Get set for some more of the “Petko Dance” and more “Petkorazzi”; Germany’s Andrea Petkovic is back. After missing most of the year with back and ankle injuries, she returned in New Haven this week for just her fourth tournament of what’s been a difficult year, to say the least.
One of the most colourful players on Tour, her expectations for New York are bound to be low over the next fortnight and her ranking has fallen to No 43 in her absence from the Tour. But as a top-10 player and one who seemed to be really finding her game when the injuries came, it should not take too long for her to get back to her usual winning ways.
In her time on the Tour, it’s probably fair to say that Petkovic has created a buzz through her personality as much as through her tennis. Though she has made three grand slam quarter-finals, she has yet to enjoy that real breakthrough that will catapult her towards the very top of the game. Some feel that a lack of a dominant weapon may prevent her from winning one of the sport’s biggest prizes but her presence on the tour was certainly missed.
Before she really made it big, Petkovic was more renowned for her political aspirations, saying that she could see herself leading a political party one day, worried that the youth of Germany were being disenfranchised by the ageing society in Germany. But as well as pushing her music to the back burner, she put those aspirations aside to make tennis her real priority and it has worked wonders.
But it is her Petko dance – think the Peter Crouch robot dance, but with some rhythm – her tongue-in-cheek videos and the Petkorazzi, her legion of fans, that really single her out as someone different, someone interesting and someone who has more to offer than just forehands and backhands.
That’s not to say that many players are not interesting but Petkovic’s intelligence is striking and having her around the Tour again should feel like a breath of fresh air. She’ll need time to get back to her best, of course, but there’s no reason why she won’t get back in the top 10, given a clear run of health.
As she said in New Haven: “My strokes and movement are just fine, but you can never simulate a match in practice, so when the stress of a match comes I feel like it’s a totally new situation. And I’ve basically been out for eight months, so really the inconsistency in rallies and matches is the price I’m paying. I just have to stay positive. It’s going to take time to get back to my best.”