With tears in her eyes, Andrea Petkovic waved to the audience and bowed briefly, “Petko, Petko!” rang out from the ranks. In the last Grand Slam game of her career, the German was denied a final coup, but she left the US Open with her head held high. In her last game on the big tennis stage in New York, the 34-year-old put up a tough fight with Olympic champion Belinda Bencic (Switzerland). But she lost 2:6, 6:4, 4:6.

She wanted to “get another one out,” Petkovic said after her resignation announcement (“The last dance”). But at her 48th and last Grand Slam start, the seven-time WTA tournament winner was too nervous at first. “When I see her like this: she has a lot of thoughts about this end of her career. I mean, she thought about it every second: Oh God, it could all be over in a moment,” said national coach Barbara Rittner after the first set at Eurosport. After that Petkovic found her rhythm and put the favorite in serious trouble.

Previously Laura Siegemund had played against Sorana Cirstea from Romania (4:6, 4:6), Peter Gojowczyk against Holger Rune from Denmark (2:6, 4:6, 6:7), qualifier Maximilian Marterer against Marin Cilic from Croatia ( 3:6, 2:6, 5:7) and Wimbledon semi-finalist Tatjana Maria, who had already suffered a three-set defeat against Maria Sakkari (Greece) on Monday, was eliminated in the first round.

Even before her first serve, Petkovic had announced her retirement. The US Open is generally her “last tournament”, but she might add another event in Europe. The Darmstadt resident justified this decision with the lack of game and training rhythm due to injuries.

The versatile Petkovic now wants to “take a break first”, “finish a book” by the end of the year and think about “what comes next in my life”. The former world number ninth admitted that it was “very difficult” for her to finally say goodbye.