German tennis star Julia Goerges, the world number 18, will return to Auckland as one of the top seeds in the ASB Classic next month. The 24-year-old, just confirmed as one of the star attractions, built on her 2011 breakthrough year with another strong showing in 2012. She reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and played in two finals although without adding to her tally of two tournament victories. Goerges takes questions from the Herald.
This is your fourth consecutive visit to the ASB tournament - how do you rate your previous performances?
I love starting the year in Auckland, and the important thing is to get as many matches as possible under my belt. Unfortunately I got sick last time but still managed to win a tough first round match. Prior to that I've played good matches but unfortunately it was not possible last year.How do you spend the off-season?Because we travel so much during the season, I enjoy being at home with family and friends. I have just had laser eye surgery which went very well - I'm very happy about that because I had pretty bad eyes. I'm about to spend four days in a wellness hotel near the sea where I'll start running straight away.
How does the Auckland surface rate in terms of your preferences?
I like the hardcourts in New Zealand and Australia as it bounces and is not so fast. I like that a lot because I have a bit more time to create my game.
Your parents were in Auckland for the 2012 tournament - do they often travel to watch you and will they be here again?
They won't be in Auckland this time. They normally travel to watch me in the Grand Slams except for the Australian Open.
Do you set specific goals each season - if so, what might be your 2013 aims?
My coach and I haven't talked about those yet but I will know more by the time I get to Auckland.
What is the best match you have ever played?
I can't pick out one particular match - but I've had good ones against Sam Stosur and also Maria Sharapova one year in Melbourne. What is most important for me is that I am satisfied with myself and give it all on the court.
Your worst moment in tennis?
There are always ups and downs in a career. So far I have improved every year which is a great achievement for me because I feel I am getting closer to the top each time. But I have had some rough months every season and that is what I am working on fixing.
What is your favourite tournament and why?
I love Melbourne and the Australian Open, which is special for me. It is far away from home but it feels like home with so many great people there. Auckland is among the many tournaments where I feel well treated. The organisation in Auckland is amazing and it feels like a big family there. I also like the Stuttgart tournament, not just because I won it - it's just amazing, the food, the arena. It's also the only German tournament left.
Who was your childhood hero?
Martina Hingis - I loved the way she played.
You have played Serena Williams twice - what stands out about facing the tennis legend?She killed me once but I had some real chances on the other occasion. You always want to face the best players and compete against them but you don't want to forget that it is just another woman you are playing against. Sometimes you can think too much about their reputation and success. It is always an honour to play against those legends and you always take something out of the match ... and must always believe you can win.
Is there one thing you would like to change in tennis?
Sometimes it would be nice to reduce the amount of travel although that's not really possible and it is your job, and a great job. But travelling across time zones a lot and flying long distances then playing the next day - it can be very tough and destroys your body sometimes.
What is the best advice you have received?
Play to win. Nothing is impossible, and give it all you have.
If you weren't a tennis professional, what would you be?
I would probably work in an office, in a hotel maybe, as I like computers and doing tax stuff and writing bills and stuff like that.
Hanging out with friends and family and shopping. I like watching sport such as German soccer - I am a huge fan of Bayern Munich and love biathlons.