By Florian Heer
(December 16, 2013) Biberach an der Riß , Germany -The National German Championships have a long tradition and have also been well established in the tennis calendar for several years. The first tournament took place in 1961 and the list of champions contains a lot of famous names like those of Steffi Graf, Michael Stich, Rainer Schüttler or Andrea Petkovic. For a fourth time in a row the event takes place in Biberach an der Riß, a small town with 30.000 inhabitants in Württemberg, in the southwest of Germany. “The biggest tennis federation in the world needs its National Championships,” said Ulrich Lange, president of the tennis federation in Württemberg and so a 42nd edition of the tournament was carried out this year with prize money of € 31.800.
On semi-finals Saturday the women’s matches were first up. In the opening encounter second-seeded Anna-Lena Friedsam defeated Anna Zeja in straight sets. The world number 122 has become the tournament’s favourite when actual top-seed Dinah Pfizenmaier was forced to retire on Thursday due to a shoulder injury. The 19-year-old Friedsam, who took four titles on the pro-tour in 2013, gained the win after 96 minutes 6-4, 7-5.
On Sunday’s final Friedsam’s opponent would be 18-year-old Carina Witthöft. In her match against even two years younger Tayisiya Morderger, the world number 216 won a very close encounter 1-6, 7-6, 7-6 after two hours and eight minutes. “It was a very tough match today. Tayisiya made it really difficult for me but I was able to find a solution today. In the decisive moments I could rely on my service,” Witthöft analyzed afterwards. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s final and I will try to enforce my own game,” the 18-year-old said.
The first semi-final of the men’s draw between Andreas Beck and Nils Langer went the distance. Both players had never met before on the international pro-circuit. Beck, who won the national championships in 2007, had the better start and capitalized on his first break point in the fourth game to eventually take the opening set in the ninth game. Langer, who made a lot of unforced errors with his backhand in the first frame, finally found his rhythm and took the second set in the tie-break. The second-seed, however, was the more consistent player, broke two times in the final set and served the match out in the eight game winning 6-2, 6-7, 6-2 after two hours and two minutes.
In the match of the day, top-seed Daniel Brands faced Michael Berrer. The latter won the last encounter between the two at the same stage here in Biberach last year in three sets. Today it should become easier for the world number 54. Brands simply was the better player in a very powerful match, dominated by big serves. The German Davis Cup-player took the match 6-2, 6-4 in only 52 minutes to reach the final. “Daniel was just too strong today,” Berrer had to admit afterwards. Brands, on the other hand was satisfied with his performance. “It was my best match of the week and I hope that I can repeat this level of play in tomorrow’s final,” the top-seed said. “It would be really nice to close the year with a title. That would be fantastic,“ Brands was looking forward to the final.
Yet on Sunday the ladies were first up again when in front of about 1.000 spectators Carina Witthöft faced Anna-Lena Friedsam for the title. Both players only met once before on the international circuit with the better ending for Witthöft winning in Hechingen in 2011 in three sets.
This time, it was the second seeded, who overpowered her opponent in the opening set to take the frame in the ninth game. In the second set, Witthöft got better into the longer rallies and gained the frame in the tenth game. The quality of the match improved and eventually it was the more experienced Friedsam, who was less nervous in the decider and took the title winning 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 in two hours and two minutes.
The men’s final between Daniel Brands and Andreas Beck would again become a match dominated by the service games. It was the top-seed, who capitalized on his first break point in the third game and later served the frame out in the tenth. Beck was without any chance at his return games and had to wait until the tenth game of the second set to gain his very first break point opportunity. Brands saved it and eventually took his first German National title in the tie-break winning 6-4, 7-6 in ninety minutes. “It was an even match today. It was also very close,” the new champion stated afterwards. “I am really happy to gain this title. It’s something special for me and I hope I will get the chance to defend it next year,” Brands said. “I will kick-off the new season in Doha and I will also play in Auckland before Melbourne. I want to get a bit of practice and I would like to play a couple of matches on the ATP Tour before the first Grand Slam of the year begins,” the world number 54 told us about his plans for 2014.
Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit! His special interest is in Spanish tennis and you can follow his twitter account @armadadetenis.