The story of Julia Goerges’ rise is one that is fascinating to follow. The German had forever been the player that had the game to really burst her way through draws, because of the explosive nature of her game, her serve and her trademark forehand weapon, but the German had to face considerable setbacks that really tested her hunger for the fight and her desire to succeed.
Goerges made her first appearance at a Major in the 2007 season, 11 years ago. In the duration between her first Grand Slam appearance and the 2018 Wimbledon tournament, Goerges had made five fourth rounds at the Major level, and it was started to look like things simply weren’t going to click together and that that would be her ceiling in terms of Grand Slam results.
The German recognised that she needed change. She needed to mix up things in order to become a better player and in order to reach her full potential. During the 2015 season, Goerges made the bold, risky–but right–move to part ways with long-time coach Sascha Nensel. It was a tough decision as she had spent seven successful years with him, but the key for Goerges was getting the best out of her tennis. She enjoyed being a Top-50 player and sporadically playing well at events, but she wanted more. She believed she could do more and she believed she was underachieving in her current place on tour. Change was required. Goerges really felt she needed a new voice and that time was running out for her to attain those high standards she sets for herself and bringing in Michael Geserer was pivotal in the upturn in results and in upturn in fortunes.
“I tried to make a good move there. I had to get the okay from the other side that they wanted to work with me and they wanted to believe me. I think it is a good thing that we all live in the same city now. For me, it was not a big deal to go to that city in particular, because I felt there like I felt as a kid when I was visiting. For me, all in one, it just made a very good package and to see all the hard working paying off with my guys, I think they are doing more than other coaches are doing. They are doing it with passion and love and I think if you do anything with passion and love you get more out of it.”
Goerges knew she had the game, but now it was about putting it into practice with a familiar face, but a new face in her team and to ultimately get the best out of her tennis. Goerges made the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland in her first event under the tutelage of her new coach Geserer and that confirmed to Goerges that she was on the right path and that the new voice was something she wanted to hear more of.
The 2017 season really was the beginning of a rapid rise to the higher echelons of the game for Goerges, who achieved 48 wins in that season alone, and marked the first time she’d got over 38 wins in a single season since all the way back in 2011. That was the standout year for the German, winning her biggest title in the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart that year, but the long wait for another huge title suggested that change was good and change was necessary. That run without a title came to an end in the Kremlin Cup in Moscow in 2017 where she won her second Premier title, and Goerges was truly finding the belief in her game and confirming that her game had the upside to cause real problems for any player on tour.
Goerges has since made the Top 10 in February of the 2018 season and the real indication of just how much she had improved really came at Wimbledon. It was a Major that had been a bit of a pain for the German in years gone by. Never really being able to play her best tennis at that event, but the improvement in her game management was clear for all to see as she went as far as the semi-final and broke that run of five consecutive losses in the fourth round of major. It was big for Goerges and it came in the most unlikely of places:
“It was very special because there was a long time where I’d reached I don’t know how many fourth rounds and never advanced to the quarters and then I went to the semis. Wimbledon is the most traditional tournament for us, and I think for Germany, especially with Angelique (Kerber) winning Wimbledon I think it was very special to be a part of. And to have the chance to make a German final I think that was very historical. It showed me again that I did the right step three years ago, where I took a completely new team and really wanted to prove myself that there is more inside of me, and also I’m capable of playing better tennis than I did before. There were a lot of things this year – not only Wimbledon – but winning Auckland, cracking the Top-10. There were a lot of things that will settle in at the end of the season. I think I can be very proud of what I’ve done this year.”
Now a Top 10 player and one of the players that everyone wants to beat on tour, Goerges is still adjusting to new life as one of the top players and dealing with what comes with being one of those players. Goerges opened up about the special dream of being in the Top 10 and the alterations she has had to make:
“Well, I think, first of all I’ve had a great season so far. It is not over yet. I still have three more events to come. I’m feeling well. I think I’ve proved myself a lot this year that I’m capable of very good things at Grand Slam, but also at the same time being very consistent throughout the year, which brings me into the Top-10 and that was one of my dreams to get to the Top-10 in my career, which I have achieved now, but obviously it goes on and you still need to work and keep improving. At that stage I tried to enjoy. This season has showed me a lot and I think it is more about enjoying what I’m doing, working hard and trying to put that into matches as well.
“I think it needs a bit of time to adjust and to realise that you actually belong there and that this is happening. When you perform good, when you perform consistent. It takes probably a few months to accept the position. It maybe belongs to you, because you’ve done well. Those are things that are happening and coming together, so it is definitely a new situation, or it was a new situation. Everything is different because people want more from you and you get more attention. You just need to find the right balance for it and that you still have the right energy to do your job properly. I think we all did it very well together.”
Goerges’ rise to the Top 10 has been one of the more compelling stories on tour. And it is a story that really emphasizes that sometimes when you make that gamble, you enforce that change, that good things really can come out of it.
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