Tatjana Maria wrote a few more autographs, waved briefly to the audience – and disappeared from the grandstand with her head bowed. Two months after her triumphant march to the Wimbledon semifinals, the mother of two ended up in the first round of the US Open. One day before Andrea Petkovic asked for the “last dance” of her eventful tennis career in New York, Maria missed another surprise as the first German starter.
The 35-year-old lost to Greek world number three Maria Sakkari on Monday after a good start 4: 6, 6: 3, 0: 6. “In the third set I played too passively at the beginning and put the game in her hands,” said Maria, who was still not dissatisfied: “I feel fit and good on the pitch, despite the defeat I will come out positive. “
In nine starts in New York so far, Maria has never made it past the second round. The world number 85 had against Sakkari. won in Wimbledon in the third round, at the Australian Open earlier this year the 27-year-old Greek had the upper hand at the start.
No easy points for Maria
Maria gave the favorite a good fight and got a dream start in each of the first two sets. But Sakkari adapted better and better to the unconventional slice game of the Germans, she became more patient and gave Maria hardly any easy points, especially in the third set.
Maria was the only German player on the opening day of the US Open. On Tuesday, seven German professionals will be involved – for Petkovic, the duel against Olympic champion Belinda Bencic from Switzerland will probably be his last appearance on the big tennis stage. “It’s an emotional challenge,” Petkovic said on Monday, “but it’s the right decision. I hope that I can knock one out again.” She had lost her rhythm this year due to injuries, so the resignation was “a necessity”. But: “It’s very difficult for me to let go.”
Cryptic end of career: #thelastdance
The seven-time WTA tournament winner had previously cryptically hinted at the end of her career on Instagram with the hashtag “#thelastdance” (the last dance). Immediately after her last Grand Slam tournament, she wanted to “take a break first” and “finish a book by the end of the year”. Then she wanted to think about “what comes in my life”. The Darmstadt resident had previously indicated in the ARD “Sportschau” that she might add one last smaller tournament in Europe.
For national coach Barbara Rittner, Petkovic’s withdrawal is a “great loss for German tennis”. The long-time Fed Cup player is a “role model for the younger generation” with her “special character” and “irresistible will”. Petkovic, who has also tried out as a sports presenter, author and columnist in recent years, curiously recognized through the many part-time jobs “that my greatest passion is tennis”.
Petkovic announced her resignation, Julia Görges said goodbye two years ago, Angelique Kerber’s return after her baby break is uncertain and Sabine Lisicki has also lost touch with the world’s best due to injury: A change is taking place in German women’s tennis. The successor generation to Steffi Graf is leaving, and new talents such as Wimbledon quarter-finalist Jule Niemeier now have to fill this gap. The 23-year-old meets American Sofia Kenin, 2020 Australian Open winner, in her first match at the US Open on Tuesday.