Will the Real Andrea Petkovic Please Step Forward?
She is the self-styled “first ever tennis-playing Rock ‘n’ Roller”. And no, I don’t know what that really means either, but it sounds fun.
She dances on court after she wins matches. She produces regular video blogs, where she either follows her fellow pros around at players’ parties or directs mockumentaries about herself (insisting that from now on, we always call her “Petkorazzi” in homage to pop culture). I could go on, and between time of writing and the actual publishing of this article, I’m sure there will be plenty of fresh Petkorazzi tidbits to have hit the social networking headlines.
What this is doing however is providing a smokescreen, unwitting or not, for the fact that Andrea Petkovic is actually a very good tennis player. I don’t think for a moment that she is so disingenuous as to have deliberately engineered these sidelines to take the pressure off her on-court performances – she’s simply someone in her early 20s who enjoys the fun side of life.
Her fledgling career has already had its ups and downs. A cruciate ligament injury kept her off court for eight months in 2008, so she used the time wisely to work towards a political studies degree, with a view to a career in politics once she hangs up her racquet. She only has one title to her name and that was in 2009 at Bad Gastein, but she has worked her way steadily up into the top 40 by winning enough matches in the early round of Slams and WTA Premiers, culminating with her run to the middle weekend of the 2010 US Open.
She would likely have been in the top 20 by now had she taken all the chances which came her way last season – a harsh critique admittedly, but this will ultimately decide if and when she moves up to the next level. She took a set off Serena in Rome before freezing in the decider and then lost 6-4 in the third set at Roland Garros, having repeatedly let an eminently beatable Svetlana Kuznetsova off the hook. That she defeated Nadia Petrova 7-6 then Bethanie Mattek-Sands 7-5 in consecutive deciders at Flushing Meadows bodes well however, and it is what she will need to do week in, week out in 2011.
Good players of her caliber are plentiful at the moment – she has a good service (which she hits at a quirky angle and which has room for further improvement), plays aggressive tennis and likes to keep the points short. If she is to rub shoulders with the best, then she needs to be able to move across the baseline better, wait rallies out and counter-punch or force the error.
What will also be interesting to see is whether the horseplay tails off as her ranking continues to improve. Like Ernests Gulbis on the ATP circuit, she can currently play the insouciance card since she is still under the radar to the majority of observers. Her burgeoning fan base will be hoping that Petkorazzi sticks around to carry on entertaining off-court while Ms. Petkovic puts on a show between the tramlines.
Are the two compatible? We all hope so, but it would be a crying shame if she is remembered only as Petkorazzi, and not as “Andrea Petkovic, winner of…”
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