Seven of the WTA Tour’s top 10, led by defending Stuttgart champion Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska and Simona Halep, lead a packed field at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix from 18-24 April 2016.
Porsche Tennis Grand Prix tennis is live from Stuttgart from 18-24 April 2016. Watch and bet on tennis live from Stuttgart at 365
One of the most popular events on the WTA Tour and guaranteed to attract a very strong field, the 2016 edition of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is no exception as world no. 2 and defending champion Angelique Kerber leads a packed draw headed by seven of the world’s top 10. Agnieszka Radwanska, Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, Roberta Vinci and Belinda Bencic are joined by former French Open champions or runners-up Svetlana Kuznetsova, Lucie Safarova, Ana Ivanovic and Sara Errani when the 2016 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix begins on Monday 18 April 2016.
Simona Halep (Thomas Kienzle/AFP/Getty Images)
The oldest women’s indoor tennis event in the world, the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix has a rich history stretching back to 1978 with Martina Navratilova winning six singles and eight doubles titles between 1982 and 1992. Navratilova remains the all-time record holder in Stuttgart, but other luminaries including Gabriela Sabatini, Mary Pierce, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova joined her on the tournament’s roll of honour in the event’s first lifetime as an autumn hard-court event.
It was in 2009, however, that the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix transformed itself into its current form, becoming a spring event played on indoor clay. The calendar and surface change revitalized the event, and the decision to use French clay with an 0.1mm grain size – the same used at Roland Garros – proved to be a shrewd one. Stuttgart now offers an unparalleled opportunity for players to warm up for the French Open on a similar surface, and its calendar position in early April – ahead of the major Premier events in Madrid and Rome – means that the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix now marks the beginning of the WTA Tour’s European clay-court season.
Now the first landmark in the run-up to Roland Garros, WTA Stuttgart has attracted star-studded fields since its transformation to a clay event in 2009 and features one of the most packed draws you will see throughout the WTA Tour calendar, with top-10 and top-20 players often colliding in the first round. Justine Henin was the first to win Stuttgart as a clay event in 2010 and Julia Goerges thrilled the home crowds with her run to the title in 2011, but in recent years the tournament has become the exclusive property of one Maria Sharapova.
The two-time French Open champion has played her best tennis of the past few seasons on clay and it has showed in Stuttgart, where she owns an unbeaten 13-0 record and has collected a trio of titles, beating Victoria Azarenka (2012), Li Na (2013) and Ana Ivanovic (2014) in the finals. Sharapova’s 2014 title was particularly memorable as she was on the verge of dropping out of the top 10 and Lucie Safarova served for the match against her in the first round; after capturing the Stuttgart title, she went on to win the Mutua Madrid Open and her second French Open title at Roland Garros.
Ana Ivanovic (Thomas Kienzle/AFP/Getty Images)
The 2015 edition of WTA Stuttgart saw Sharapova’s reign ended in the second round by Angelique Kerber, who defeated the defending champion 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 and went on to beat Ekaterina Makarova, Madison Brengle and Caroline Wozniacki in a gripping final. Triumphing 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 over Wozniacki to thrill the home crowds by capturing the trophy – already the second Premier-level title she had won in 2015 – Kerber went on to win in Birmingham and Stanford and ended the season back inside the top 10.
The left-hander returns in 2016 as the defending WTA Stuttgart champion as well as a Grand Slam champion, having claimed her maiden title at the Australian Open when she defeated Serena Williams in the final. Also a semifinalist in Miami and Charleston in 2016, Kerber will be guaranteed a rapturous welcome by the home crowds alongside compatriots Andrea Petkovic and Sabine Lisicki.
It won’t be easy for Kerber to defend her title, however, as she is joined by six other top-10 players led by Agnieszka Radwanska, with whom she is currently locked in battle for the world no. 2 ranking after Radwanska’s sparkling start to the season. World no. 6 Simona Halep is one of five women in the Stuttgart draw who have either won or finished runner-up at the French Open, alongside Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ana Ivanovic, Lucie Safarova and Sara Errani, while fellow Grand Slam champions/runners-up Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova and Roberta Vinci will all be eager to start their clay-court seasons with a strong result in Stuttgart.
The battles are going to be fierce as the 2016 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is played 18-24 April – don’t miss out on what is sure to be a week of unparalleled WTA Tour action.