When Andrea Petkovic struggled desperately with her many emotions to say goodbye, Jule Niemeier also felt sympathy. "It took me a lot, I also had to shed a few tears," said Germany's last tennis hope at the US Open in New York about her mentor, "because we've known each other for a long time and I'm extremely sorry. "
Niemeier himself had prevented a complete first-round debacle from a German perspective with the convincing 7: 6 (7: 3), 6: 4 win against Sofia Kenin from the USA. All other seven German starters lost their opening match at the last Grand Slam tournament of the season, and for the first time in 38 years there is no German professional in the second round of the US Open.
Niemeier beautifies the German statistics
"It's no shame that everyone else lost," said Wimbledon quarter-finalist Niemeier, explaining this with the "extremely difficult draw". Oscar Otte, who clearly lacked the rhythm in the first game after his knee operation against Poland's number eight seed Hubert Hurkacz (4: 6, 2: 6, 4: 6), did not want to hang the negative statistics "too high". Without Olympic champion Alexander Zverev, who still has a training deficit after his serious injury, and the pregnant three-time Grand Slam tournament winner Angelique Kerber, it could "run stupid".
In the second round on Thursday, the dynamic Dortmund native will face Kazakh Julia Putinzewa, who defeated number 24 Amanda Anisimova from the USA. Niemeier stressed that it "is by no means a burden" to be the only remaining German participant: "I noticed in Wimbledon that I really enjoy playing on the big stage and against big names. That doesn't intimidate me - and that's extremely important."
Grand Slam farewell for Petkovic
Petkovic, who in her last Grand Slam match with Olympic champion Belinda Bencic from Switzerland after a very nervous start offered a tough fight and lost almost 2: 6, 6: 4, 4: 6, has a lot of confidence in the youngster. "I believed in Jule Niemeier before anyone had her on the screen," emphasized the 34-year-old. She attested to Niemeier's potential for an "absolute top 20 player".
"She used to help me a lot," Niemeier said of Petkovic: "She always encouraged me." She admires Petkovic's passion, "she always left everything on the pitch."
Petkovic resigns after 16 years on the professional tour and 48 Grand Slam tournaments, Niemeier moves even more into the limelight - the generation change in German women's tennis is also taking place at the US Open. Petkovic himself even wants to help. "I started training a lot with the girls last season," said the seven-time WTA tournament winner. Niemeier also wants to continue learning from her: "Of course I hope that she will stay in tennis and support us."