"Everyone writes their own story," says Jule Niemeier. The 23-year-old has just moved into the third round of the US Open. This is the only German player who is still in the tournament. And she is the only German representative at all, because all Germans are out among the men too. No chance. Nevertheless, Niemeier is the great unknown, her popularity in her own country should be limited.
In the international tennis circus she is only a small number. Anyway, the US Open is all about saying goodbye to Serena Williams, the icon of women's tennis. Germany's only remaining tournament hope does not want to complain about that. "It's legitimate that she's getting more attention than everyone else at the moment. That's no shame," said Niemeier.
Nevertheless: Niemeier's story in New York is worth telling: The 23-year-old proves in an impressive way that her surprising entry into the quarter-finals in Wimbledon two months ago was no coincidence. That she may one day be able to follow in the footsteps of Angelique Kerber, who is currently missing because of her pregnancy and who has already won three Grand Slam tournaments. Since Alexander Zverev, the biggest German star, also did not compete due to injury, at least the Germans are looking to Niemeier.
"I'm not really thinking about a Grand Slam victory yet," said Niemeier, emphatically calm. She wanted to "enjoy every match, absorb everything and take it with her". Also in the third round duel against the 19-year-old Chinese Zheng Qinwen on Saturday. "She's a very good player, she has an extremely hard forehand and can play very quickly," said Dortmund, number 108 in the world, before the third duel between the two.
And Niemeier needs nerves of steel again. Against Putintseva, who wanted to provoke with some antics, the youngster remained surprisingly calm. "I knew that she could be very toxic on the pitch," said Niemeier: "She threw the bat two or three times, but that didn't really bother me." It's much easier for her to concentrate on the essentials in the game than in training - "I don't think that's so bad".
Christopher Kas is again responsible for the match plan. The trainer has been in charge of Niemeier for five months, before that he had led Sabine Lisicki and Mona Barthel to success. The former doubles specialist believes that Niemeier will only start "playing her best tennis" in a year and a half. Until then, she has to get a little fitter physically, said national coach Barbara Rittner: If she weighs two or three kilograms less, the dynamic right-hander would be "more agile and mobile".
Kas didn't just raise Niemeier to a new level in terms of tactics. The former professional is also good for her emotionally. "He's extremely positive, always in a good mood," said the athlete. Niemeier himself is more of an introvert. Loud, wild, restless - that's New York, especially the tennis courts in Flushing Meadows Park. But Jule Niemeier is not like that. That's why she stays away from all the hustle and bustle and tries to "get away from the facility as quickly as possible" and "to get some peace into everyday life".
Serena Williams is completely different. The 40-year-old, who was eliminated in doubles with her sister Venus on Friday night, enjoys a lot of attention at her farewell tournament. Niemeier begrudges the 23-time Grand Slam tournament winner, because: "That doesn't mean that the other players are worse or aren't valued as much as they are."