14.08.2020 - Vienna, Austria
Hamburg is the place where German stars Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst last played together, during the 2017 World Tour Finals. The city was also their safety island between 2013 and that event, a period in which they won the Rio 2016 Olympics, the 2017 World Championships and nine international gold medals, including four at Beach Major Series events.
Destiny wanted that just three days before the fourth anniversary of their Olympic title in Copacabana, the German stars got to meet again at the place they learned to call home, but this time with an important twist – they were opponents in the opening match of the third stop of the 2020 German Tour this Friday.
It was the first time the reigning Olympic champions played each other after their victory over Brazilians Agatha Bednarczuk and Duda Lisboa at the 2017 World Tour Finals and, despite a long absence from the sport over the last three years, it was Kira who came out on top as 18-year-old partner Anna-Lena Grüne and her defeated Laura and Maggie Kozuch 21-18, 21-23, 18-16.
“I’m very surprised,” Kira commented. “We went to the game with no expectations and we had only played together in the last tournament and we didn’t know we could serve as well as we did. It also helped that it wasn’t too hot when we played, especially it being a three-set match.”
Laura, who advanced to the Round of 16 with Kozuch following a forfeit victory over Melanie Gernert and Elena Kiesling in the second round, wasn’t as surprised with the outcome of the meeting with her longtime partner.
“I’m not surprised at all,” the defender reflected. “Kira is always Kira and she knows how to play this game.”
Both teams return to the court on Saturday for the Round of 16 with Kira and Grüne facing Polish Katarzyna Kociolek and Agata Ceynowa and Laura and Maggie playing against Lisa-Sophie Kotzan and Natascha Nyemczyk.
The Olympic champions can only meet again in the tournament in an eventual gold medal match – and that wouldn’t be a really bad idea, would it?