Indoor clay court tennis has been a permanent fixture in Germany on the WTA tour since 1978. Until 2006 the event was held in Filderstadt before moving a 20 minute drive down the road to Stuttgart.
During the first 27 years in Filderstadt the best in women’s tennis won there including: Tracy Austin, Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters, Martina Hingis and Martina Navratilova who won the tournament six times!
2020 was meant to celebrate 15 years of WTA Stuttgart which is one of the pinocals of the clay court season but what have been my memories over the years?
This was probably my earliest memory of WTA Stuttgart and when I think about Stuttgart I always think about Maria Sharapova.
In 2014 the Russian became just the third player to win the event on three consecutive occasions after Tracey Austin and Martina Navaratilova.
During her thirteen match wins over the three years in Stuttgart the Russian defeated:
I don’t know what it was about Maria in Stuttgart but I always felt like the Russian was at home and overwhelming favourite even outside of this three year period of domination in Germany.
(photo credit – AP)
One of the best stories from Stuttgart over the years, Laura Siegemund in 2016 won seven matches having come through qualifying to make the final on home soil.
The German was like a woman possessed on her way to the final which ran out of steam in as Angie Kerber won her second consecutive title but Laura breezed past Simona Halep, Roberta Vinci and Agnieszka Radwanska.
Laura had suffered with many injuries in her career and was just outside the cut off in 2017 so received a wildcard and once again went on an incredible run but this time took home the title.
To win the title Laura saw off Kristina Mladenovic who defeated Sharapova but once again the German beat the best to get to that stage including a tough battle against Pliskova and a straight sets win against Simona Halep who must have been sick of the sight of her!
Flying with Caro!
A wildcard was needed for Maria Sharapova to enter the 2018 edition of WTA Stuttgart, her opening round opponent was Caroline Garcia, having been beaten by Caro’s doubles partner in 2017 the Russian would want to avoid an early exit.
The three time champion raced to a 4-1 lead in around 20 minutes and sealed the set pretty business like in 34 minutes at 6-3.
Caroline continued to plug away and in the third game created some noise on the Russians serve as a warning but survived potentially being broken. Caroline did get that break but immediately gifted it back but went onto seal the set on her fourth set point in the tie-breaker.
Maria pulled away and was a couple of points from a 3-0 lead against Garcia but the Frenchwoman was not done just yet! She battled from a break down and at 4-4 broke to lead in the match for the first time and served out the opening round win against the three time champion!
Kerber’s incredible 2015 victory!
2015 was a fantastic year for Angie Kerber, the German won four WTA titles and turned up in Stuttgart on the back of a title in Charleston.
When I think about Angie Kerber I think the words tenacious and relentless and she showed this to pick up her first Stuttgart title.
Kerber was the player who ended the thirteen match winning streak of Maria Sharapova from a set down to upset the top seed and at the end of the week came from a set down to defeat Caroline Wozniacki.
This was a big week and year for Kerber, it kind of felt like her finding her feet season before she went onto win Grand Slam titles nine months later!
Vika’s 2019 comeback and mixed bag of results…
Following a run to the final of Monterrey before picking up an injury and retiring Vika arrived in Stuttgart after Fed Cup trip to Australia in 2019.
Having beaten former top 10 player Vera Zvonareva in round one 7-5 6-4 the Belarusian then had defending champion and fourth seed in her way Karolina Pliskova.
The first 45 minutes or so was all the Czech player who took the first set 6-4. Vika showed her major experience as she turned on the style to produce a magnificent comeback winning 4-6 6-3 6-4.
A place in the semi-finals was at stake when she played Anett Kontaveit but injury struck again for Vika.
Vika led 7-5 5-4 and was serving for the match when she was broken back and sadly for her injury meant she couldn’t continue down 0-3 in the third.