Holder Siegemund aims to be slow and steady in Stuttgart

Stuttgart (Germany) (AFP) –


After winning the Stuttgart Grand Prix title a year ago, and reaching the final in 2016, Germany's Laura Siegemund is vowing to take it slowly as she returns following a knee ligament injury.

The 30-year-old, ranked 100th in the world, was out from late May -- less than a month after lifting the Stuttgart title by beating Kristina Mladenovic in the final -- until her return last month in a low-key Italian event where she reached the quarter-finals.

A wild-card entry here, Siegemund told the WTA she is not prepared to push too hard on her knee and plans a step-by-step approach.

"I'm looking forward to the tournament a lot, I love the crowd and the place -- I just want to show some good tennis," said Siegemund, who will face a tough first-round test against Czech Barbora Strykova on Tuesday at the Porsche Arena.

"I have nothing to lose, I'm coming back after such a long time."

The native of nearby Filderstadt added: "I want to enjoy myself. I was not thinking about a particular tournament to return for, but of course I wanted to be ready for Stuttgart."

"There are a lot of great players here and I certainly don't like to think about winning a tournament before I've even started it. I go step by step.

"Stuttgart is a highlight for me, but my goal is to stay healthy and come back completely from the injury."

With Monday mainly devoted to finishing up qualifying rounds, only one main draw match was scheduled, with Russian Daria Kasatkina facing Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia.

Three-time champion Maria Sharapova, unseeded this time, begins in the first round on Tuesday against Caroline Garcia of France.