Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Petko downs Wozniacki.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer got big cheers for their routine victories at the Sony Ericsson Open on Monday, and glamorous Maria Sharapova certainly deserves attention for knocking off No. 4 Samantha Stosur, but it was the colorful 23rd-ranked Petkovic who truly put her stamp on the day during and after her surprising fourth-round win over world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.
She befuddled Wozniacki 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 with her self-described “clever” play, delighted the Stadium Court crowd with her celebratory “Petko Dance,” and then enchanted the media with a witty, unusually thoughtful, frank interview in which she admits her outspoken personality “gets me often in trouble.”
The dance, she explained, began as a bet with her coach at the U.S. Open.
“I was playing really bad, and I got Nadia Petrova in the first round, obviously tough round for me first round U.S. Open, and my coach said, ‘If you win, you have to do something special,’ ’’ Petkovic said. “That was the first thing that came to my mind. Actually, I wanted to get rid of it after the U.S. Open, but the fans said, ‘Hey, we are just coming to see the dance,’ so I brought it back in. But this is definitely the last tournament where it’s going to happen and then I’m moving on to something else.’’
She then volunteered her e-mail address to the gathered reporters, in case anybody had ideas for what she can do to replace the dance. She certainly had reason to do her jig Monday. She explained her winning strategy against Wozniacki.
“Most of the players think they can overpower Caroline, but I think that’s the wrong approach because that’s where she’s most comfortable, when she can run and bring most balls back,” Petkovic said. “Once you lose your concentration, she goes for it. What I try to do is mix it up and make her play, and when I had the short ball, go for it. If you try to hit every single shot full power, full power, she just gets more comfortable, more comfortable, and eventually, you’re going to miss.’’
Wozniacki led 5-4 in the first set and squandered three set points. Visibly frustrated, she kicked the ball angrily.
“Nothing was going on with my forehand, nothing was going on with my backhand, I lost the match,’’ Wozniacki said. “I had so many chances in the first set. I had set points, and I didn’t take them. Then the energy level dropped a little bit. That’s what happens in sport.”
Petkovic has been getting more attention this season, since she reached the final at Brisbane, Australia, and at the Australian Open beat Sharapova to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
She has a loyal following on her video blog, “Petkorazzi.” Among the players who have appeared on the blog are Novak Djokovic and John Isner. In February, the WTA did a promotion in which it asked players to describe their perfect Valentine’s Day. Most of the players talked of chocolates and flowers. Not Petkovic
“I hate Valentine’s Day,” she said. “It’s too ‘pinky girlie’ for me. My perfect date would probably be to go to a concert, jump around a little bit and then go and have a beer.”
Petkovic was born to Serbian parents who fled to Germany during the Balkan Wars.
Her father was a professional tennis player, but didn’t get very far, and insisted Andrea focus on education. She completed 13 years of school and then decided to turn pro, against her father’s wishes.
“I had a big fight with my dad because he didn’t want me to be a professional tennis player at that time, when I was deciding to go to university [to] play tennis. My dad had experienced this before, and he didn’t want his little daughter to go through the same things. But I had the bigger head in this decision, and I’m quite happy it ended this way.’’
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