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Monday, April 25, 2011

Julia Goerges: Germany's new promise on court

Germany’s Julia Goerges smiles after beating Caroline Wozniacki in Stuttgart.

Women's tennis in Germany has not been the same since Steffi Graf retired in 1999 with 24 grand slam titles on her CV. Replacing arguably the greatest champion in the history of the sport is no small feat.
Germany's women have, however, struggled for more than a decade simply to be relevant. Not since 1998 has a German finished the year ranked in the world top 10. Not since August 1999 has the country had two women ranked in the top 30. Until yesterday.
Julia Goerges defeated Caroline Wozniacki, the world No 1, 7-6, 6-3 to win the Stuttgart Open on Sunday and vault to 27th in the world, joining Andrea Petkovic (No 15) in the top 30.
Germany had more good news last week, on the women's side: they defeated the US 5-0 to join the eight-nation world group in the Federation Cup. Petkovic and Goerges each won two matches.
"I believe that Germany belongs to the top group," Petkovic said.
The victory by Goerges over Wozniacki on indoor clay, which the German said is her third-best surface, was the attention grabber.
Goerges, 22, would seem to have the game and athleticism to continue to climb in the rankings. She stands just under six feet and moves well. She has heavy ground strokes; her two-fisted backhand is particularly impressive.
Petkovic, a native of Bosnia, got her first burst of attention when she got to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in January, and she climbed into the top 20 last month when she knocked out Wozniacki and reached the semi-finals at Miami.
She, too, is a powerful player, and she hopes to further refine her game as she begins training this week with Heinz Guenthardt, the man who coached Graf for the final eight years of her career.
The golden age for German women's tennis spanned Graf's career, but she was not alone among elite players; Anke Huber finished 1996 ranked No 7 in the world.
Soon after, Graf, now 41, gave up the game, married Andre Agassi and gave birth to two children.
Germany fell off the tennis map for a decade.
Petkovic and Goerges are unlikely to win grand slams or climb into the top five but they have made German tennis interesting again.
Goerges's second career victory came in Germany with her father in the stands at the Porsche Arena. She won €72,600 (Dh389,000) as well as a 2012 Porsche Boxster.
"I walked past this car every day going to practice," she said. "I never imagined I would be driving it."

She earned it, however, with wins over Samantha Stosur in the semi-finals and Wozniacki in the final.
Men’s tour this week
Rafael Nadal rolled over Spanish compatriot Devid Ferrer 6-2, 6-4 to win the Barcelona Open for the sixth time. The tournament title was his 45th, and 31st on clay. Ivan Dodig of Croatia was a surprise semi-finalist, defeating Robin Soderling and Milos Raonic.
ATP rankings
Player Country Points
1. R Nadal ESP 12,870
2. N Djokovic SRB 9,640
3. R Federer SUI 8,550
4. A Murray GBR 5,905
5. R Soderling SWE 5,175
Women’s tour this week
Julia Goerges of Germany defeated Caroline Wozniacki, the Dane who is world No 1, 7-6, 6-3 to win the Stuttgart Open. Also, Alberta Brianti of Italy topped Simona Halep of Romania to win the Grand Prix de SAR in Fez, Morocco.
ATP rankings
Player Country Points
1. C Wozniacki DEN 9,970
2. K Clijsters BEL 8,115
3. V Zvonareva RUS 7,615
4. F Schiavone ITA 4,892
5. V Azarenka BLR 4,630
This week:
Estoril Open
Place: Estoril, Portugal
Duration: Until Sunday
Prize Money: $581,000 (men), $220,000 (women)
Surface: Clay
Defending champion: Albert Montanes (men), Anastasija Sevastova (women)
Serbia Open Financial Group Open
Place: Belgrade
Duration: Until Sunday
Prize Money: $545,000
Surface: Clay
Defending champion: Sam Querrey

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