Petkovic: Dancing to a different beat
Originally published on: 08/09/11 13:07
Andrea Petkovic defeated Carla Suarez Navarro at this year’s US Open to set up her first quarter-final in New York and to the delight of fans, promptly produced her trademark Petko-dance at the place she had first unveiled it a year ago.
At the turn of the year the 24-year-old German, who was born in Bosnia to Serbian parents, was just as well known for her unique victory celebration as she was for her results or ranking. However, after a fantastic 2011 – where she has reached the quarter-finals at three of the Grand Slams – the world No.11 is now attracting as many admirers as her off-court activities.
The Petko Dance began as a bet with her coach Petar Popovic (who also works with Croatian ATP player Ivo Karlovic) in the lead-up to last year’s US Open. So erratic had her form been prior to Flushing Meadows that she promised Popovic she would do something special should she beat Russian Nadia Petrova in the first round. After scraping through a third-set tie-break, Petkovic spontaneously broke into her now-famous routine.
Tennis fans had been given a taste of the 5ft 11in German’s complex character and entertaining personality long before last August, however. Search ‘Petkorazzi’ online and you’ll be introduced to the player’s YouTube alter ego who features in a series of entertaining, tongue-in-cheek video blogs. Twitter and Facebook are another two websites she features on regularly.
She speaks four languages – Serbian, German, English and French, although “none of them properly” she insists – is studying political science while travelling the tour, writes regularly for the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, lists rock and punk as her favourite music (Bloc Party inparticular), plays the drums, eats McDonald’s and loves baseball. And then there’s her idols: German writer Goethe, Che Guevara and former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. She’s a sports star, but not as we know them.
But for all her success so far this year – she beat Maria Sharapova to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time in Melbourne, and followed it up with another quarter-final run at Roland Garros – we won’t see that unique side to her character or her special relationship with her fans disappear.
“For me [the videos] are a hobby – it’s a thing I use to get my mind off tennis,” she says. “I like doing it and as long as I like doing it, I think it’s fine. It’s just going to be a [question] of time. The more matches I win, the more time I spend in the tournament, the less time I have. But I also don’t want to play every week. I want to take care of my body so I’m going to have times when I can do my videos.
“I think it’s a part of every human being, giving back to society, and especially as tennis players. Sometimes tennis players forget how lucky we are. I’m happy I have a very good education from my parents. Each time I go in luxury hotels I think, ‘Wow, why do I deserve this?’ I’m very blessed and very lucky to be living this life. It doesn’t matter if I win or lose, so I just try to give back.”
To read more about how Petkovic’s refreshing approach has been shaped by two major events in her life, check out the May 2011 edition of tennishead magazine. Click here to get hold of your copy.