If you have ever watched Andrea Petkovic play tennis, you’ve probably been a fan ever since. If you’ve ever seen one of her interviews or, better yet, met her in person, you might just want to be her best friend.
The 29-year-old German has long been a fan favorite, thanks in part to her talent and athleticism, but she has always been an open book with the media as well – a rarity in professional sports. She can just as easily talk about Dostoyevsky as she can a drop shot. She has cried in the interview room after tough losses and laughed with journalists after big wins. She has become known for her post-match victory jig fans affectionately call the “Petko Dance.”
On Thursday, after she defeated Eugenie Bouchard to reach her first quarterfinal of 2017, she started her press conference by addressing the media: “I brushed my teeth for you guys!”
There was a period of time where very few of Petkovic’s press conferences began so cheerily. She had the best year of her career in 2011, when she reached two Grand Slam quarterfinals and broke into the top 10, but a string of injuries in 2012 sidelined her for nearly a year. She briefly reentered the top 10 in 2015, but has been unable to find a consistent rhythm since.
“I was struggling both mentally and emotionally a few years back and last year was the hangover,” she said. “But now I feel like I am on the other side, and I’m very blessed.”
Her hard work and humor have created loyal fans, even as her ranking dropped out of the top 100, but Petkovic isn’t in this to win a popularity contest. She’s more determined than ever to play her best tennis. In addition to employing a mental coach, she now has an agent handling her contracts and endorsements for the first time in her career.
“I feel as if the puzzle is falling into place this year, especially with my team,” she said. “I have a great team, a fitness coach, a trainer. It’s like the band who has an album that you don’t really get, but they need do it to get to the next step. That’s how this year feels to me.”
Petkovic, a 2013 finalist in Washington, D.C., will have an opportunity to move one step closer to a repeat performance on Friday when she faces 17-year-old Bianca Andreescu in the quarterfinals.