By Stephanie Neppl
(April 3, 2013) CHARLESTON, SC – A talented German contingency is in Charleston for the 2013 Family Circle Cup, but it has been a mixed week for its top stars.
A year ago, four Germans were in the top 20: Andrea Petkovic (11), Sabine Lisicki (13), Julia Goerges (15) and Angelique Kerber (16). Mona Barthel was also on the upswing and was ranked No. 36. Fast forward a year, and Petkovic is out of the top 100 due to injury, Goerges and Lisicki have seen their form and rankings dip, and Kerber found herself the highest ranked German and cracked the top 5 in 2012.
Rankings – April 2, 2012 Rankings – April 1, 2013
11 – Andrea Petkovic 6 – Angelique Kerber
13 – Sabine Lisicki 29 – Mona Barthel
15 – Julia Goerges 30 – Julia Goerges
16 – Angelique Kerber 41- Sabine Lisicki
36 – Mona Barthel 139 – Andrea Petkovic
All but Kerber played in Charleston this week, with mixed results thus far. Barthel and Lisicki were upset early, while Goerges and Petkovic have each survived two rounds. Here’s a look at how the German quartet are looking at the start of the clay season.
In August 2011, Petkovic become the sixth German to ever crack the WTA Top 10 but injury after injury came her way in 2012 and she dealt with a lower back injury and ankle injury last year. Petkovic returned to the tour again in late 2012 at the Hopman Cup and suffered another injury, this time a rupture of the medial meniscus. She started on the comeback trail again at Indian Wells this year, and her ranking has dipped to No. 137 due to her many absences.
She was handed a wildcard for the Family Circle Cup, and she’s put it to good use with two wins, first over fellow wildcard Taylor Townsend of the US, and another over American Vania King. She next faces 2011 Family Circle Cup champ Caroline Wozniacki. The pair have faced each other three times, with the Dane leading 2-1, including a win on their only match on the clay.
Wozniacki said Petkovic is a dangerous opponent. “Petkovic is a good player. She has been very unlucky with her injuries and she is obviously a player that does play on a very high level.” The two will kick off the day session at 11am Thursday.
Goerges’ two career titles are both on clay (Bad Gastein in 2010 and Stuttgart in 2011) but her 2012 season saw her go 5-5 on the dirt and she’ll be looking to improve that record. On Wednesday in Charleston, Goerges managed to come back after dropping a bagel set to Olga Govortsova to advance to the third round. She’ll next face Stephanie Voegele of Switzerland, who upset No. 7 seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain in the second round. Goerges said she was pleased to get the win despite not playing her best. “It’s good when you get tested right away on the clay,” she said. “It’s good to have those wins under your belt and when you’re not always playing your best and winning it’s a good feeling.” Goerges and Voegele are second on Althea Gibson Court on Thursday.
Sabine Lisicki has also had her share of injuries and illness, and her ranking has dropped from #13 a year ago to its current No. 41. Lisicki made the final in Memphis in February, but retired from the match with illness after dropping the first set to Marina Erakovic of New Zealand. Lisicki loves the green clay of Charleston and it’s where she captured her biggest title back in 2009. In her first match on Tuesday, Lisicki double bageled Anna Tatishvili in just 41 minutes. Today she was a heavy favorite to beat Mallory Burdette of the US, who is ranked #99 but the Georgian pulled out the upset 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 to advance to a contest against Serena Williams.
Barthel is actually the lone member of the group to have a title in 2013 and the win in Paris is the biggest of her career. Barthel also finished runner-up in Hobart and she has had wins over top 10 players Sara Errani, Angelique Kerber and Marion Bartoli. She’s now the second highest ranked German, with a current ranking of No. 29. She faced the US’ Jessica Pegula in the second round on Tuesday, but the 8th seed was upset 7-6 (4), 6-1.
Stephanie Neppl is in Charleston covering the Family Circle Cup for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. She has worked as Social Media Manager for Tennis Auckland’s ATP and WTA tournaments. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.