August 30, 2015

Rafael Nadal Wins Grass-Court Edition of Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart

(June 14, 2015) Rafael Nadal captured his first title on grass since 2010 Wimbledon on Sunday when defeated Viktor Troicki 7-6 (3), 6-3 to win the Mercedes Cup for the third time in an hour and 27 minutes. Nadal claimed the title in Stuttgart in 2005 and 2007 when it was played on a clay court.

“I’m really, really happy. It’s my second win this year and it gives me a lot of confidence,” said Nadal of his 66th career tournament title.

“It was a great week for me,” he said.

“It’s a very special title,” said Nadal. “Since 2011 I didn’t play a final on grass, so win a title here is very good news for my game and for my mentality too. Congrats to Viktor for a great tournament. He’s playing great and will have some positives for the week.

“At this point of the season, every victory is important and every title means a lot to me. I’m happy for that.”

“In important moments my focus was not 100 per cent,” said Troicki. “He served very well the whole match. Even though it was a great week in reaching the final, I’m disappointed to lose this match. I had my chances and didn’t use them. I lost to a great champion. He served better and congrats to him.

“It’s a good result. I’m now going to London and we’ll see. I have high expectations for the grass season and this gives me a lot of confidence.”

“In important moments my focus was not 100 per cent,” said the 28th-ranked Troicki. “He served very well the whole match. Even though it was a great week in reaching the final, I’m disappointed to lose this match. I had my chances and didn’t use them. I lost to a great champion. He served better and congrats to him.

“It’s a good result. I’m now going to London and we’ll see. I have high expectations for the grass season and this gives me a lot of confidence.”

This was Nadal’s second tournament title this year, he also won in Buenos Aires.


Angelique Kerber Stops Caroline Wozniacki for Stuttgart Title

Angelique Kerber

German Angelique Kerber rallied in the third set to upset Dane Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 in the final of Stuttgart for her second straight title, lifting her win streak to 11 straight.

“It was small things today that made the difference,” Wozniacki said of the 2-hour and four minute match. “I had 5-3 in the third set and 30-all, and it could have gone both ways, but she took her chances and it went her way. We’re great friends, we hang out a lot and practice a lot together, and it’s always nice to play a friend in a final. You obviously want to win, but if you don’t win, it’s still nice that your friend does.”

“A few days ago I said clay is actually not my favorite surface, but right now I think I will change my mind,” said Kerber. “I’ve played very well on clay the last few days and weeks. I feel good that I have had so many matches on clay, and now I’m looking forward to the next tournaments before Paris. Of course I’m a little bit tired – I’ve had a lot of matches the last few weeks, and also a lot of travel. So that’s why I’m for sure taking the next few days off, just relaxing a little bit before I go to Madrid.”

On the way to the final, Kerber defeated three-time defending champion Maria Sharapova in the second round and also took out second seed Simona Halep in the semifinals.

For Kerber she won her the fifth WTA title of her career and second of 2015. She also won Charleston earlier in the month.


Bautista-Agut Wins Stuttgart Title


By Florian Heer

(July 13, 2014) STUTTGART – Roberto Bautista-Agut and Lukas Rosol went head-to-head in Sunday’s final at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart.

Right from the beginning the 26-year-old Spaniard was in control of the match. Rosol struggled with his service, having only a 31 first serve-percentage in the opening set, as well as facing problems with his return game, which led to a couple of free points for Bautista. The Czech was only efficient on his first break point of the match in the tenth game of the second set, which also meant winning the second set. Nonetheless, the world No. 23 from Castellón, who will break into the top-20 on Monday, was more consistent and eventually served the match out winning 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 after one hour and 42 minutes.

After his victory in s’Hertogenbosch, it was Bautista’s second title of the season as well as of his career. The Spaniard, who is taking away prize money of € 77.315 and a brand new Mercedes GLA 45 AMG, will also remain Stuttgart’s last champion on clay before the tournament will switch to grass courts in 2015.

“Lukas was taking a lot of risk in every shot today. I just tried to make him move and this was the key to victory. I’m also happy about winning the car and I’ll change my old one,” Bautista analysed with a smile.

“Since the beginning of the season I believe a lot in my strengths. I have been playing really well and won a lot of matches this year,” the 26-year-old explained.

“It is really difficult to win a tournament on grass and then after Wimbledon with only a few practices on the dirt and a couple of days off later on clay. This is really amazing. I work a lot and I did everything right this week to take the title,” the Spaniard was satisfied.

Rosol on the other side had to suffer another defeat in a final this season after losing to Grigor Dimitrov in Bucharest. “From my side, the match was not so good. I was looking for myself and couldn’t really find my rhythm. The serve was not working at all and I tried to take risks from the return but this wasn’t working either. Today my level wasn’t that good as in the previous round and it’s a pity because I really played well this week. Nonetheless, it’s an experience for me and I hope I can achieve a better result here next year,” Rosol was understandably disappointed afterwards.


Mateusz Kowalczyk and Artem Sitak took their maiden title on the ATP World Tour winning the doubles final 2-6, 6-1, 10-7 against Guillermo Garcia-López and Philipp Oswald after 60 minutes. “We love this tournament here. Everything is great,” the Pole, who also reached the final in Stuttgart last year, was overwhelmed afterwards.

Earlier the day, tournament director Edwin Weindorfer spoke to the media and said that he was satisfied with the quality of the matches throughout the week. “Although there was no German player making it into the tournament’s last stage, with Lukas and Roberto, we have two great players in the last clay court final in Stuttgart. Unfortunately we had some bad luck with the weather this week. After a good start on Monday with 2.000 spectators attending the show match between John McEnroe and Michael Stich, it was not possible to play on the entire Tuesday due to rain. Consequently, we will not reach the mark of 40,000 spectators this year,” the Austrian said.

“We received a great feedback form the players for everything concerning our “Road to Wimbledon-project” and in the next ten days we will start with the work for turning the surfaces of the Centre Court and the EnBW-Court into grass. Feliciano López, who participated in the most grass court matches this year and also took the title in Eastbourne, already told us that he will be here again for sure the next year. The 2015 edition of the Mercedes Cup is taking place the week beginning on June the 8th and we will also increase the prize money to the total amount of € 600.000,-. The partnership and contract with the title sponsor Mercedes will last until 2019 and of course we are hoping to present at least one top-player next year,” Weindorfer explained.

“Although the great times of US-tennis seems to be over – at least for the moment – we are looking forward to presenting players from the States. A youngster like Jack Sock is interesting and a big server like John Isner can be regarded as a certain candidate for the player’s field in 2015 on grass,” he added. “There is also Tommy Haas, who will start his rehab next week in Florida, to give his comeback on court in Stuttgart next year,” the German’s personal manager said about the condition of the former world No. 2.


Bautista Agut to face Rosol in Stuttgart Final

Roberto Bautista Agut-001

By Florian Heer

(July 12, 2014) STUTTGART – The remaining four players battled it out on Saturday for a place in Sunday’s final at the Mercedes Cup. Leading the way was top seed and defending champion Fabio Fognini, who has reached his fourth semi-final of the season, without dropping a set. The world No. 15 went up against Roberto Bautista-Agut for the sixth time with the Italian leading 4-1 before Saturday’s encounter. The Spaniard’s only victory came on hard court at the Australian Open.


Both players also met last year at the same stage in Stuttgart and the world No. 23 seemed to be highly motivated right from the beginning of the match. In an entertaining clay court affair, Bautista-Agut was solid in his groundstrokes as he tried to use opportunities coming to the net. The 26-year-old Spaniard saved all five break points he faced and capitalized on both of his two having on his own. After 73 minutes Bautista-Agut served out winning 6-3, 6-4 and advanced into his second final of the season.


“Today I played much better than last year. I had to show my best tennis to beat Fabio in perfect conditions on clay. I hit the ball hard, served well and also made him run. That’s what I wanted and I also played better in the important moments, which is always the key to win a match,” Bautista-Agut analysed.

“I don’t think too much in terms of rankings. I remain focused on the daily business. Tomorrow I’ll play my first final on clay and I’ll try to play the same level as today to win the title,” the Spaniard, who will crack the top-20 on Monday, told the media.

I have much more confidence this year compared to 2013 and I’m healthy. These two things are important for the improvement I made throughout the year so far,” Bautista added.

For the tournament here in Stuttgart I wish all the best for next year. I also feel comfortable on grass and so, for sure, I’ll try to come back in 2014, although I haven’t tested the courts yet,” the Spaniard, who won his maiden title on the ATP World Tour in s’Hertogenbosch, said about the surface change.

Lukas Rosol-001

In the second match Lukas Rosol met Mikhail Youzhny for the first time. The second-seeded Russian seemed to find his form by reaching his first semi-final of the season through victories over two Argentines Leonardo Mayer and Federico Delbonis. Rosol had taken out two Germans, Alexander Zverev and Philipp Kohlschreiber, before beating Feliciano López on Friday and was also the dominant player. The 28-year-old Czech was impressive with a great return game, good serves and a couple of hard hitting baseline shots to seal victory in 88 minutes winning 7-6, 6-2.


“So far it has been the perfect tournament for me here. The great crowd in Stuttgart is helping me to play my best tennis here. Winning the tie-breaks is also important, which has worked out for me and I hope I can keep it up until tomorrow,” said Rosol, who is looking forward to his second final of the season after losing in Bucharest to Grigor Dimitrov.

“Roberto will be the favourite tomorrow. I need to play really good tennis to win a couple of games against him. If I’m able to continue my game, it will be an interesting match on Sunday. The most important thing will be to stay focused on the court. Sometimes you have a slow start and it is difficult to find your rhythm like today when I was 1-4 down in the opening set. Then you get it, you’re really in the match and you feel more comfortable on the court,” Rosol added and said that he is not thinking about winning the car yet. He simply wants to stay concentrated and hopes for another victory on clay after lifting the ATP Challenger trophy in Prague in June.


Sunday’s matches will take place without participation of a local player. In the doubles final Guillermo Garcia-López and Philipp Oswald will take on Mateusz Kowalczyk and Artem Sitak. The Austrian-Spanish-combination defeated Peter Gojowczyk and Dominik Meffert in the Champions tie-break, whereas the Polish-New Zealand tandem took out Michael Berrer and Alexander Zverev in straight sets.


Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.


Semis Set in Stuttgart for Mercedes Cup

Fabio Fognini

Fabio Fognini

By Florian Heer

(July 11, 2014) STUTTGART – Seven of the top eight seeds advanced to the quarterfinals of the Mercedes Cup, only the tournament’s number five and local hope Philipp Kohlschreiber lost to Lukas Rosol on Thursday in straight sets. The remaining favorites were all in action on Friday in Stuttgart.


One of the most improved players on the ATP World Tour, Roberto Bautista-Agut, who climbed from No. 59 at the end of 2013 to a career high No. 23 after winning his maiden title in s’Hertogenbosch in June, took on fellow countryman Guillermo Garcia-López for the first time in the opening match on Centre Court. The latter also represents one of five remaining players in Stuttgart, who have already won a title in 2014 by taking the trophy in Casablanca in April. Garcia-López also had the better start into today’s encounter with a solid baseline game taking the opening set in the ninth game. Yet, the longer the match lasted, the more solid became Bautista-Agut. The 26-year-old from Castellón broke serve in the ninth game of the second set and eventually took the tie-break in the final frame winning 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 after two hours and 38 minutes. The third-seeded Spaniard reached his second semi-final in Stuttgart after his debut here last year.

Fabio Fognini, another 2014 ATP World Tour tournament champion with a victory in Viňa del Mar, who opened his title defence in Stuttgart was through with a comfortable win over Andrej Golubev in straight sets on Thursday to face Santiago Giraldo in the quarterfinal. The 26-year-old Colombian, who has had his season highlighted by reaching the final in Barcelona, defeated with Mate Delic and Philipp Davydenko two qualifiers in the opening rounds before meeting the Italian. Fognini lost two out of the last three meetings with Giraldo but was the more efficient player today. The top-seed from San Remo emerged victorious against the Columbian, who was moaning a lot on Centre Court today, winning 6-4, 6-3 in eighty minutes.

“It was a very tough match, especially in the beginning and I’m happy to be in the semi-finals in Stuttgart for another time. The same constellation as last year and I also hope with the same result. Nonetheless, it will not be easy. Roberto improved his game a lot and won his first title on grass a few weeks ago,” the defending champion said afterwards. “When I was world No. 13 a few months ago, I had the target to break into the top-ten. Maybe I was thinking too much about this goal at that time and I was trying too hard. I think this was a mistake and at the moment I’m pretty calm. I know my tennis. I know my body better than anyone. I still have two or three years to improve my tennis as well as my ranking and we will see,” the current world number 15 told about his goals and also disclosed the secret what happened with the Mercedes he won last year. “I used it a few month and then my father sold it to a friend. It was too fast,” Fognini laughed.

Eastbourne champion Feliciano López, who overcame compatriot Daniel Gimeno-Traver in three sets the round before, faced Lukas Rosol for the first time. The 28-year-old Czech advanced to his third quarterfinal of the season, reached the final in Bucharest and took the ATP Challenger title of the Prague Open just before starting his grass court campaign. Here in Stuttgart, Rosol took out 17-year-old German talent Alexander Zverev in the opening round before he upset fifth-seed Philipp Kohlschreiber. It wasn’t a surprise that today’s match was dominated by the first services and one break on each side in every set took the encounter the distance. In the tie-break of the third set, the 32-year-old Spaniard gained an early 4-1 lead, smelling victory already but did not make any further point from then on. Some shaky serves, a double fault and two unforced errors later and it was Rosol sealing victory after one hour and 55 minutes winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-7.

In the final match of the day, current Sao Paulo champion Federico Delbonis played against second-seeded Mikhail Youzhny. The 32-year-old Russian was in control of the tie-break in the first set, dominated the entire second frame and eventually served out winning 7-6, 6-2 in one hour and 40 minutes.

Earlier in the day, Toni Nadal talked to the media. The Spanish star’s coach is also in Stuttgart for a second edition of “The making of a Wimbledon Champion”, a project for young talented German players giving them the opportunity to practice in a professional atmosphere and maybe eventually bring them closer to the top. In co-operation with the Mercedes Cup, Toni supports the project and the winner of a small tournament taking place during this week will receive a Wild Card for the ATP event as well as will have the chance to practice with Toni’s famous nephew in Mallorca. Last year’s champion Alexander Marterer will be the first youngster to receive a spot in Stuttgart’s main draw next year.

“I think this is a good chance for the tennis in Germany. It is difficult but not impossible to really create a possible future Wimbledon champion,” Nadal told the media. “The quality of the grass courts here is great. The surface is very similar to the courts in Wimbledon, which is an important thing for the players in terms of preparation to the All England Championships. The courts in Halle this year were too fast. I will Rafa tell about these very good conditions here in Stuttgart and maybe there is a chance that he will come next year,” Toni said about Stuttgart’s transition to grass in 2015.

“We will talk to Rafael and his manager Carlos Costa about a possible start in 2015. For the case he’ll win Roland Garros, he will have the chance to play only on Thursday here. Of course we need to generate additional money but we’ll try to and maybe there is a chance that Rafa can take his third title in Stuttgart,” tournament director Edwin Weindorfer added.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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Related Article:

McEnroe Stich

John McEnroe and Michael Stich Help to Usher in a Green Future for Stuttgart


John McEnroe and Michael Stich Help to Usher in a Green Future for Stuttgart

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By Florian Heer

(July 7, 2014) STUTTGART – 2014 is an historic year for the ATP 250 Tournament in Stuttgart. This week is the last in which the Mercedes Cup will take place on clay. Due to modifications on the ATP World Tour calendar in 2015 with three weeks between Roland Garros and Wimbledon, the event will change its surface to grass. In co-operation with the All England Lawn Tennis Club, transition began on 12th August 2013 and this July the first court at the venue of the TC Weissenhof has become ready for some tennis action played on the green.

No other than seven-time Grand Slam Champion John McEnroe and former Wimbledon winner Michael Stich were the first to step on the new grass in Stuttgart for a show match on Monday afternoon. Both also captured the doubles title together at Wimbledon in 1992 and talked to the media earlier the day.

“Since the seventies the players wanted an extra week between the French and Wimbledon because it was very difficult to make that transition so quickly, as the courts were a lot different that time,” McEnroe said. “I think it will be great for the players as well as for events like Stuttgart to have the opportunity coming before the big events than after the big events,” the former world No. 1 added about the importance of the Mercedes Cup being part of the new “ATP Road to Wimbledon” project. “Obviously I was doing a lot of commentating at Wimbledon but I did have the chance to play with some juniors, which was nice. I also played with my brother, so yes, I did have the chance for some practice but only for about four hours a day and the grass looks greener here than in Wimbledon,” McEnroe added with a smile about his preparation for the show match.

“This transition to grass is a big chance for Stuttgart. The tournament has a long tradition and it is also a nice fact that the venue will remain the same with only the date and the surface changing,” Michael Stich said. “It is also quite a courageous act from the organizers to implement the project. For Germany it is a great story and I’m pretty sure that the players will like and accept the new surface. Furthermore, I’ll properly remain the last German winning this tournament on clay,” the Mercedes Cup champion from 1991 laughed.

The “Rasen – Premiere” took place in front of 2,000 spectators on former court 18 surrounded by terraces built from natural stones and even grass in the stands, which creates a special atmosphere. John McEnroe, nine years older than his opponent, emerged victorious winning 6-4, 5-7, 10-8. The US-American, who was born in Wiesbaden in Germany, was pretty satisfied with the outcome of the match and the experience on the new surface as well of its quality. “The grass is really great. You have a lot of grip on the court. I really enjoyed playing here. The atmosphere was fantastic, which will be even better when matches will be also played on centre court next year,” McEnroe said afterwards.

The entire show, with a doubles exhibition between former Mercedes Cup winner Henri Leconte and Alexander Waske and the two Wimbledon Champions following the singles match, lasted about four hours. Eventually a very special, yet unique day at the TC Weissenhof came to an end at 7.30 p.m. and it seems that the green future for the Mercedes Cup will be a bright one.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit.  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.


Maria Sharapova Three-Peats in Stuttgart


(April 27, 2014) It was a three-peat for Maria Sharapova in Stuttgart on Sunday. Sharapova came back from 3-6, 1-3 down to stop Ana Ivanovic 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 to win her third straight Porsche Grand Prix crown. She is now on a 13-match winning streak at the event.

It’s the Russian’s 30th career WTA title, the first of 2014. She is now third in titles among active players behind Serena and Venus Williams. With her eighth WTA clay court title win, Sharapova now trails just Anabel Medina Garrigues (10), Serena Williams (10) and Venus Williams (9) for most WTA clay court titles among current players.

“For the first half of the match I thought it might not be my day today, but somehow I turned it around,” Sharapova said. I had quite a slow beginning to the year, but me and my team have been working hard to get in the position to win titles again, and I’m so happy to be able to do it in Stuttgart.”

“From the first moment it was always a close match. It was always a few close balls to decide each game, and it went on the whole match. In the second set she definitely went for those big shots, though, and she made some amazing point,” Ivanovic said. “She’s just a great player, and that’s what happens when you play against great players in big matches like this. You need to use your opportunities.”

Sharapova joined boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov in the winner’s circle on Sunday. Dimitrov won the title in Bucharest, his third career ATP title.


Fognini Wins First ATP Title with Stuttgart Victory


(July 14, 2013) Italy’s Fabio Fognini joined the ATP winner’s circle for the first time taking the clay court event in Stuttgart defeating German Philipp Kohlschreiber 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 for the title.

“Finally, after two finals, I have won,” Fognini said. “I played great, great tennis this week. I am really happy to have beaten Philipp in the final. I was focused on my game and I think I felt fresh physically. The tension increased at the end, but then I got some luck. I just thought about my serve and playing solid. This gives me a lot of confidence. I will never forget my first title. It would be great to play on hard courts like this.”

“It is always tough to lose in the final, especially in Germany, in front of a home crowd,” Kohlschreiber. Maybe it was not the best final ever, but intensity wise it was tricky. Fabio played a great tournament and I can also be happy. There was great support. I think I started badly in the second and third sets. After winning the first set, I should have relaxed more.”

Fognini became the sixth first-time ATP World Tour titlist of 2013. The Italian took home €74,000 and a Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG, ‘Edition 1’ car for his efforts.


Halep and Beck Move into Budapest Quarters


Budapest, Hungary
July 8-14, 2013
Red Clay/Outdoors

Results Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Singles – Second Round
(3) Simona Halep (ROU) d. (WC) Agnes Bukta (HUN) 61 61
(4) Annika Beck (GER) d. Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 63 63
Yvonne Meusburger (AUT) d. (5) Johanna Larsson (SWE) 36 64 64
Timea Babos (HUN) d. (7) María-Teresa Torró-Flor (ESP) 16 64 76(4)

Doubles – Quarterfinals
(1) Hlavackova/Hradecka (CZE/CZE) d. (WC) Barzo/Galfi (HUN/HUN) 63 61
Grandin/Martic (RSA/CRO) d. Olaru/Solovyeva (ROU/RUS) 64 62

Order Of Play – Thursday, July 11, 2013
Court Asboth Jozsef (from 11.00hrs)
1. Petra Martic vs. Chanelle Scheepers
2. Anna Tatishvili vs. Shahar Peer
3. Alexandra Cadantu vs. Andrea Hlavackova (NB 15.30hrs)
4. Klemenschits/Klepac vs. Babos/Rosolska
5. Bratchikova/Tatishvili vs. Bukta/Jani

Court 5 (from 13.00hrs)
1. Valeria Solovyeva vs. Danka Kovinic


Dimitrov Rallies to Stop Volandri


ATP World Tour 250
Båstad, Sweden  (+2 hours GMT)
8-14 July, 2013     Surface: Clay


Singles – Second Round
[3] J Monaco (ARG) d [Q] H Laaksonen (SUI) 64 62
A Ramos (ESP) d [4] T Robredo (ESP) 63 64
[5] G Dimitrov (BUL) d F Volandri (ITA) 26 61 64
C Berlocq (ARG) d B Kavcic (SLO) 75 63

Doubles – First Round
[1] R Lindstedt (SWE) / D Nestor (CAN) d S Stakhovsky (UKR) / V Troicki (SRB) 64 75
[2] D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) d G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) / H Zeballos (ARG) 76(4) 63
[4] J Brunstrom (SWE) / R Klaasen (RSA) d [WC] G Dimitrov (BUL) / M Tillstrom (SWE) 16 63 10-4
N Monroe (USA) / S Stadler (GER) d [Alt] T de Bakker (NED) / R Junaid (AUS) 62 62


CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[8] F Verdasco (ESP) vs J Struff (GER)
[1] T Berdych (CZE) vs M Alund (ARG)
G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) vs [2] N Almagro (ESP)
T de Bakker (NED) vs [6] V Troicki (SRB)

COURT 1 start 12:00 noon

[1] R Lindstedt (SWE) / D Nestor (CAN) vs N Monroe (USA) / S Stadler (GER)
J Hajek (CZE) / F Polasek (SVK) vs [4] J Brunstrom (SWE) / R Klaasen (RSA)
C Berlocq (ARG) / A Ramos (ESP) vs [2] D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP)
[PR] L Arnold Ker (ARG) / J Monaco (ARG) vs M Alund (ARG) / J Souza (BRA)