While Novak Djokovic just managed to stave off defeat in Belgrade, Angelique Kerber bowed out in Stuttgart in round one. Laura Siegemund did better.

Disillusioned and with moist eyes, Angelique Kerber did not immediately know the solution to her sporting low. Even in front of her home crowd and at one of her favourite tournaments in Stuttgart, the best German tennis player did not manage the hoped-for turnaround in a so far weak season. Kerber lost her opening match against world number six Anett Kontaveit from Estonia 6-3, 4-6, 4-6 on Wednesday evening. For the first time in her tenth main draw appearance at Germany’s most important women’s tournament, she is not in the second round.

After the next early defeat, the 34-year-old from Kiel was in a hurry. Only half an hour after losing the last point against Kontaveit, she faced the press. Her black tracksuit matched her mood. The next setback after a convincing first set and due to a too high error rate is something she has to deal with first. “Of course it’s sad that I can’t continue playing here now,” she said.

After the two three-set defeats in Kazakhstan, where she missed the final round of the Billie Jean King Cup with the German selection last weekend, Kerber had been looking forward to playing in Stuttgart. Kerber won the title here in 2015 and 2016. In familiar surroundings, the world number 17 now wanted to break free from her negative trend.

“In the end, you just have to win matches like this,” Kerber said. “I know how it is. I’ve had that feeling before, when you’re close and then it’s not enough. Then you need a match that gives me the turn-around feeling, the confidence. I will work towards getting that feeling.”

After her preparation was hampered by a Corona infection, the former world number one has yet to reach her top form this season. The 2018 Wimbledon champion lost her opening match at the Australian Open and two other tournaments. Her only two victories so far this season came in Indian Wells. Kontaveit was also an opponent who did not suit her in previous years: Kerber has won only one of her six matches.

Success for Siegemund

Things went better for Laura Siegemund. After her long injury break, she came back with a respectable win. After a successful performance, the Swabian won against Tamara Zidansek from Slovenia 6:3, 6:3 in the first round at her home tournament on Wednesday evening.

It was the first win in a WTA main draw since June last year for the 2017 Stuttgart winner. A few weeks later, the 34-year-old had knee surgery and was off for months. Due to the injury, the former top-30 player is no longer in the top 200 of the world rankings. She had still been waiting for a win in the singles after her comeback.

Korpatsch also still represented

In the round of 16 on Thursday, the player from Metzingen will meet the world number five Maria Sakkari from Greece. Tamara Korpatsch will also play the British US Open winner Emma Raducanu.

Siegemund and Korpatsch are the only two remaining German tennis players at the high-class clay court tournament in Stuttgart. Besides Kerber, 20-year-old Eva Lys also lost to world number one Iga Swiatek from Poland.

Djokovic keeps the upper hand after falling behind

Serbian tennis world number one Novak Djokovic just averted his next early defeat. At his home tournament in Belgrade on Wednesday, the 34-year-old Serb came back from a first-set deficit to beat compatriot Laslo Djere 2-6, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-4) in his opening match. Thanks to the narrow victory over the world number 50, Djokovic advanced to the quarter-finals of the clay court tournament. There, the top seed will meet Miomir Kecmanovic and thus once again a Serbian tennis colleague.

In Monte Carlo, the 20-time Grand Slam tournament winner had recently failed to make a comeback after weeks of inactivity due to a lack of vaccination against the corona virus and was eliminated in his opening match. Before that, Djokovic had surprisingly lost the quarter-finals in Dubai at the end of February.