German tennis player Sabine Lisicki's success in reaching the Wimbledon final has boosted interest in the sport, says former German professional Patrik Kühnen.
DW: You have been watching Sabine Lisicki play at Wimbledon this year. How do you explain her success?
Patrick Kühnen:In this tournament she has demonstrated a very strong belief in herself. She was down against Serena [Williams] and then against [Agnieszka] Radwanska, but managed to pull back, because she believes in herself and has this enormous willpower. She has a very strong serve, a very good forehand and she's shown a true fighting spirit and deserves to have reached the final.
She has a reputation of being popular with the crowd, what have you seen there in Wimbledon?
It's interesting to see how she builds a strong relationship with the crowd, which helps her in her game because it gets the crowd behind her. She lives her emotions on the court. Whenever she is down you can see and feel that, when she scores a point she smiles. She seems very much at ease on the court; the spectators see that and give something back to her, supporting her. That is fantastic.
And has the interest in her picked up as she has progressed through the tournament?
In the past couple of days things have picked up big time! The media attention in Sabine is very strong, because she is the first German woman to do so well at Wimbledon since Steffi Graf. This has increased the interest in German tennis.
Will her success give a boost to German tennis like the success of Steffi Graf or Boris Becker did twenty years ago?
You can see how the interest has risen with Sabine's success within just a matter of days. Tremendously so. The interest in tennis has been down for the last couple of years but you can see what Sabine's success can do. I expect a boost for the sport in Germany after Wimbledon.
Patrik Kühnen (fourth from the left) was part of the German Davis Cup team that won in 1989
How does tennis compare to some of the other sports in Germany?
Well, soccer is of course by far the number one. But the interest in tennis is there. It is among the three or four most popular sports here. In Germany there are so many people playing tennis. The Federation has over 1.5 million members and then there are another four or five million people who are interested in watching the game.
Do you see Sabine Lisicki going on to continue her success at other tournaments?
Well she is still young and she can still improve. But her potential is very high and she has a great future ahead of her. I see her firmly in the top ten.
Do you see any new stars on the rise in German tennis?
We have a couple of of young players who can follow the footsteps of Sabine Lisicki or Angelique Kerber. There is Annika Beck or Antonia Lottner, who are coming up. And Barbara Rittner, the Fed Cup captain is doing an excellent job. I'd say the future of women's tennis in Germany is looking pretty nice.
And what about the men?
German tennis has been at a certain level for several years now. We have had players in the top twenty for the last couple of years, what we did not achieve, unfortunately, is to win a Grand Slam tournament. Tommy Haas has had several comebacks, but a great success in men's tennis would be needed to really help the game.
Patrik Kühnen, born in 1966, is a former German tennis player. He played doubles with Boris Becker in the 1980s and reached the singles quarterfinal at Wimbledon in 1988. He was part of the German Davis Cup teams that won the competition in 1988 and 1993. Since the end of his career he has been a tennis coach and tennis commentator on TV.
DW's David Raish conducted the interview.
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