Andrea Petkovic Dishes on Her Most Embarrassing Moment, Her Greatest Strength and Her “Other Big Love”
(June 12, 2013) Possessing one of the most charming and entertaining personalities in professional tennis, former world No. 9 Andrea Petkovic is back on her way up. [Wednesday gallery at bottom]
Riddled with injuries during her career, she admitted earlier this week that she briefly contemplated retirement after a tough loss during the French Open qualifying rounds. Her coach lovingly laughed it off, and the 25-year-old German followed up her heartbreak by winning the following tournament in Marseille, en route not dropping a set.
With a wild card entry into this week’s WTA event in Nurnberg, Petkovic took out countrywoman and long-time friend Julia Goerges on Wednesday, and will return to the top 100 for the first time since the fall of 2012. The last time previously that Petkovic was outside the top 100 was in June 2009, where a similar run in Marseille again launched her back into the top 100. It was also announced today that Petkovic has been granted a main draw wild card for this month’s Wimbledon Championships.
After her win over Goerges in Nurnberg, Petkovic sat down to dish on her funniest fan encounter, most embarrassing moment involving a certain tennis legend, and what she would be doing if she weren’t a tennis player. Learn more about the always smiling “Petko” below!
What is your most memorable tennis moment?
My most memorable tennis moment is probably the first time I played quarterfinals in a Grand Slam (at the 2011 Australian Open). I beat [Maria] Sharapova in the fourth round, and it was a really really good match of mine. She didn’t play her best definitely, but I played really well.
How did you first start playing tennis, or what is your earliest tennis memory?
My dad is a tennis coach, so he brought me to tennis. My earliest tennis memory is at the club where I played. There was also field hockey there and all the cool girls were playing hockey, and I was hitting balls against the wall with my tennis racket. (Laughs)
What is your greatest strength?
I think my greatest strength is also my greatest weakness, as it is often in life. Because I am very ambitious, people sometimes say I’m over ambitious. I’m never satisfied with the way I play, with the way I win matches. I always want more, which is really good for tennis. But sometimes it can also be very bad for my body, as everybody could see with my injuries. I think I learned from it, but I still try to keep this ambitious (attitude).
What is the strangest or funniest encounter you have had with a fan?
Oh, I just had a really nice encounter! There were actually three or four fans and they all dressed up as me. (Laughs) They had these wigs and it was now in Paris. They gave me a book where they had all the pictures they collected of me, I think, over the last three or four years. And they called themselves the “crazy-razzis” because I’m Petkorazzi. They were really nice girls.
What is your most embarrassing tennis moment?
There are so many! Well, I think the most embarrassing is definitely when I played against [Vera] Zvonareva (in the fourth round) at the 2010 US Open night session on Arthur Ashe stadium. And before my warm-up, John McEnroe came to me and he was like, “Good luck, Petko.” I was so nervous. He said to me, “I’m going to be commentating on your match.” I was so nervous that I lost 6-1, 6-2. I didn’t put in one ball! I was just thinking about John McEnroe during the entire time of the match!
If you were hosting a party, what three tennis players would you invite and why?
I would definitely invite Gael Monfils, Novak Djokovic because he’s really funny, and Ana Ivanovic for the beauty.
If you were not a pro tennis player, what would you be doing?
That’s a good question. Well, I studied literature and philosophy and also had some interest in journalism, so maybe I would have gone to journalism school. But there was a big chance I could have studied law as I was also very interested in law.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I would definitely learn to draw because I think I’m a big big fan of art and I always love to go to museums and galleries. I picture myself in a nice garden with the sun, doing expressionist art. But unfortunately, I cannot draw at all, so I would love to be able to draw.
What is the one thing that scares you?
After my injuries, I definitely have to say, more injuries because it was the toughest time in my life. I love tennis so much and it was just taken away from me. That was one of the most bitter memories in my life, so I’m definitely afraid of injuries.
What are two things you could not live without?
Definitely, definitely my family is one because I’m very close to my family, especially my sister. And on the other hand, I couldn’t live without books because they are my “other life” that I live. I really like to read and I always carry three or four books around with me. That’s my other big love.
What is the most extravagant thing you ever bought with your tournament prize money?
I’m not a big buyer of designer (things) but I really like the Helmut Lang jacket. And after I played the quarters at the US Open, I bought it, and it was quite expensive – I won’t tell the price! But I’m still happy with it, although I never wear it because I don’t it to be dirty! (Laughs)
What are your goals for the year in terms of progress or ranking?
After my injuries, I really don’t have any goals. I just take it day by day, and I’m so happy to be back on court and just be playing. I’m just trying to find my old strength again and feeling good on court, and that’s all!
Wednesday match play photos by Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm.
(June 10, 2013) After failing to qualify for this year’s French Open, former world No. 9 Andrea Petkovic admitted to briefly contemplating retirement after her loss in Paris.
“I sat on the bench next to my coach and said, ‘I quit,’” stated the 25-year-old in Nürnberg on Monday.
In the summer of 2011, Petkovic broke into the top 10 for the first time and her career finally seemed to be on track after injuries had plagued her earlier in her life. But unfortunately for the German, the success once again halted there.
Petkovic was forced to miss much of the first half of the 2012 season with a back injury, and then in just her second match back, she suffered a horrible ankle injury in Stuttgart in April. After three-and-a-half months of rehabilitation, Petkovic returned and played seven tournaments to end the season. Then at the Hopman Cup exhibition at the end of December, she suffered a meniscus tear in her right knee which kept her off the tour for another two months.
After scraping for points and wild cards since her ranking had taken a plunge, Petkovic’s optimistic attitude took her to the third round of both Miami and Charleston this year. But the progress ceased again as she withdrew from Charleston with a calf strain, admitting to “disappointment and anger” at the situation, and then lost in the first round of Stuttgart and the first round of qualifying in Madrid.
She then went on to lose in the second round of qualifying at the French Open to China’s Yi-Miao Zhou in three close sets, which caused her to briefly contemplate retirement.
Luckily for Petkovic, her long-time coach, Petar Popovic didn’t take her seriously.
“He just laughed and a few days later [I] picked up my racquet again,” commented the German.
On Sunday, Petkovic won the ITF tournament in Marseille without dropping a set against her higher-ranked opponents, even dishing out a double bagel to young Puerto Rican Monica Puig in the semifinals.
“I am very relieved that my body has been able to survive those five matches in a row,” said Petkovic of her results in Marseille. “Everything has held up, even the knee. I have refueled myself with a lot of confidence, especially in my body. I can say that I have overcome the fear of injuring myself again. The fact is that I feel that I am now moving again as in my best moments.”
Petkovic takes on Sofia Arvidsson in the first round of Nürnberg, and if she wins, will take on compatriot Julia Goerges in the next round.
The 24-year-old Goerges has overcome her own share of injuries, most recently the wrist problem that continued into her first round loss at the French Open. But there is good news on the horizon.
“The wrist is stable,” Goerges said before her first round match against Romanian Alexandra Cadantu. “I’m on a good path. It’s almost strange to be able to hit the ball normal again, without having any pain.”
Photos from Monday’s WTA Nürnberg joint pre-tournament press conference with Julia Goerges and Andrea Petkovic by Rick Gleijm for Tennis Grandstand. Stay tuned all week for daily player and match galleries.
By David Kane
No matter a tennis fan’s complicated allegiances, the vast majority can agree that nobody wants to see a player in pain. Moreover, nobody wants to see an injured player before a new season has truly begin. Sadly, that was exactly what we were forced to witness this week; a mere hours into the 2013 season, the plucky but hapless Andrea Petkovic ruptured the meniscus in her right knee.
At the Hopman Cup, an exhibition event in Perth, Australia, the part-time YouTube celebrity/full-time wit had barely finished the first set against up-and-coming Australian Ashleigh Barty when she had to retire in tears with what would be diagnosed as her third major injury in the space of a year. No stranger to the bench, Petkovic suffered a back injury that ended her Australian summer last January, and an ankle injury one tournament into her comeback that took her out of contention for another four months.
All of this from a player who once suffered an ACL injury in 2008 that nearly ended her career.
Dubbed “Petkorazzi” by her fans, the German is a polarizing character; her brash style and on-court dance moves endear many and alienate others. She spent most of the 2011 season dancing her way into the top 10, with quarterfinal finishes at three of the four Grand Slam tournaments, and a run to finals of the Premier Mandatory event in Beijing, where she fell to Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets.
Spending most of 2012 on the sidelines undid most of her progress and caused a tumble from the top 100, but a late season surge that saw her make semifinals in Luxembourg and a WTA 125 in Pune gave her “Petkorazzis” hope that 2013 would see the beleaguered German star return to her former place among the game’s elite.
This newest setback promises to further delay such a return, this time perhaps indefinitely.
Despite your opinion of her, you cannot deny her horrible luck. Through it all, the perennially injured Petkovic has done her best to maintain her trademark sense of humor in the face of a very unfunny 12 months:
When a player seems to be followed by the proverbial rain cloud as Petkovic has been, the outside observer cannot help but be reminded of another one of our sport’s tragic figures, Dinara Safina. The former No. 1 was once plagued by chronic criticism regarding her status as a “Slamless Number One” only to become plagued by a chronic back injury that seems to have permanently removed her from a game she ostensibly once dominated.
Both Petkovic and Safina can be characterized as players who have unconditional love and passion for a game that has given them such heartache. While lacking the natural talent and fluid shots of their peers, these two women found success largely thanks to burning desires to succeed and the willingness to put in the long hours required for that success.
It has been said that determination can make up for good genes, that prodigal talents cannot neither compare to nor reach the heights of their less natural, but more disciplined, peers. Petkovic’s compatriot Julia Goerges and Safina’s own brother Marat may be known for their innate athletic gifts, but a healthy Petkovic and a mobile Safina were able to outpace rivals and siblings alike in a game that rewarded consistency as much as flashes of brilliance.
Qualifiers like “healthy” and “mobile” are important in situations like these, for an injured Goerges or Safin, with their natural ability, cannot (or could not) be counted out like Petkovic and Safina can be (or will be). For our determined underdogs, those years of dedicated and disciplined training, however admirable, created robotic and inorganic strokes that look the opposite of effortless. These unique game styles require precise timing and unhindered execution; inject injury or lay-off rust into the equation and the results are calamitous. Women who work so hard deserve better luck.
But one must return to the initial, unspoken question of “Why?” Why do such good-natured women and such dedicated athletes like Petkovic and Safina suffer bad luck to this undeservedly absurd degree?
Perhaps there is a reason why effortless styles of play tend to correlate with longevity. Roger Federer and Steffi Graf’s abilities to combine athleticism with balleticism allowed them to dominate the sport for decades at a time. The idea of an extended injury lay-off was simply a foreign concept to these two legends, and each had the same hunger and motivation as their less elegant peers.
As disappointing as these injury setbacks have been, Petkovic will likely return, and if Safina were not already physically exhausted, I do not doubt that she would do the same. These players’ love for the game is inspiring and while purists may scoff at their aesthetically displeasing technique, fans will always admire their dedication in the face of constant adversity. But there comes a point when we must ask whether style is truly subjective, and if these players’ unwavering drive to succeed is the very thing causing their bodies to fail.