checking back, as Women’s Tennis Blog will cover the 2015 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix all week!