Will the Real Andrea Petkovic Please Step Forward?

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Updated: October 22, 2010

Andrea PetkovicShe 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…”

Drew Lilley
Follow Drew throughout the season on twitter.com/DrewLillley

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2 Legacy Comments

  1. Maz

    October 24, 2010 at 7:00 am

    Thanks for the article. As a Petko fan I’m well aware of her tendencies to ‘choke’ away matches but at least she has the c’est la vie personality to shake it off & move on and improve in her tennis career. She will always be entertaining for the rest of her years but her tennis life in comparison will have a best by date. But it’s early days in her career. She’s still finding her game and her footing. She’s unique because she has aspirations after tennis, she wants a career in politics. Her parents are regular folk not scary tennis parents! They told her to finish her education in order to have something to fall back on as they knew tennis can be a fickle sport. Sometimes having such non-tennis goals and having a proper environment to grow up in and socialise (she has a lot of friends in school who are not connected to tennis) can be a good thing after seeing so many players programmed from an early age to eat breathe and live tennis & not have a clue what to do when they are inevitably injured (yes Dinara) and are stuck on the sidelines itching to come back on court too quickly & jeopardise the career they love so much.

  2. the fan child

    October 25, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    A lot of my hope for Andrea as a threat to win titles and go deep in Slams was halted when I watched her 4th round match v. Vera at the U.S. Open. For someone who can be so free and easy, so light and unencumbered, she was remarkably tight, and wilted on the big stage from the moment the first ball was put in play.

    I was surprised to see her play such inhibited tennis, but the good news is, it may have been a learning experience for Petko.

    There are many of us who would love to see her challenge the top players regularly because she has such an alluring personality. But is she really dead set on destruction, or are popularity and hipness her main ambitions.

    Great read, and a great topic for debate. Thanks Drew.