STUTTGART, Germany - It was little over a year ago that Laura Siegemund first scaled the walls of the Porsche Arena to mount an all-out assault on her home tournament in Stuttgart.
Reaching the finals as a qualifier, Siegemund returned to the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and went one better, knocking out another trio of Top 10 opponents and ultimately outlast an on-fire Kristina Mladenovic to win her second and biggest career title.
"I was so much in the zone that when I finally won - and even to now - I still can’t believe it!" the German admitted to WTA Insider. "I really played great, but I don’t remember a lot of the last few points because I was so focused."
Returning to the Top 30, can the veteran continue to employ the aggressive game plan that helped her defeat the likes of Svetlana Kuznetsova, Karolina Pliskova, and Simona Halep in quick succession? Siegemund sat down with WTA Insider to discuss her ever-evolving offensive mindset and pricisely what it means for an opponent to be "under Siege:"
WTA Insider: I know it hasn’t been very long since you won, but what are some of the primary feelings right now, as you’re sitting here?
Siegemund: It’s really hard because I cannot believe it. It was a really hard match, and I think Kiki played very, very well. I was so much in the zone that when I finally won - and even to now - I still can’t believe it. I really played great, but I don’t remember a lot of the last few points because I was so focused. It’s unbelievable for me, and it can’t get much better than this, really. I’m just so proud, and so happy that I could give something back to the people. I have so many supporters here, and the atmosphere the fans create here is unbelievable. I’m just happy that I could give it back to them in this way.
— WTA (@WTA) April 30, 2017
WTA Insider: You were runner-up here last year, and I remember talking to you then, and how you’d spent a lot of time on the ITF Circuit. Now you’re out here with the crowd behind you on a big stage, taking advantage of the moment. How much did last year’s run help you this week, in terms of managing the tournament?
Siegemund: It’s hard and easy at the same time. If you played well the year before, so many people are asking you if you think you can repeat it. I just tried to keep it really low key because it’s such a tough draw here that you really have to get yourself together from the first point or else you’ll be out of the tournament sooner than you think. I kept really focused because every match was so important and I really wanted to great. But you work your way into the tournament, the fans are there, being so supportive, and you just feel better and better. Still, there’s a lot of pressure not to let them down, and so there’s a mixture of feelings.
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 30, 2017
WTA Insider: Speaking of tough draws, it’s hard to find someone who had a tougher draw than you did, going through Kuznetsova, Pliskova, Halep, and then Mladenovic, who has had a great season. Do any of those matches stand out to you in particular as being the one that gave you the confidence to help you win the title?
Siegemund: I think every match was very different, physically and mentally. I can’t really compare them. I tried to take each day as it came, and I think I did a good job of making the best out of every day this week. That added up to winning the whole thing.
WTA Insider: Is there a win that, not that it surprised you, but one that you’re particularly proud of?
Siegemund: I think the match against Pliskova really showed me that I can play very aggressive tennis. It’s a nice add-on, the dropshots, and people love to see them. But I’m actually just a very aggressive player, and I have to remember the way I played against her. That can be a big step up in my game plan.
WTA Insider: Definitely, the way you were able to take it to one of the most aggressive players in the game, it seemed to be a showcase of your gamestyle, which is a different kind of aggression. People think of speed or power, but how do you continue committing to that? As fast as you are, maybe it’s easy to fall into being defensive or counterpunching.
Siegemund: Something I felt today was, yeah, maybe I played aggressive yesterday or against Pliskova, it’s like you have to keep proving it again and again. That’s how I felt today, like I had to go out of my way to find that aggressive gear. This will probably continue to be the case through the next few tournaments, and it’s kind of an ongoing process, changing your strategy to be really aggressive. This is something I’ve worked on for a long time; I see that it can work well, even against top players, but still, it’s something I have to practice and prove to myself in matches.
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 30, 2017
WTA Insider: Do you think this is something you can translate onto the other clay courts, the altitude of Madrid, or in Rome or Paris? The speed is maybe a bit quicker here in Stuttgart.
Siegemund: I’m really good at adjusting to different conditions, be it the opponent, surface, or weather. This really offensive gear, I want to keep working into my game more and more, and I hope to have more good results with it.
WTA Insider: I have to tell you that I’ve been using a nickname for you on Twitter; have you seen it?
Siegemund: Yes, I’ve seen it: “The Siege.” What does this mean?
WTA Insider: It’s a military term, where, if a city is under siege, there’s a constant barrage, and it is my opinion that when you are playing well, that’s what it feels like for the opponent. It’s just a barrage of dropshots, power, angles. I wanted to bring it up because if you don’t like it, I won’t use it anymore.
Siegemund: Now that I understand it, I think it’s actually pretty cool. I’ve never really had a nickname before, and people have tried to do funny things with my name, but they never worked. I’m good with that; I can’t say if that’s how my opponents feel, but maybe you know because you’re interviewing them. It’s certainly what I’m trying to do.
WTA Insider: It’s like a disrupter; tactically, you can see what is bothering an opponent, and that can drive them a little nuts.
Siegemund: I try to find their weak spots and dig in there when I find them. So it’s true, in a way.